How to Pay Off $300,000 in Student Loans

The average student loan debt for college students is $39,351. However, some students — such as those attending expensive law or medical programs — end up with $300,000 or more in education debt.

Paying off such a large balance can be difficult and time consuming. For example, if you had $300,000 in federal student loans and paid them off on the standard 10-year repayment plan with a 6.22% interest rate, you’d end up with a monthly payment of $3,364 and a total repayment cost of $403,663.

The good news is that there are several strategies that could help you pay off your student loans more easily.

Here’s how to pay off $300,000 in student loan debt:

Refinance your student loans
Consider using a cosigner when refinancing
Explore income-driven repayment plans
Pursue loan forgiveness for federal student loans
Adopt the debt avalanche or debt snowball method

1. Refinance your student loans

Student loan refinancing is the process of paying off your old student loans with a new loan. Depending on your credit, you might get a lower interest rate through refinancing — this could save you money on interest and potentially help you pay off your loan faster.

Or you could opt to extend your repayment term through refinancing to reduce your monthly payments and lessen the strain on your budget. Just keep in mind that choosing a longer term means you’ll pay more in interest over time.

Keep in mind: While you can refinance both federal and private loans, refinancing federal student loans will cost you access to federal benefits and protections — such as income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs.

If you decide to refinance your student loans, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible. This way, you can find the right loan for your situation.

Here are Credible’s partners that offer refinancing for student loan balances of $300,000:

LenderFixed rates from (APR)Variable rates from (APR)Loan terms (years)Loan amounts


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.44%+1


2.24%+1

5, 7, 10, 15, 20$10,000 to $500,000
(depending on degree and loan type)

Fixed APR:

2.44%+1

Variable APR:

2.24%+1

Min. credit score:
Does not disclose
Loan amount:
$10,000 to $750,000
Loan terms (years):
5, 7, 10, 15, 20
Repayment options:
Immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
Fees:
Late fee
Discounts:
Autopay, loyalty
Eligibility:
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
Customer service:
Email, phone, chat
Soft credit check:
Yes
Cosigner release:
After 24 to 36 months
Loan servicer:
Firstmark Services
Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance:
$100,000 to $149,000
Max. Graduate Loan Balance:
Less than $150,000
Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
Yes


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.99%+2


2.94%+2

5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20$5,000 to $300,000
(depending on degree type)

Fixed APR:

2.99%+2

Variable APR:

2.94%+2

Min. credit score:
Does not disclose
Loan amount:
$5,000 to $300,000
Loan terms (years):
5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
Repayment options:
Military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
Fees:
Late fee
Discounts:
Autopay
Eligibility:
All states except for ME
Customer service:
Email, phone, chat
Soft credit check:
Yes
Cosigner release:
After 24 to 36 months
Loan servicer:
College Ave Servicing LLC
Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance:
$100,000 to $149,000
Max. Graduate Loan Balance:
Less than $300,000
Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
Yes


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.16%+


2.11%+

5, 7, 10, 15, 20$5,000 to $500,000

Fixed rate:

2.44%+1

Variable rate:

2.24%+1

Min. credit score:
680
Loan amount:
$5,000 to $500,000
Cosigner release:
Yes
Loan terms (years):
5, 7, 10, 15, 20
Repayment options:
Academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
Fees:
Late fee
Discounts:
Autopay
Eligibility:
Available in all states, except MS and NV
Customer service:
Email, phone, chat
Soft credit check:
Yes
Loan servicer:
FirstMark
Max. undergraduate loan balance:
$500,000
Max. graduate loan balance:
$500,000
Offers Parent PLUS refinancing:
Yes
Min. income:
$65,000 (for 15- and 20-year products)


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.47%+3


2.39%+3

5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20Minimum of $15,000

Fixed APR:

2.47%+3

Variable APR:

2.39%+3

Min. credit score:
680
Loan amount:
No maximum
Loan terms (years):
5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
Repayment options:
Forbearance
Fees:
None
Discounts:
None
Eligibility:
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have at least $15,000 in student loan debt, and have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved school
Customer service:
Email, phone
Soft credit check:
Yes
Cosigner release:
No
Loan servicer:
Mohela
Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance:
No maximum
Max. Graduate Loan Balance:
No maximum
Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
Yes


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.24%+

7N/A5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20Up to $300,000

Fixed APR:

