My 40 Year Old Student Loans Are Growing Larger


Dear Steve,

I have student loans from 40 years ago that has gone from 18k to over 70k. I also have 1 loan for my son’s freshman year of college, now about 18k.

I paid some of mine years ago but then went through a time of multiple layoffs and low-paying jobs in the late 90s and 2000s.

Due to the ridiculous interest accrual, I can’t afford the monthly payment they want to give me.

My husband and I make about 120k gross per year, which sounds like a lot, but it’s not that much after you take out the bills.

We don’t drive fancy cars, but each has a car payment of close to $500, plus rent, etc. My low credit score is an issue with trying to consolidate or refinance. Navient holds my loans.

Is there any way to get some of the interest forgiven or a good payment plan? I’ve tried their income-driven payment plan, but it really didn’t make a difference in the monthly payment.



Dear Cathy,

It is not clear if these are private or federal student loans. However, if you were truly in an Income-Driven Repayment plan, then your loans would be federal.

If they were private student loans, my debt coach friend Damon Day helps people resolve these all day long with Navient.

The irony is an Income-Driven Repayment plan that, while it might make the payment go down it makes the balance increase.

Lower payment plans are not designed to get you out of debt but soften the blow.

The fastest way to repay student loans is the standard 10-year repayment plan. That would allow you to pay the least amount of interest.

Other repayment plans deal with the monthly payment but not the overall debt. It’s like a two-year car payment versus a seven-year car payment. The longer the payment plan is, the smaller the monthly payment but, the more you will pay overall.

I applaud your desire to help your son with college financing, but I think you need to take a good close look at what you can honestly afford to take on. If these are Parent PLUS loans, then you alone are on the hook for these debts. While you can consolidate them in the future, you already know the reality; the balances will continue to rise.

Depending on which Income-Driven repayment program you are in, the balance of the student loan due may be forgiven after 20 to 25 years. It depends on when you started making payments that applied to the plan you are in. And then the big gotcha right now is the forgiven student loan debt would be taxable up to the point where you become insolvent.


You are not alone. I’m here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don’t give up.

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