How to Pay Off $200,000 in Student Loans
Having a large amount of student loan debt can be daunting. This article will help you explore some repayment plans that may be right for you.
Tackling your student loan debt can feel like a daunting task, especially if you feel buried under a large amount. If you have $200,000 (or more) in student loan debt, you might feel like you’ll never get to the point where you can pay it off.
Even though it feels difficult, it’s still possible to get rid of $200K in student loans. Here are some ideas on how to pay off $200,000 in student loans.
4 ideas on how to pay off $200,000 in student loans
Depending on your situation, there are different ways to start demolishing your $200K student loan debt. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can move forward and get rid of all that debt.
1. Start by refinancing your student loans
Best for: Borrowers with large private student loan debt, good credit (or a cosigner), and those with a high monthly payment.
When you refinance your student loans, you replace your current debt with one bigger loan. However, the new loan should have a lower interest rate, helping you put more of each payment toward reducing the principal and getting you out of debt faster.
Refinancing usually works best for those with private student loans because you lose your federal loan benefits and protections when you refinance. So, if you already have private loans, it might make sense to refinance those to a lower rate and payment and tackle your $200,000 in student loans that way.
An organization like Juno can help with refinancing by connecting you with the best deals on student loan refinancing. Through the power of collective bargaining, Juno’s members get access to great rates that can reduce interest and help you pay off your student loans faster.
In order to get a better deal, though, you do need to have good credit. If you can’t qualify on your own, consider seeing if you can get a cosigner who can help you get a loan at a lower rate.
2. Apply for student loan forgiveness
Best for: Employees of government or non-profits and those with high federal student loan balances.
Many student loan forgiveness programs are aimed at those with federal student loan payments. In order to qualify for forgiveness with $200,000 in student loan debt, you generally need to keep those loans as federal (no refinancing).
However, there are different programs that you can consider, depending on your situation and career path.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness. With this program, if you work for a government entity or nonprofit, you can have your remaining loan balance paid off after working for 10 years, making 120 qualifying payments.
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness. If you work in an area with high need, you can have a portion of your federal student loans forgiven after five years, reducing your balance.
- Healthcare Professional Loan Forgiveness. There are government programs for different healthcare professionals working to commit to work in high-need areas for a certain amount of time.
In addition to federal programs, some states have their own forgiveness programs, and some of those programs might include private student loans as well as federal loans. Look for ways to devote some of your time in your career to serving those who need it, and you might be able to have some of your $200K in student loans forgiven, making it easier to pay down your debt.
3. Income-driven repayment
Best for: High federal loans balances with payments that are high in comparison with their income.
If your income is relatively low in comparison with your monthly student loan payments, you might qualify for income-driven repayment. There are four different plans, and they can all help you reduce your monthly payments to improve your monthly cash flow. It’s important to note that you can only qualify for income-driven repayment on your federal student loan balances.
With income-driven repayment, the remainder of your $200,000 student loan debt is forgiven after you’ve been on the plan for 20 or 25 years. Even though this process takes longer, it might help you with your day-to-day expenses. One of the downsides to pursuing income-driven repayment is that it could result in paying more interest over time. But, if you have high payments and can’t afford them, this can be one way to improve your monthly budget.
Income-driven repayment also works well with Public Service Loan Forgiveness, since you’ll need to be on one of these plans in order to still have a balance to forgive at the end of 10 years.
4. Use the debt avalanche method
Best for: Higher earners who can make bigger payments and want to get out of debt faster.
If you have $200,000 in student loans and want to tackle them quickly — and you can afford to make bigger payments — the debt avalanche is one way to go. With this method, you figure out how much extra you can put toward reducing your student loan debt each month. Then, while paying the minimum on all your debts, you choose one debt to receive an extra payment, usually the one with the highest interest rate.
Once that debt has been retired, you take the entire amount you’ve been paying on it (minimum plus extra) and apply it toward the next student loan debt on your list. As you go along, your payments have a bigger impact and you potentially get rid of your $200K student loan debt faster. Refinancing your private student loans can help with this strategy by reducing your rate and making sure more of your extra payment goes toward principal reduction.
Additionally, if you’re a high earner who doesn’t qualify for income-driven repayment or student loan forgiveness, refinancing with help from a company like Juno and then using the debt avalanche method can help you reduce your debt faster.
Figuring out how to pay off $200,000 in student loans requires planning and consistency. You can potentially combine different strategies to be more effective in tackling your $200,000 student loan debt.
Miranda has 10+ years of experience covering financial markets for various online and offline publications, including contributions to Marketwatch, NPR, Forbes, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, and The Hill. She is the co-host of the Money Tree Investing podcast and she has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University
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