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Over $300k in student loans - help.

I am single, in my late 20s, and I have about $65,000 in private loans and $255,000 in federal loans. I was a minor when taking out the majority of those loans over 10 years ago, and basically at the behest of my parents, who said they needed the money for living expenses. I am no longer on speaking terms with them. I have consulted with a lawyer since, who was sympathetic but advised that legal costs and the drawn-out nature of the legal system would mean that I could end up with even more debt and it could easily take 8+ years to reach a resolution. I have decided against a lawsuit, especially since I have recently heard that my parents are in poor health (one has a terminal diagnosis).

I am a relatively new grad RN. The average starting salary here is about $58-60,000. I am completing an NP certification (paying out-of-pocket) and expect to complete it in 2 years, which will boost my earning potential. However, even if I live as a pauper, I will spend at least 10 years paying off the loans.

I have spoken to several advisors and PSLF is an option if I continue working for a nonprofit hospital or other organization for 10 years, which is still a long time, but at least it frees up some money for retirement/investment/etc. If PSLF fails, I can use that money towards paying off the loans. It's obviously a risk. Does anyone have any other ideas on what I could do? I've looked into the NHSC repayment option but I'm not sure it would help much, since most of my loans are not from nursing school.

I'm having a hard time dealing with the reality of this burden. I want to do normal things like save for retirement, maybe get married, buy a small house. It feels like I'll be losing 10 years of my life to loans that my parents used. It really sucks.

CaffeinePOQ4HPRN, BSN, MSN, LPN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

I'm sorry for what you're going through. I wish I had answers. I understand how you might be feeling and how difficult this must be for you, because I've lived through a similar situation. It's a beyond frustrating situation that people who can receive financial help from their spouse or family will NEVER understand. So, on that point, if you have benefits with your current employer I'd highly recommend that you link up with a good therapist to help you safeguard your mental health and manage the stress. My debt stress almost pushed me into an irrecoverable burnout. So, please ensure you take care of yourself!

It took me around 10+ years to clear my student loan debt. I had no help, and it wasn't fun but there is a light at the end of the tunnel once you start to knock your principal down. Unfortunately, during those 10+ years I did lose out on "life"; it impacted my ability to do things like travel or accomplish certain life goals (ex. dating, get married, buy a house, etc). I was surprised, but understood why, how many men didn't want to date me because of my student loan debt. I hope that doesn't happen for you.

If you want to clear your loans on a quicker schedule, look into rural nursing jobs that the government deems "remote enough" to be eligible for a loan forgiveness program. These types of programs exist for medical/nursing professionals and they pay down a portion of your loans. So, you'll still be responsible for making some payments.

In Canada, if you are a nurse or nurse practitioner and you qualify, you could receive up to $20,000 in Canada Student Loan forgiveness over a maximum of five years ($4,000 per year).

Canada Student Loan forgiveness for family doctors and nurses:
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/education/student-aid/grants-loans/repay/assistance/doctors-nurses/amount.html

Edited by CaffeinePOQ4HPRN

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Has 13 years experience. Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

53 minutes ago, CaffeinePOQ4HPRN said:

So, on that point, if you have benefits with your current employer I'd highly recommend that you link up with a good therapist to help you safeguard your mental health to help and manage the stress. My debt stress almost pushed me into an irrecoverable burnout. So, please ensure you take care of yourself!

EVERYONE, no matter their age or experience, should take this advice and run with it.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Has 27 years experience. Specializes in dialysis.

I'm blown away by the amount. I didn’t even know that you could borrow that amount, whether government or private loans or a mix. I thought there was a cap to avoid this type of situation. If not, perhaps there should be

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 8 years experience. Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes.

Good Lord! I thought I was bad with my $150K. I have started the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

I am 56. It will take me 10 years to complete this program, which, ideally, would let me retire at 66 with no loan payments. My issue is that I have been a professional student for 20 years and one bad mistake going to a private university (a different field). The saving grace is that all of mine are federal loans which can be included in PSLF. I am not sure if your private loans would be.

For private loans, can you claim bankruptcy. I cannot with the Fed student loans.

I was able to get a reduced payment by filing married/separate. I wish they would educate students better about the consequences of student loans.

I am trying to raise 2 special needs kids and I am having to put the oldest through college as he doesn't qualify for any help b/c I make too much money. It's all a racket.

Good Luck! I wish you all the best

On 8/18/2020 at 7:36 PM, Hoosier_RN said:

I'm blown away by the amount. I didn’t even know that you could borrow that amount, whether government or private loans or a mix. I thought there was a cap to avoid this type of situation. If not, perhaps there should be

And perhaps one should only take out the amount needed for education related expenses.

On 8/18/2020 at 10:32 AM, friendlyskies said:

...I was a minor when taking out the majority of those loans over 10 years ago, and basically at the behest of my parents, who said they needed the money for living expenses. ...

[...]

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Has 27 years experience. Specializes in dialysis.

On 8/18/2020 at 8:03 PM, chare said:

And perhaps one should only take out the amount needed for education related expenses.

