Debt can suck and student loan debt especially. This is a great resource to help you navigate your student debt!

About this page

Let this page be a guide for you and your student loans, so you don’t screw them up.

In this page, you will find information regarding common situations facing individuals with student loan debt.  We go over the different pay down options available to you and some other options you may benefit from.  We show you how and why you should purchase an analysis before making any changes to student loans so you don’t loose protections.  For those who are in deep financial trouble, we talk about your options and programs available to you.  We end with ways to increase your income and reduce expense so you may pay down your student loans faster.

Common situations people face when they have student loan debt

There are many difficult situations people face when it comes to student loans.  These are just a handful of situations quite common for people.

  • You are a fresh grad, you haven’t found a job yet, and your loans are coming due.
  • You lost your job and are having trouble making payments.
  • You are not making enough income in your current job to make payments.
  • You are not making enough income to make additional payments to pay off the loans quickly.
  • You have a high interest rate compared to current interest rates.
  • You have bad credit, making it difficult to refinance.
  • You had an addition to your family and your expenses are now too high.
  • You are dealing with a disability and your income is now limited.
  • You lost the breadwinner of your family and didn’t have adequate life insurance.

Many of you will fit into one of these categories when it comes to student loan debt and how to pay them off.  Whatever your circumstances, it is always smart to educate yourself as best you can before making a single change to your loans.

Know your options

It is important for you to understand your options when it comes to student loan debt; there is a plethora of advice out there, and a lot of it can be a one-size-fits-all approach.  Most advice you will read will be WAY too simplistic; 90% of articles will simply tell you to just go refinance your student loan debt, and, voila, cured! 

While refinancing your student loan debt can be a great thing, there are other factors you need to consider before pulling that trigger.

Pay down Options

When it comes to pay down options, there are several options available to those who have student loan debt.

Four repayment plan options

  1. Standard = fixed over 10 yrs.

The most common option (probably your current plan) is a standard payment over a period of 10 years.  The payment is fixed, so you will pay the same payment for your loan over a 10 year period until the loan is paid off.

  1. Graduated = start with lower payments which increase over time

This lowers your payment when you are younger, and, as you age, the payment increases.  This can be dangerous to someone who doesn’t have an increase in income over time, or someone who loses their job down the road.

  1. Extension = pay over a longer period of time

Some loan servicers will allow an extension of time to pay off your loan.  If you currently pay a loan over a 10 year term, you may be able to extend it to a 15 year term for example.  This will lower your monthly payment, but increase the amount of time until you pay off your loan.

  1. Income based = lower payments with lower-income

For those with federally subsidized loans, you may qualify for an income based repayment plan.  As your income increases or decreases, your monthly payment will also increase or decrease.  This is for individuals who have a low amount of income coming in per month so they can still manage paying their student loans.

student loan debt graduation

Other Options


Some individuals will ask to postpone or reduce payment due to financial difficulty.  Forbearance may be an option if you are currently going through a difficult financial situation.  This could be due to a job loss, or a reduction of income, or even a loss of a spouse.

Forbearance does not mean you do not have to pay the loan back; it just means you do not have to make payments for a defined period of time, until your situation improves.


Consolidation is a big industry right now.  Since interest rates are low, some will qualify to consolidate their loans.  In this situation, a private company purchases your student loans and then turns around and charges you a lower interest rate for those loans than you were previously paying.  This can help you reduce your monthly payment since the interest rate will be reduced.

If you are trying to make a decision between these different options, you should first know if you have private loans, or if you have government subsidized loans, or both.  This is extremely important because you may benefit from certain protections available to you in your current loan structure.

Get an analysis BEFORE you make any changes to your loans

Earlier I mentioned there are 32 different student loan types.  Of these 32 loan types, there are 59 unique loan status codes.  There are also 10 distinct origination date segments.  When combining all of the different possible structures, you end up with 18,880 unique combinations!

It is just so unbelievably complicated to manage the many options available for each unique person’s student loan debt.  You should not expect to master student loan debt on your own, which is why I highly suggest a proper analysis be done before a single change is made to a single student loan.

If you are interested in an analysis of your different options listed above, you really should consider going through a SLADE™ analysis.

SLADE Analysis

Have you ever heard of a Death Mandatory Forbearance?  How about an Unpaid Refund Cancellation?  Of course you haven’t heard these two terms; there is no reason why you should.

The SLADE analysis considers 135 different solutions such as the two just mentioned.  SLADE is a decision engine analysis which asks you up to 25 questions in order to find potential solutions to your student loan debt.  There is no way for someone not specializing in student loans to know these many different solutions and protections.  For this reason, before you speak with a consolation company, or make any change to your loan or loan payment amount, I would highly suggest you go through this analysis first.

You can easily purchase the analysis by filling out the below from for $39.99:

Remember, if you consolidate your loans, you will lose any possible protections provided to you.  It is my view that you should do a SLADE™ analysis before you make such a huge decision of consolidation.