2.24%+

7
Variable APR:
N/A
Min. credit score:
670
Loan amount:
Up to $300,000
Loan terms (years):
5, 7, 10, 15, 20
Time to fund:
Usually one business day
Repayment options:
Academic deferral, military deferral, forbearance, death/disability discharge
Fees:
None
Discounts:
Autopay
Eligibility:
Available in all 50 states
Customer service:
Email, phone
Soft credit check:
Yes
Cosigner release:
After 24 months
Max. undergraduate loan balance:
$300,000
Max. graduate balance:
$300,000
Offers Parent PLUS loans:
Yes
Min. income:
None


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


3.05%+


3.05%+

7, 10, 15$10,000 up to the total amount of qualified education debt

Fixed APR:

3.05%+

Variable APR:

3.05%+

Min. credit score:
670
Loan amount:
$10,000 up to the total amount
Loan terms (years):
7, 10, 15
Repayment options:
Military deferment, loans discharged upon death or disability
Fees:
None
Discounts:
None
Eligibility:
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
Customer service:
Email, phone
Soft credit check:
Yes
Cosigner release:
No
Loan servicer:
AES
Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance:
No maximum
Max. Gradaute Loan Balance:
No maximum
Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
Yes


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.89%+

N/A5, 8, 12, 15$7,500 to $300,000

Fixed APR:

2.89%+

Variable APR:
N/A
Min. credit score:
670
Loan amount:
$7,500 to $300,000
Loan terms (years):
5, 8, 12, 15
Repayment options:
Does not disclose
Fees:
None
Discounts:
None
Eligibility:
Must be a U.S. citizen and have and at least $7,500 in student loans
Customer service:
Email, phone, chat
Soft credit check:
Yes
Cosigner release:
After 12 months
Loan servicer:
PenFed
Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance:
$300,000
Max. Graduate Loan Balance:
$300,000
Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
Yes


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.49%+

6
1.99%+

65, 7, 10, 15, 20$5,000 up to the full balance of your qualified education loans

Fixed APR:

2.49%+

6
Variable APR:

1.99%+

6
Min. credit score:
Does not disclose
Loan amount:
$5,000 up to the full balance
Loan terms (years):
5, 7, 10, 15, 20
Repayment options:
Academic deferment, military deferment
Fees:
None
Discounts:
Autopay, loyalty
Eligibility:
Available in all 50 states
Customer service:
Email, phone, chat
Soft credit check:
Yes
Cosigner release:
No
Max undergraduate loan balance:
No maximum
Max graduate loan balance:
No maximum
Offers Parent PLUS refinancing:
Yes

Compare personalized rates from multiple lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!

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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 5EDvestinU Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 7ISL Education Lending Disclosures | 6SoFi Disclosures

2. Consider using a cosigner when refinancing

You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for refinancing — a good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher. There are also several lenders that offer refinancing for bad credit, but these loans usually come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.

If you’re struggling to get approved, consider applying with a creditworthy cosigner. Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, having one could get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.

Tip: A cosigner can be anyone with good credit — such as a parent, other relative, or trusted friend — who is willing to share responsibility for the refinanced loan. Keep in mind that this means they’ll be on the hook if you can’t make your payments.

Learn More: Best Student Refinance Companies: Reviewed and Rated

3. Explore income-driven repayment plans

If you have federal student loans, you might consider signing up for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. On an IDR plan, your payments will be based on your income — typically 10% to 20% of your discretionary income. Additionally, you could have any remaining balance forgiven after 20 to 25 years, depending on the plan.

Here’s how the four main IDR plans compare to a few other federal repayment plan options:


Repayment planWho’s eligible?Monthly paymentRepayment termsEligible for loan forgiveness?

Standard repayment planAny borrower with Direct or FFEL LoansAmount when payments are spread equally over 10 years (usually $50 minimum) 10 yearsNo

Graduated repayment planAny borrower with Direct or FFEL LoansDepends on loan amount
(payments start low and increase every 2 years)10 yearsNo

Extended repayment planAny borrower with more than $30,000 in Direct or FFEL LoansFixed: Spread evenly over up to 25 years

Graduated: Depends on loan amount (start low and increase every 2 years)Up to 25 yearsNo

Income-Based Repayment (IBR)Borrowers with partial financial hardship
(no Parent PLUS Loans)For borrowers who took out loans after July 1, 2014: 10% of discretionary income
(never more than 10-year plan)

For borrowers who took out loans before July 1, 2014: 15% of discretionary income
(never more than 10-year plan)For borrowers who took out loans after July 1, 2014: 20 years