I paid for mine, cash and scholarships, back in the day, when one could actually do that fairly easy. Reading totals now just blows my mind. If I'd had to take loans, it would have been for amount needed, not what is max allowed, like I've heard of many doing. Also, for profit schools take advantage of this situation, and leave many new grads with a long future of pay pay pay

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

I twinge when thinking about OP, in late 20's, declaring bankruptcy!

HiddencatBSN, BSN

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Peds ED.

Have you talked to a bankruptcy lawyer? I know that in general student loans don’t qualify but I was reading recently that it is sometimes possible to have partial forgiveness through bankruptcy. It’s harder than typical bankruptcy but with your debt and even increased earning potential it’s worth at least investigating. I cant imagine you’re making a dent in the interest even with federal loan rates. I’m sorry; what a tough position to be in.

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Has 25 years experience. Specializes in school nurse.

11 hours ago, mmc51264 said:

Good Lord! I thought I was bad with my $150K. I have started the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

I am trying to raise 2 special needs kids and I am having to put the oldest through college as he doesn't qualify for any help b/c I make too much money. It's all a racket.

You have $150K in loans and you're (I infer) taking on more debt because you have to put your oldest through college? I don't understand this way of thinking.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Has 25 years experience. Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health.

I am so sorry your parents did that. You will still be young in 10 years so just get it paid and then move on. Alternatively, if the private ones can be relieved by bankruptcy then do it. Millions of people have rebuilt their credit after bankruptcy. The important thing is you have a career that will allow you to live decently on a cash basis if needed and you are young enough to absolutely recover from this and even if it takes 10 years you will still have a lot of time to save for retirement and build a good life.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

I would suggest reading Dave Ramsey, who is excellent about advising people how to get out of debt. That your parents did this to you is unforgivable. Is there any chance they can help with the payments?

I declared bankruptcy in my early 30s. I also owed the IRS money. I won't go into the details, but my credit score is now 820, higher than my husband's, who has never had any kind of financial issue. If you are able to get forgiveness for any of those via bankruptcy it is worth looking into. The next 10 years are going to be hard either way. I am so sorry for what you are going through. Whatever you do, do not default on the government loans. It gets reported to the BON if you do.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Has 40 years experience. Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia.

Something is not right about this. $255k in federal loans (?) to a minor (?). Parents are not co-signors?

Max federal student loan amount is less than a third of that for undergraduates, half that for grad.

Is it $256 in federal student loans? Or are these private, individual loans? Did your parents co-sign these loans? How did they acquire this money to live on from you?

I second Dave Ramsey. He’s great at helping people get rid of debt. My ex and I paid off two homes and lived debt free. I continue to live debt free aside from my car and house. And I’m paying both down.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

On 8/19/2020 at 8:41 AM, LovingLife123 said:

Is it $256 in federal student loans? Or are these private, individual loans? Did your parents co-sign these loans? How did they acquire this money to live on from you?

I second Dave Ramsey. He’s great at helping people get rid of debt. My ex and I paid off two homes and lived debt free. I continue to live debt free aside from my car and house. And I’m paying both down.

Yep. We paid off our home mortgage in a little less than 9 years and we buy our cars with cash. We have a quality of life I never imagined possible with plenty of money for travel abroad (well....back when that was possible). We use credit cards to build up the airline miles, but pay it off literally as we make the charges. I love living debt free and I hope the OP gets to experience it. The original post literally makes my stomach hurt. That kind of debt is a prison sentence.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Has 27 years experience. Specializes in dialysis.

54 minutes ago, meanmaryjean said:

Something is not right about this. $255k in federal loans (?) to a minor (?). Parents are not co-signors?

Max federal student loan amount is less than a third of that for undergraduates, half that for grad.

My thoughts exactly. I'm trying to wrap my head around this amount

I too, have a colleague who swears by Dave Ramsey. She's 50 and completely debt free.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Has 27 years experience. Specializes in dialysis.

1 hour ago, MelEpiRN said:

I too, have a colleague who swears by Dave Ramsey. She's 50 and completely debt free.

Dave Ramsey is amazing. I used his program to turn my life around post divorce and ex had DESTROYED my credit. I may not be where I want to be, but I'm a whole lot closer than I was before the program. It took 7 years to pay off everything

Edited by Hoosier_RN

marienm, RN, CCRN

Has 7 years experience. Specializes in Burn, ICU.

I'm no expert, OP, but it's worth seeing if any of these loans can be consolidated. I was able to consolidate my private loans (already had a bachelor's degree so I didn't qualify for much federal aid and the federal loans were not enough). This lowered my interest rate considerably. (Assuming that legal recourse and/or bankruptcy do not meet all your needs.)

Also, in no way trying to minimise your plight but 10 years isn't atypical for paying off big loans. You might even consider whether taking longer to pay them off allows you to live a slightly more comfortable life and cover some of your other priorities as well. It won't save you money, but living a life of deprivation for 10 years won't help your sanity either! I'm not generally a "debt is just a part of life" person...the only debt we carry is our house and a new vehicle...but I personally would find it easier to commit to budgeting $1000/month (or whatever amount...that's how much I paid for 5.5 years on a similar salary) and figuring they'll be paid off when they're done versus trying to live on beans, rice, and ramen for 10 years.

Good luck to you and I second all the above about taking care of your mental health during this.

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