Can’t Repay Your Student Loans? 5 Ways to Get Help

Apr 17


Jeff McTabor

Jeff McTabor

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Struggling to manage your student loan payments? This guide offers five practical strategies to alleviate the burden of student loans, especially during financial hardships. Learn how to navigate the complexities of repayment options and find relief.


Understanding the Challenge of Student Loan Repayment

For many college graduates,Can’t Repay Your Student Loans? 5 Ways to Get Help Articles the transition from education to the workforce can be daunting, particularly when student loans come due. According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. student loan debt reached a staggering $1.75 trillion in 2022. The grace period, typically six months post-graduation, offers temporary relief, but the real challenge begins once it ends. Graduates facing the highest unemployment rates in recent history may find themselves unprepared for their first loan payments.

Ignoring loan obligations is not a viable solution. Defaulting on federal student loans can lead to wage garnishment and seizure of tax refunds. Moreover, both federal and private student loans are notoriously difficult to discharge in bankruptcy. Consistently missing payments can severely damage your credit score, affecting your ability to secure future loans, rent apartments, or even gain employment, as more employers are now conducting credit checks.

Strategies to Manage Your Student Loan Debt

1. Communicate with Your Lenders

Immediate communication with your lenders can prevent many issues. For federal loans, the U.S. Department of Education offers deferment and forbearance options during financial hardships, which do not negatively impact your credit score. Private lenders might also offer temporary solutions like reduced payments or interest rate adjustments. It's crucial to contact them early to explore your options.

2. Extend Your Repayment Period

If you owe more than $30,000 in federal student loans, you might be eligible to extend your repayment term from 10 years to 25 years. This can significantly lower your monthly payments, although it will increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Private lenders may also offer extended repayment terms on a case-by-case basis.

3. Consider Loan Consolidation

Consolidating multiple student loans into a single loan can simplify your payments and potentially lower your monthly dues. Federal student loans can be consolidated through the U.S. Department of Education's Direct Loan Consolidation program. For private loans, search for lenders that offer private consolidation options.

4. Explore Income-Based Repayment Plans

Federal loans offer income-based repayment plans, which adjust your monthly payments according to your income. After 25 years on such a plan, any remaining debt may be forgiven. Private lenders generally do not offer income-based repayment, but they may be willing to negotiate payment terms.

5. Pursue Loan Forgiveness Programs

Certain professions, such as teaching, public safety, and healthcare, may qualify for federal student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after ten years of qualifying payments. This option is only available for federal loans.


Navigating student loan repayment can be overwhelming, but understanding your options can provide significant relief. By proactively managing your loans through communication with lenders, exploring repayment extensions, consolidation, income-based plans, and forgiveness programs, you can take control of your financial future and mitigate the impact of student debt.