I have a dire question that needs urgent results. I took out a
loan in college (undergraduate). I was foolish and took out the
maximum loan amount that I could each time. Upon graduating, I moved
to another state and began my teaching career. In the beginning years
it was hard for me to make payments and I made bad choices and went
into forbearance and many times missed payments, etc. So now my loan
(on which I pay $450.00 a month on my teacher's salary) has reached a
balance of $53,000. I have been making the $450.00 a month payment
continuously for about a year now and there is no dent in the balance.
I have an opportunity to go to graduate school and become a media
specialist, but I can't make ends meet with the payment I have now. I
need help and I don't know where to get it. Is there any way that it
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can return to the original loan amount of $20,000.00?
— Kalie B.
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of the additional debt plus all the interest that will accrue while
your current loans are in an in-school deferment. Your financial
situation is already difficult. You should not compound the
difficulties with more debt.
You are not seeing much of a dent in the principal balance in part
because about two-thirds of your monthly payment is going to the new
interest on the loan. Loan payments are applied first to collection
charges (as much as 25% of the payment), then late fees (as much as 6%
of the payment), then interest and finally the principal balance of
But a $20,000 debt does not grow to $53,000 without an extended period
of nonpayment. In all likelihood you've accumulated a lot of accrued
but unpaid interest due to the long periods of nonpayment. Now that
you're repaying the debt, the monthly payment has to first pay off the
accrued but unpaid interest before it can pay down the principal
It may not look like you're making a dent in the loan balance because
the loan statement lists the principal balance separately from the
interest balance, but you are reducing the total amount owed, albeit
There is, however, some good news. If your loans are federal
education loans, look into
income based repayment
. Income-based repayment is a new program that
started on July 1, 2009. It bases your monthly payment on your income,
not the amount you owe. After 25 years in repayment, any remaining
amount owed will be forgiven. However, as a teacher you probably
qualify for public service loan forgiveness, which can accelerate the
forgiveness to 10 years. You'll need to get your
loans into the Direct Loan program if they aren't already in the
Direct Loan program. (You can move them into the Direct Loan
program by consolidating them at
After ten years of full-time employment in a public service job while
repaying your loans in the Direct Loan program, any remaining amount
owed on your federal student loans will be forgiven.
Unfortunately, there is no similar option for private student loans.