We are both doctors, but we are struggling with $ 472,000 in student loans. Can we get help?

How to get out of student loan debt

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Question: I have $ 237,000 in loans and my wife has $ 235,000 in loans. We do not make payments at this time [thanks to government relief] but when it starts again, we will both owe $ 3.3 thousand / month at an interest rate of 6.7%. We are both doctors who went to public school and just started our first jobs. I am in a private practice and my wife works for a non-profit organization. If she keeps this job, can she theoretically forgive her loans under the PSLF program? Either refinance her loans or continue to make 120 payments for the option to receive forgiveness? In my case, I refinance my loans at a lower interest rate (readers, you can see the lowest student loan refinancing rates for which you can qualify here) or hold loans with the government in the hope of partial or full forgiveness? We just started a family and bought a house. The income after taxes will hardly be enough to pay off the loans and mortgages and child care. What do we have to do?

Answer: Let’s look at your loans first. You may want to consider refinancing if the interest rate is attractive, says certified financial planner Matthew Jenkins. (Readers, you can see the lowest student loan refinancing rates for which you can qualify here). But proceed with caution. “Unless you plan to use an income-based repayment plan, then a lower interest rate on a private loan could help. “As you mentioned, it is possible for the US government to forgive part of the federal loans, but it is not very likely,” said Jenkins. Note, however, that refinancing “is not always the best option if you have federal student loans, as you will give up all the protections and opportunities for forgiveness, but refinancing could help you pay off your debt faster and save money.” “with a lower interest rate,” he says. Anna Helhoski, student loan specialist at NerdWallet.

Do you have a question about getting out of a student loan or other debt? Email chill@marketwatch.com.

Now, let’s deal with your wife’s loans. First, reach the bottom Eligibility for PSLF forgiveness by visiting Student Aid or calling 1-800-433-3243 – and, says Jenkins, if your spouse is eligible for PSLF forgiveness, do not refinance her loans. “The success rate of PSLF applicants has increased in recent months and there is hope that it could continue to improve in the future,” says Jenkins.

If your spouse is available for PSLF, follow the rules of the program to maintain it. Borrowers working for a public service or nonprofit employer should stay on the path to forgiveness by regularly certifying employment, Helhoski says. “This means, the annual submission of the PSLF application and the employment certification form. You [typically] “He has to have a federal direct loan and enroll in an income-based repayment program to qualify,” says Helhoski. However, there is currently a waiver available until the end of October, which would count payments that were not previously eligible. “You need to submit a PSLF form to ensure that any previous ineligible payments are now being counted. It takes payments of 10 years while you work with a public service employer to get your student loan written off,” says Helhoski.

You should also look at your spending and see where you can make cuts. “Amid high levels of debt and, I guess, zero retirement savings, you are essentially mortgaging your future, a recipe for watchful nights and marital strife,” says Lisa Weil, Clarity Northwest’s principal and founding member. That said, you can reduce this weight. Consider contributing to your retirement accounts, especially if your companies match your contributions. Using an automated savings feature can help you deposit money directly from your salary into a separate savings account. Setting small recurring transfers from your checks to your savings can also help you save small amounts that will accumulate over time.

* The question has been edited for the sake of brevity and clarity.

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