Maybe I Should Stop Paying My Federal Student Loans

Question:

Dear Steve,

I have been making my student loan (IBR) payments during the forbearance period believing that I was still employed part-time and not in grave need.

I know the principle has been reduced during this time, but, frankly, my student loan of over $125,000 will be there until I am 90 years old, so I do not have plans to repay it entirely.

I would like to have a break now and wonder if I can stop making payments on my federal loan until forbearance ends.

Jane

Answer:

Dear Jane,

Looking at the situation from reality and a mathematical approach, your idea is not crazy.

While all of the payments you’ve been making are going towards reducing your balance during this Covid student loan payment holiday, it sounds as if it will never pay off the loans.

If you are comfortable with annually recertifying your IBR payments and making just those, that is one approach.

You appear to understand that approach will not retire your debt until you’ve made decades of payments.

But if the issue is you cannot continue to make those payments or you feel the payments will never eliminate the debt then falling back to a payment holiday now and IBR only payments, when required, is a valid approach.

The downside of this is your balance will start to grow with IBR-only payments after the current suspension of federal student loan payments ends.

All Income-Driven Repayment programs are both a blessing and a curse. Read Why Income Based Student Loan Payments Can Be a Terrible Trap.

In the face of hopeless debt then a What The F approach is not nuts. It is pragmatic.

If you’d like to talk through your plan before you take this action, I would suggest getting in touch with my debt coach friend Damon Day. He is very talented and can sense check your specific situation.

Sincerly,

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.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach