Question: I need help with my student loan. I’m 64 years old and I graduated with my MBA in 2015, and still can’t find a job. I’ve been to several interviews, but no one will hire me either because of my age or because I had a felony when I was 27, even though it has since been discharged and cleared. What can I do?
Have a question about getting out of student loan or other debt?
Answer: The good news is that if you have federal student loans, you have a couple options. While your federal loan payments are likely on pause through May 1, 2022, when you have to begin repaying them, you’re going to want to make the payments manageable. So pros recommend considering an income-driven repayment plan. “If your discretionary income is determined to be $0, your monthly payment could be set as low as $0,” says Rebecca Safier, certified student loan counselor and higher education finance expert at Student Loan Hero. (Note that if you do have federal loans, refinancing is likely not a good option because it will strip the loans of federal protections like income-driven repayment options.)
Not sure which income-based plan to choose? “You can read over different income-driven plans to see which option would be best for you, or you can simply ask your loan servicer to pick the one with the lowest monthly payment,” says Safir.
Another option is to request deferment or forbearance once the federal student loan payment pause is up. Both programs allow you to pause your loan payments temporarily due to financial hardship or other qualifying reasons, but note that in most cases interest will accrue on your loans. (Read more about deferment and forbearance here.) While an income-driven repayment plan is preferable, opting for deferment or forbearance won’t negatively impact your credit score. But pros say it’s not a long-term solution and the accrual of interest can be burdensome.
Private student loans, unfortunately, aren’t eligible for these federal programs, but your loan servicer might be able to work with you to adjust your payments or even pause them temporarily. “It’s worth calling your servicer to discuss your situation and see if they can help. You might also explore refinancing your private student loans, which could lead to a better interest rate and new monthly terms,” says Safier. (See the best student loan refinancing rates you can qualify for here.)
One thing to consider is that if you select a longer term, your monthly payments might go down, but you will pay more in interest. “If you don’t currently have an income, though, you would likely need to apply with a cosigner to qualify,” says Safier.