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How to Pay Off $100k Plus in Student Debt

By Zack Geist, Founder Student Loan Tutor
May 12, 2021

If you’ve been researching the best way to pay off a large student loan balance, you’ve likely been told to pay it off as quickly as possible with the lowest interest rate possible. If this were a normal debt that would be appropriate, but for most borrowers, especially high balance borrowers, this is usually the wrong approach.

Federal student loans work differently than any other debt out there. Traditional financial advice just doesn’t take into account the unique repayment opportunities that provide substantial benefits, subsidies, and loan forgiveness.  

Bottom line is, it is a very expensive mistake to manage federal student loans like they were a car loan, credit card or mortgage debt.

Department of Education Repayment Programs

If you have a very high income and expect it to stay that way for 10+ years, the cheapest repayment strategy may likely be to refinance. In this context, a very high income means over $300k per year on salary. Non-salary income over this amount is fine.

This may not always be the case. It all depends on how you are compensated. When you speak with us we will look at the best repayment option for your specific situation.

When refinancing with a private lender, get the lowest interest rate and pay them off as fast as possible. Ensure the refinance includes a death discharge policy so the loans don't pass to your loved ones if you die.

For everyone without very high incomes (and often even for those borrowers), the far less expensive strategy is to leverage all of the benefits of the Department of Education repayment programs, get the lowest monthly payment allowable, and make payments and stay actively enrolled over 20-25 years to receive full student loan forgiveness on the remaining debt. If you work full time for a non-profit or the government it only takes 10 years until forgiveness occurs.

Challenges of Paying Off Student Debt

Unfortunately however, knowing which program and filing strategies give you the most savings, and then doing the annual paperwork and servicer follow up to ensure all the mistakes they’ll make are corrected has proven to be a serious obstacle for borrowers so far.

I wish this wasn’t true but according to a report released in March 2021, the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) reported that of the 2 million people who should have qualified for student loan forgiveness over the last 25 years, only 32 actually received their forgiveness. It’s an abysmal and insane figure.

And the main reason for it seems to lie in the 61% servicer error rate reported by the inspector general in their latest audit. A single servicer error that goes un-corrected can lead to the borrower being kicked out of their repayment program and losing the program repayment track record needed to qualify for forgiveness.

So what’s the solution? Can student loan borrowers that have six figures of student loan debt that aren’t earning huge incomes get a good deal on repayment that will actually come to fruition?

The answer is a resounding YES. But when your balance is that high it is highly recommended to work with a credible student loan repayment expert to ensure the best strategies are put into place and can do the paperwork and servicer follow up for you to make sure they are implemented.

Paying Off Your Debt with Student Loan Tutor

As far as we know, we are actually the only firm that has maintained a near flawless reputation and does both strategy and implementation for clients. There are some others who will help you find the optimal repayment strategies, but what good is the theory if you never get the follow through and the promised loan forgiveness?

If you’d like to find out if you’re a good candidate for our services, schedule a free evaluation with one of our professionals. We’d love to help you if we can.

You may have a loan, but you’re not alone!

Zack Geist,
Founder, Student Loan Tutor

About the Author

Zack Geist

Zack Geist founded Student Loan Tutor in 2015. As one of the leading experts in federal student loan repayment he and his team have taught thousands of student loan borrowers all over the country how to save enormous amounts of money and hassle. He currently resides on the Hamakua Coast of Big Island Hawaii.

More Resources

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What Is Student Loan Forgiveness?

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What is student loan forgiveness? In this article, we cover student loan forgiveness, student loan repayments, and how you can save more.

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Learn more about how you can master your federal student loans. Read our blog article today to get the latest insights.

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