I’m an Optometrist Trying to Eliminate My Student Loans. – Jennifer

“Dear Steve,

Optometrist graduated in 1996, consolidated student loan debt with Sallie Mae shortly there after, HEAL loan at 9% interest fixed, other loan 4% Stafford? Been paying over 17 years on debt and am current. Also have about $30,000 in credit card debt unable to bring down, husband has about $30,000 as well.

What can I do to consolidate credit card debt? How can I lower interest rate on HEAL loan, been paying on that a long time and the principal is essentially the same. HELP!


Dear Jennifer,

I feel compelled to ask if it’s better one, or two.

The interest rates on the student loans is not horrible. In fact it is better than it will be for current graduates as their loans become adjustable rate loans.

The real issue is the credit card debt. It sounds to me as if you’ve been carrying that debt for some time. If that’s the case then the debt would indicate you are or at one time were living beyond your means and financing that shortfall with borrowed money.

So to get you into a position where you have extra money each month to pay down the debt we need to look at increasing your income, reducing your expenses, or intervening in the debt.

The fastest way for most people to readjust debt obligations is with bankruptcy. It is also the least expensive way to do it. I would suggest before you make any decision about bankruptcy that you read, Everything You Always Wanted and Needed to Know About Bankruptcy.

But if you feel as if you can increase expenses to pay down the debt faster, a nice structured free way to get some guidance to do that is by using ReadyForZero.com.

The key here is we need to address the debt but do it in such a way you are paying off your debt but not sacrificing your continued ability to save and put money away for retirement.

See also  Alternative Repayment Plan - The Little Known Federal Student Loan Plan When All Else Fails

Finally, if you wanted to try and lower your loans and consolidate them then the Direct Loan program would be for you. You could consolidate both the HEAL and Stafford loan. You could then enroll them into the Pay-As-You-Earn program if you qualify for it. I would suggest you start with this online calculator to get a better idea of the benefit to you. Current interest rates can be found here.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.
Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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