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While the average student loan debt for college students is $39,351, some students might end up leaving school with $70,000 or more in student loans.
Paying off this amount in student loans can feel overwhelming. For example, if you had $70,000 in federal student loans and made payments under the standard 10-year repayment plan with a 6.22% interest rate, you’d end up with a monthly payment of $785 and a total repayment cost of $94,188.
Thankfully, several strategies could help you more easily manage $70,000 in student loans.
Here’s how to pay off $70,000 in student loans:
- 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
- Paying off student loan FAQs
1. Refinance your student loans
Student loan refinancing is the process of paying off your old loans with a new loan from a private lender. Depending on your credit, you might get a lower interest rate through refinancing, which could save you money on interest and even potentially help you pay off your loans faster. The better your credit score, the lower the interest rates you’re likely to qualify for.
Or you could opt to extend your repayment term to reduce your monthly payments and lessen the strain on your budget — though be aware that this 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 so you can find the right loan for your situation. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in just two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan terms (years)||Loan amounts|
|4.9%+||5.33%+||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$10,000 up to $250,000
(depending on degree)
|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)
|6.0%+5||8.05%+5||5, 10, 15, 20||$1,000 to $250,000|
|5.48%+3||5.28%+3||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||$10,000 to $250,000|
|5.9%+4||8.4%+4||5, 10, 15, 20||$5,000 to $250,000|
|6.94%+ 7||N/A||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||Up to $300,000|
|5.24%+||5.52%+||5, 7, 10, 15||Up to $300,000|
|6.2%+||N/A||7, 10, 15||$10,000 up to the total amount of qualified education debt|
|5.79%+||N/A||5, 10, 15||$7,500 up to $250,000
(depending on highest degree earned)
|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 get approved for refinancing — a good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher. Several lenders offer refinancing for bad credit, but these loans tend to come with higher rates compared to good credit loans.
If you have poor or fair credit and are struggling to get approved, consider applying with a 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, signing up for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan could be a good idea. On an IDR plan, your payments are 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
Several student loan forgiveness programs are available to federal student loan borrowers. Most of these require that you work in a certain field and make qualifying payments for a specific amount of time.
Some other occupations that might qualify for a forgiveness program include:
Learn More: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?
5. Adopt the debt avalanche or debt snowball method
If you have multiple student loans and aren’t eligible for refinancing or forgiveness, you might just need to concentrate on paying off your loans as quickly as possible. Here are two strategies that could help:
Debt avalanche method
With the debt avalanche method, you’ll focus on paying off your loan with the highest interest rate first while continuing to make the minimum payments on your other loans.
You’ll then move on to the loan with the next-highest interest rate — continuing until all 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 you repay this loan, you’ll move on to the next-smallest loan — continuing until all your loans have been paid off.
Check Out: Private Student Loan Consolidation
Paying off student loan FAQs
Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about paying off student loans:
How long does it take to pay off $70K student loans?
This will depend on the type of student loans you have and what repayment plan you choose.
- Federal student loans: You could have 10 to 25 years to repay federal loans, depending on the repayment plan you choose. You could also opt to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan and extend your repayment term up to 30 years.
- Private student loans: Terms on private loans typically range from five to 20 years, depending on the lender.
Can I file for bankruptcy to eliminate my student loan debt?
Yes, you can file bankruptcy for student loan debt. However, it can be difficult to actually have your loans discharged. If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll have to prove to the court that paying them would cause an undue hardship for you and your dependents, which generally means that you wouldn’t be able to afford basic needs if you continue to repay the debt.
If the court decides in your favor, your loans could 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)
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 be eligible for forgiveness after 20 to 25 years on an IDR plan. Other forgiveness programs offer forgiveness sooner — for example, you could have your loans forgiven after 10 years if you qualify for PSLF.
- If you have private student loans, you aren’t eligible for forgiveness. In this case, you might consider refinancing your loans for a lower interest rate to potentially reduce your repayment time.
Do children inherit student debt?
Generally no. Here’s what you can typically expect:
- Federal student loans are discharged upon the death of the borrower. If you have a Parent PLUS Loan, it will be discharged if you or the student who benefited from it passes away.
- Private student loans are often discharged similarly to federal loans. However, keep in mind that this is at the discretion of the lender. If the lender doesn’t offer a death discharge option, then your private loans will be considered part of your estate and will be paid off by your assets.