For borrowers who took out loans before July 1, 2014: 25 yearsYes

Pay As You Earn (PAYE)Must have partial financial hardshipMust have borrowed on or after Oct. 1, 200710% of discretionary income
(never more than 10-year plan)20 yearsYes

Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)Any borrower
(no Parent PLUS Loans)10% of discretionary income
(no cap)20 years
(25 years if repaying grad school debt)Yes

Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)Any borrower
(Parent PLUS Loans must be consolidated)20% of discretionary income
(or income-adjusted payment on 12-year plan)25 yearsYes

Check Out: PAYE vs. REPAYE: Which Repayment Plan Is Right for You?

4. Pursue loan forgiveness for federal student loans

There are several student loan forgiveness programs available if you have federal student loans. Most of these require you to work in a certain field as well as make qualifying payments for a specific period of time.

For example: If you have federal loans and work for a nonprofit or government organization, you might be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Under this program, you’ll need to make qualifying payments for 10 years to have your loans forgiven.

Some occupations that might qualify for a forgiveness program include:

Dentists
Doctors
Lawyers
Nurses
Pharmacists
Teachers

Keep in mind: Unfortunately, private student loan forgiveness doesn’t exist. However, there are other options that could help you manage your private loans more easily — such as refinancing.

5. Adopt the debt avalanche or debt snowball method

If you have multiple loans and don’t qualify for forgiveness or refinancing, you might just need to buckle down and focus on paying them off. Here are a couple of strategies that could help:

Debt avalanche method

With the debt avalanche method, you’ll concentrate on paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first while continuing to make the minimum payments on your other loans.

After you pay off the highest-interest loan, move on to the loan with the next-highest rate. You’ll continue with this until all of your loans are paid off.

Tip: While the debt avalanche method can be a good option to save money on interest, it can also take a while before you see any results.

If you’re more motivated by small wins, you might consider the debt snowball method instead.

Debt snowball method

With the debt snowball method, you’ll focus on paying off your smallest loan first while making the minimum payments on your other loans.

After this loan is paid off, move on to the next-smallest loan — and continue until all of your loans are paid off.

Tip: The debt snowball method generally offers quicker results. But if you’d rather save more money on interest and don’t mind waiting to see your savings, the debt avalanche might be a better fit.

Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about paying off $300,000 in student loan debt:

How long does it take to pay off $300k student loans?

This will depend on the type of student loans you have and the repayment terms you choose.

Federal student loans: It will generally take 10 to 25 years to pay off federal loans, depending on the repayment plan. You could also opt to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan — this will let you extend your term up to 30 years.
Private student loans: These loans usually come with repayment terms ranging from five to 20 years, depending on the lender.

Learn More: Private Student Loan Consolidation

Can I file for bankruptcy to eliminate my student loan debt?

Yes, you can file bankruptcy for student loan debt. But keep in mind that actually having your student loans discharged could be quite difficult. To have your loans discharged, you’ll have to prove to the court that repaying them would cause an undue hardship on you and your dependents.

If the court decides in your favor, your loans might be:

Fully discharged
Partially discharged with you responsible for the remainder of the balance
Adjusted with different terms to make repayment easier (such as a lower interest rate)

Tip: Bankruptcy will severely damage your credit and make it hard to access new loans in the future. Because of this, it’s best to treat bankruptcy as a last resort after all other repayment strategies have been exhausted.

If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, be sure to consult with a lawyer so you can make the best decision for your financial situation.

Are student loans forgiven after 20 years?

This depends on the type of student loans you have.

If you have federal student loans, you could have your loans forgiven after 20 or 25 years if you sign up for an IDR plan. Or you might be able to have them partially or fully discharged even sooner if you qualify for PSLF or another federal forgiveness program.
If you have private student loans, you won’t be eligible for federal forgiveness programs. But you might be able to save money on interest and even possibly shorten your repayment time through refinancing.

Do children inherit student debt?

Typically no. Here’s what you can typically expect:

Federal students are discharged upon the death of the borrower. If you have Parent PLUS Loans, they’ll be discharged upon the death of either the parent or the student who benefitted from the loan.
Private student loans are often discharged like federal loans — however, this is up to the discretion of the lender. If your lender doesn’t offer a death discharge, then your loans will be considered part of your estate and will be paid off by your assets.

Keep Reading: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?

The post How to Pay Off $300,000 in Student Loans appeared first on Credible.

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