How Can I Live and Repay My Student Loan Debt? – Ben

“Dear Steve,

I’ve been reading through your blog articles for a few nights now. Yet, I find myself falling outside the range of your advice so far. If you have to time, I would love to pick your brain about my debt situation.

CreditKarma notes I have $123,000 in student loan debt, with a credit score of 590. I have been using an Amazon credit card as a revolving-door account to increase my credit score, but the process is slow. I make roughly $37,000 a year after tax withholdings.

The loan payments that are due currently eat up more than 35% of my income, and this is expected to increase shortly. It’s enough that I’ve determined there is no way I could afford anything other that what I already do in my fairly meager lifestyle, such as federally required health care.

I seriously believe these debts I owe are indeed owed. I shy away from the loan forgiveness, bankruptcy, and dismissal suggestions in your articles. I knew what I was getting into when I absolutely had to choose between 13% interest rates, or forfeiting the completion of my education and dreams. I don’t think I could pursue those options in good conscience.

It seems that consolidation would be a good option for me. But the crowdsourced loan consolidation sites mentioned in your articles have a maximum of $35,000 each, and I do not qualify for one of them due to my credit score. And even before reading your warnings about student loan repayment assistance programs, they have appeared too dubious for me to trust.

So aside from getting a second job and subletting my tiny apartment, I humbly ask what else I may do to increase my quality of living while still making a dent in my debts?

And thank you very much for your time.


Dear Ben,

Clearly you are conflicted between your interpretation of what your responsibilities should be and reality and math.

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You say, “I don’t think I could pursue those options in good conscience.” Okay, don’t then. You made your bed, now lie in it. But that argument is like saying you knew when you started school that your intention was to take on much more in student loan debt then your life could ever support. If that’s the case then you got what you set out to achieve.

I don’t know what you went to school for but hopefully it wasn’t business because you can layer on all the emotional guilt you want onto this but at the end of the day it is never going to work out on the current plan.

Getting out of debt requires increasing income, reducing expenses or a combination of the both. It’s just that simple.

So if you are racked with emotional guilt about repaying less, just make more money. But life is not that simple, is it?

As far as consolidating these loans, let’s be honest here, your credit score sucks, your income is low, and no legitimate for-profit lender is going to touch that.

CreditKarma is a great free service to check one of your credit score for free but it is not a comprehensive look at who you owe. I’m a bit concerned you are a bit loose on what the extent of your financial situation is so gather up your student loan statements and let’s figure out who you really owe and how much.

I don’t even know if these are private or federal loans. Do you? To find out check out the advice and links in The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Student Loans You Can’t Afford. And while you are there, if some of these loans are federal loans then carefully look at some of the affordable repayment options the government makes available to you.

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You have to deal with this emotional conflict and decide which is more important, life, or the servicing the loans as you are doing.

Dude, snap out if it.

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

Steve Rhode

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