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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.
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:
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan terms (years)||Loan amounts|
|7.0%+1||7.29%+1||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$10,000 to $500,000
(depending on degree and loan type)
|6.99%+2||6.99%+2||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||$5,000 to $300,000
(depending on degree type)
|5.48%+3||5.28%+3||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||$10,000 to $250,000|
|6.94%+ 7||N/A||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||Up to $300,000|
|5.24%+||5.54%+||5, 7, 10, 15||$5,000 to $300,000|
|6.2%+||N/A||7, 10, 15||$10,000 up to the total amount of qualified education debt|
|Compare personalized rates from multiple lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!
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 | 8Nelnet Bank 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.
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 plan||Who’s eligible?||Monthly payment||Repayment terms||Eligible for loan forgiveness?|
|Standard repayment plan||Any borrower with Direct or FFEL Loans||Amount when payments are spread equally over 10 years (usually $50 minimum)||10 years||No|
|Graduated repayment plan||Any borrower with Direct or FFEL Loans||Depends on loan amount|
(payments start low and increase every 2 years)
|Extended repayment plan||Any borrower with more than $30,000 in Direct or FFEL Loans||Fixed: Spread evenly over up to 25 years|
Graduated: Depends on loan amount (start low and increase every 2 years)
|Up to 25 years||No|
|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 years
|Pay As You Earn (PAYE)||10% of discretionary income|
(never more than 10-year plan)
|Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)||Any borrower|
(no Parent PLUS Loans)
|10% of discretionary income|
(25 years if repaying grad school debt)
|Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)||Any borrower|
(Parent PLUS Loans must be consolidated)
|20% of discretionary income|
(or income-adjusted payment on 12-year plan)
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.
Some occupations that might qualify for a forgiveness program include:
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.
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.
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)
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?