If you have done the SLADE™ analysis and you conclude that consolidation of your loans is the best option for you, then you can go ahead and consolidate.  When you consolidate, you are effectively having your current loans paid off by a private company.  That company is then charging you a lower interest rate for the same loans.  The company you use to consolidate is able to profit because of the low-interest rate environment; they payoff your loan and make a profit from the interest they, in turn, charge you.  Even though it’s lower.

If you have done your research and are interested in student loan consolidation, you can look into having quotes from Sofi, Lendkey and Upstart.


SoFi has some of the most postiive comments and ratings on the internet when it comes to student loan consolidation.  You will generally need medium-high to high credit score in order to qualify for a SoFi refinance.

You can read more about Sofi here: SoFi Student Loan Page


Some people love Lendkey because they are funded by community banks, as opposed to large multinational corporations.  Lendkey also has a lot of postive reviews on the internet and many people have been happy using their services to refinance.

You can read more about LendKey here: LendKey


What is interesting about Upstart is they will take into consideration factors that other lenders usually wont.  If a borrower does not have credit history, they may consider factors such as your education and job history when approving a loan.  Mark Cuban is also an investor in the company.

You can read more about Upstart here: Upstart Page

What to do if you have major debt and financial troubles

If you have major financial problems, you should know you are not alone.  There are many people who have gone through major financial problems, and are currently going though financial problems.  If you feel this is you, you have options.

You may wish to seek credit counseling.  Many are afraid of the word “counseling” but a credit counselor can be of tremendous help.  When choosing a credit counselor, you should search for accredited companies. Here is an article from the FTC website about choosing the right debt counselor: FTC Article

You can also visit the Financial Counseling Association of America’s (FCAA) website: FCAA Link

Another association which can help you is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).  You can see their website here: NFCC Link

My suggestion is to inquire the status of the company you are considering working with for credit counselling.  I suggest only working with a nonprofit status company to help you.  I would stay away from the for-profit credit counseling companies. 

You may want to consider the following before choosing a credit counselor:

  • Nonprofit status
  • BBB rating
  • Intermediary membership
  • Length of time in business
  • User testimonials – especially in unmoderated venues like Yelp

Remember, if you have serious debt problems, you should seek professional help.  A credit counselor can help you tackle these problems head on.

Ideas to pay down debt faster

Paydown student loans quicker

The final section of this article involves ideas to help you pay-down your student loans faster by earning a little extra cash each week and reducing expenses.

Stock Street has published various articles on ways to earn a little extra income in your spare time.  Use our ideas to help you speedup the time it will take for you to reach your debt goals.

The idea of earning extra income is powerful.  The average student loan debt is in the $30,000 range.  If you have a student loan balance of $30,000 and you pay a 7% interest rate over a term of 10 years, you will pay almost $350 per month.  If you are able to make an additional $50 per week and add that money to your monthly payment, you will be able to pay off your loan in around 5 ½ years instead of 10!

Below are some articles by Stock Street that can help you with your extra $50 per week endeavor:

Cut your expenses

Another way to paydown your student loans quicker involves cutting your expenses.  By cutting expenses you will have extra income to add to your monthly debt payment.

For example, Savvy can save people up to $300 annually negotiating your cable and internet bill.  If the company is successful and lowers your bill by $300, you can turn around and add that savings to pay down your debt.  If you used the money to pay down your debt you would pay the loan off almost 3 years early! (Assuming the same factors for the 10 year student loan above)

This is the power of cutting expenses and adding your savings to your debt.  Here is an article about Savvy: Want to Cut the Cord? Two Companies Saving You Money on Your Cable and Internet Bills.

Here is an article from Stock Street involving cutting your expenses: 15 Ways to Save Money and Reduce Expenses without Changing your Lifestyle

If you both cut your expenses and make some extra cash per week, you can really make a difference paying off your debt!


When it comes to understanding student loan debt and how to pay it off, there is a lot of information out there. Most information you will come across will be a once-size-fits-all approach.  Before you embark down that one-size-fits-all approach, you should do a SLADE analysis of your student loans so you do not make a terrible mistake and forfeit potential protections available to you.

The analysis will also help you understand different loan payment structures and provide you with valuable information regarding your student loans.

If you decide to refinance, do so after you have a proper analysis done; refinancing can be a great thing as long as you have done your diligence beforehand.

You may feel as if you are in a major financial trouble when it comes to debt.  If you feel this way, you have options.  You should seek the help of a credit counselor and visit the different organizations mentioned in this article.

Finally, if you are able to earn a little extra income each week, as well as reduce your expenses, you may be able to pay your student loans off in half the time or even quicker.  Use the ideas from Stock Street to help you accomplish this, and you may turbocharge your finances sooner than you think is possible.



Disclaimer: These are the ideas and opinions of the author.  The author is not responsible for the actions of those who read the posts on this blog.  Each individual reader has a unique situation and unique needs.  This blog is not intended to solve those unique situations of the readers.  This blog is not liable for decisions made by the readers of this blog.

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