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My Federal Student Loan Payments are Getting Tougher to Make

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

I have 11 federal student loans totaling just over $55k. (DI Special subcns, DI Special UnSubcns, Stafford subcns, and Stafford unsubcns loans) see attachment

These are loans for my undergraduate & graduate degree.

To date, I have not been delinquent in any fashion. Also, I have a good credit score rating, over 730. I have found it more and more difficult to make my student loan payments on time. I have qualified for and am currently par-taking in the Income-Driven Repayment Plan (2nd year). In addition, I have a mortgage and car payment. What is my best course of action to take if I can not continue to make my student loan payments?

Thank You!

Drowning In Student Loan Debt”

Dear Drowning,

Thank you for sending in the list of loans you have. I can see some are already consolidated but most are not.


There are two key areas I’d look into.

First, would it not make more sense to roll all of your loans, even the consolidated ones, into one Direct Loan? That way you could get the income based repayment (IBR) payment for all of your loans in one payment.

That IBR payment is going to be your best bet to lowering your payment without much hassle. the chart below shows figures which assume that income increases 5 percent per year and use the 2014 Poverty Guidelines (published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and Income Percentage Factors (from the U.S. Department of Education).

Income Based Repayment

Your maximum payment will be 15% of discretionary income. Discretionary income is the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence.

The second logical course of action would be for you to either increase income, reduce expenses, or a combination of the both in an effort to make the financial pinch, less restrictive.

While the government makes plans and allowances to help people make the payments more affordable, they also expect you to have mortgages and car payments that allow you to make the payment.

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.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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