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should i pay off or stay on IBR: not as easy a decision as it seems...
August 12, 2016
7:13 pm


i am having difficulty with a student loan decision and am wondering if i could get some input from people with experience in the same boat.

i incurred my loan in 1991, when i was in my early 20s. my father asked me to take out student loans, but that he would pay them off later. i was able to get them without a co-signer. it was for a degree i didn’t want (JD), and when i held up my end of the bargain – finished school; passed the bar – and he didn’t, i was bitter and angry and miserable.

i have lived my life being that way because i never wanted to be an attorney. stupid me, i thought i was somehow getting back at him, so i made no real attempt to make any significant dent in paying them back. i then suffered anxiety; depression; the whole ball of wax. i have never really practiced a day in my life and have regretted my decision to go to law school.

cut to 2008. i took advantage of IBR and on my loan amount of $95,000, i only paid $200/month. did it alleviate the anxiety and depression? nope. today, my loan is $160,489.07. my estimated pay out date is 2032. i don’t make much money and truly need a program like IBR to survive. but then…

an older relative (on a fixed income) was a beneficiary to a life insurance policy. she has seen me struggle with this loan, and wants to help. she offered to pay off the entire amount,

i called my student loan company to see if they would agree to a settlement but they won’t because i am on IBR and in good standing. the representative suggested that i stay on IBR until 2032.

i then called a student loan attorney who said that he wouldn’t even try to settle my debt and instead offered this advice: to NOT pay off my loan; stay on IBR and just change my attitude. he told me to never get married; never be more than marginally employed (meaning: make no more than $65,000 a year) and never show any assets that can be traced to me. when i told him that the anxiety of having this loan was getting to me, he told me to just see a shrink but that i would be stupid to pay off anything and that my concerns about the tax consequences once my loan balance is forgiven are “unfounded”. in his opinion, he doesn’t think the government will force any person receiving loan forgiveness to actually have to pay a huge tax bill.

my gut tells me that he is wrong; that by 2032, my loan will be triple what it is today and that i will then be in my 60s and really screwed. i also feel like the right thing to do is to pay off my loan; and long for a day without this hanging over my head. BUT… borrowing $160,489.07 from an 83 year old woman on a fixed income is also weighing on me. i will make her the beneficiary of my life insurance policy in case i pre-decease her and also pay her $ every month, but still.

any thoughts on what you would do if faced with the same decision?

September 19, 2016
9:03 pm

Have you received a remedy to your situation?

August 10, 2018
1:01 pm

I, also, am in a similar situation and have visited this website hoping for some guidance. My loans are in good standing but I’m interested in settling. I realize I would take a hit to my awesome credit but I’m wondering… how bad would that hit be?

I notice that this post is several years old and no one has responded- at all. I’d like to bring attention back to it. I’d like to hear from Micheal Lux and possibly Heather, herself, to see where she is with everything 2 years later.

August 10, 2018
2:17 pm
Forum Posts: 352
Member Since:
May 3, 2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hey Summer,

I’m not sure why this original question never got answered. Thanks for bringing some attention to it.

With certain debts, not paying and then settling for less than the full value may be a reasonable strategy. Going this route is incredibly difficult with student loans because of the difficulty of getting the debt discharged in bankruptcy. As a result, student loan settlements are rare. Lenders know you have almost no alternative to paying the debt in full. If you have federal loans, getting the government to settle the debt for less than full value may be even more difficult.

Based upon your question, it sounds like you don’t have enough to pay off the full balance, but if you have enough for a settlement, it sounds like you have a fairly large chunk of change at your disposal. Aggressively paying off the loans may be your best option.

For borrowers like Heather, looking into the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) repayment plan can be a good option because it will limit the growth of the balance. More on REPAYE and other repayment plans here: https://studentloansherpa.com/repayment-plan-options-strategy/

Ultimately, my personal opinion on this one is that wrecking an excellent credit score on the slim possibility of a student loan debt settlement is risky. Anyone choosing to intentionally go down this route should know that it is possible it will cost them more in the long run.

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