I Went Back to Get My Nursing Degree But How Can I Lower My Payments? – Dawn


Dear Steve,

Hello, I am a 51 yr old RN, married with a joint tax return. My job mandated that i go back to school for my BSN, which cost me $21,000 in federal student loans in the state of Florida.

My son also was in college and I signed for a Parent Plus loan in the amount of $54,000. He took out a loan on his own as well, and is only able to afford to pay on that loan. Now both of my loans are ready for repayment and I find myself with a $800/month loan for 10 years.

Even if I extend it for 25 years, my payments are $600/month and I will be 76 years old when they’re paid off. I don’t qualify for any forgiveness programs. I make a good salary, but I am now not going to be able to pay for my retirement plan, have any savings, or build up an emergency fund.

My question is should I just not pay on my student loans and, at this stage of my life, focus on my retirement account? Or do I suffer for the next 10-25 years and pray I can work overtime to make these horrific payments?? Please give me some advice, as I can’t sleep from the stress of all this.



Dear Dawn,

Things might not be as bad as they appear.

You can consolidate the Parent PLUS loan into a new Direct Loan and then opt for an income drive repayment plan. You’ll have to pick the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR). See this for more information.

For your other federal student loan you can opt to consolidate that as well into a different Direct Consolidation Loan and opt for the Income Based Repayment (IBR) or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan. See this for more information. This will lower your payments as much as possible.

If you are going to work in nursing you might find yourself employed by a non-profit hospital or working in “Public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health care support occupations)”

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In that case, after making 120 on-time income based payments the remaining balance of your federal student loan could be eliminated.

This approach should do the trick to lower your payments and eliminate some of your loans.


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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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