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Paying for college can be expensive. While the average student loan debt for college students is $39,351, it isn’t uncommon for students to leave school with $80,000 or more in education debt.
Tackling this amount of student loan debt can be difficult and time consuming. For example, if you had $80,000 in federal student loans made payments on the standard 10-year repayment plan with a 6.22% interest rate, you’d end up with a monthly payment of $897 and a total repayment cost of $107,643.
The good news is that there are multiple strategies that could help you pay off $80,000 in student loans more easily — and sometimes, more quickly as well.
Here are five ways to pay off $80,000 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
1. Refinance your student loans
If you refinance your student loans, you’ll take out a new private loan to pay off your old loans, leaving you with just one loan and payment to manage. Depending on your credit, you might qualify for a lower interest rate through refinancing — this could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on interest as well as potentially help you pay off your loans faster.
Or you could opt to extend your repayment term to reduce your monthly payments and lessen the strain on your budget. Just keep in mind that by choosing a longer term, 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 to find the right loan for you. 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
Most lenders require you to have good to excellent credit to qualify for student loan 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 typically have higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.
If you have poor credit and are struggling to get approved, consider applying with a creditworthy cosigner to improve your chances. 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 make your loan payments easier to manage. On an IDR plan, your payments are based on your income — usually 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 forgiveness programs available to federal student loan borrowers. These programs generally require you to be employed in a certain field and to make qualifying payments for a specific period of time.
Other professions that might qualify for federal forgiveness programs include:
Learn More: Private Student Loan Consolidation
5. Adopt the debt avalanche or debt snowball method
There are also some situations where you might simply have to concentrate on paying off your loans as quickly as possible — such as if you have multiple loans and aren’t eligible for forgiveness. Here are a couple of payoff 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 making the minimum payments on your other loans.
Once this first loan is paid off, you’ll move on to the loan with the next-highest interest rate — continuing until all of your loans are repaid.
Debt snowball method
With the debt snowball method, you’ll target your smallest loan first as you continue making the minimum payments on your other loans.
After this first loan is repaid, you’ll move on to the next-smallest loan — continuing until all of your loans have been paid off.
Check Out: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?
Frequently asked questions
Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about paying off $70,000 in student loans:
How long does it take to pay off $70,000 in student loans?
This will mainly depend on the type of student loans you have and your repayment plan.
- Federal student loans: Depending on the repayment plan you choose, it could take 10 to 25 years to repay your federal loans. You could also choose to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan and extend your term up to 30 years.
- Private student loans: Repayment terms on private loans usually range from five to 20 years, depending on the lender. You might also be able to reduce your repayment time by refinancing to a shorter term or by making extra payments on your loans.
Can I file for bankruptcy to eliminate my student loan debt?
Yes, you can file bankruptcy for student loan debt. However, it could be hard 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 repaying your loans would cause an undue hardship for you and your dependents.
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 loans you have.
- If you have federal student loans and sign up for an IDR plan, you could have any remaining balance forgiven after 20 to 25 years. There are also other programs that offer forgiveness sooner — for example, if you’re eligible for PSLF, you could have your loans forgiven after 10 years.
- If you have private student loans, you aren’t eligible for forgiveness. If you have good credit, it could be a good idea in this case to refinance for a lower interest rate so you can save money on interest and possibly shorten your repayment time.
Do children inherit student debt?
Typically no. Here’s what generally happens with student loan debt after death:
- Federal student loans are discharged upon the death of the primary borrower. If you have a Parent PLUS Loan, it will be discharged if you or the student who benefitted from it passes away.
- Private student loans are often discharged similarly to federal loans — though keep in mind that this is at the discretion of the lender. If the lender doesn’t discharge the loans, they’ll be considered part of your estate and paid off by your assets.