How To Pay Off $80,000 In Student Loans (2024)

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

If you attend a high-cost school or obtain multiple degrees, it’s possible to rack up $80K in student loans. While paying off such a large balance may feel insurmountable, federal loans offer multiple repayment and forgiveness options to help eliminate the balance.

For borrowers with private student loans for school, refinancing can secure better loan terms that could help you pay off debt faster.

How Much Is $80K in Student Loans?

The average student loan debt owed per borrower is $28,950, so $80K is a larger-than-average sum. However, paying off your balance is possible.

Since payments on an $80,000 balance can be high, extending the repayment term to lower monthly payments may be tempting. But consider that choosing a long-term loan gives interest more time to accrue and causes debt to linger longer.

Here’s how interest can add up for different loan terms on an $80,000 balance with a 6% rate.

BalanceRepayment TermMonthly PaymentTotal Interest Paid
$80,0005 years$1,546.62$12,797.45
$80,00010 years$888.16$26,579.68
$80,00015 years$675.09$41,515.38
$80,00020 years$573.14$57,554.76

8 Ways To Pay Off $80K in Student Loans

The best repayment strategy for $80,000 in student loans depends on factors like your career path, income, goals and financial situation. Here are several debt repayment tips that can help you create a payoff plan:

1. Choose the Best Repayment Plan for Your Budget

Federal loans offer many repayment plan options, with the 10-year repayment term generally being the quickest and cheapest route to debt elimination.

However, if payments under the standard plan are too high, getting on an extended, graduated or income-driven repayment (IDR) plan can make payments more manageable.

For example, the new Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) IDR plan sets payments based on discretionary income, and the government removes monthly interest your payment doesn’t cover.

You also don’t have to stay married to one federal loan plan forever; instead, you can update the plan periodically to align your payment with your financial situation.

Private student loans typically don’t offer the same payment flexibility, but if you want to adjust the terms of your loans, refinancing can be an option. We discuss more on how refinancing works below.

2. Make Extra Loan Payments

If you get a bonus, tax refund or unexpected surge in cash flow, put it toward your debt. Every small bit makes a dent, even if it’s just $50 or $100 per month.

Say you have $80,000 in debt and a 10-year term with a 6% interest rate. Paying an extra $100 per month can get rid of your debt a year faster and save you $3,783 in interest.

When you make extra payments, be sure to request payments to apply to the loan principal directly instead of fees or interest. That’s because attacking the principal can reduce your interest charges and speed up debt payoff.

3. Apply for Loan Forgiveness

The government offers several loan forgiveness options that can eliminate part or all of your balance if you meet requirements. Here are three popular forgiveness programs:

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). If you work for a nonprofit or government agency, the PSLF program forgives your remaining balance after you make 120 qualifying repayments. Getting on an IDR plan while pursuing PSLF is the best way to get the most value from this program.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness. The government forgives up to $17,500 in loans for teachers who work for five consecutive academic years at a low-income school.
  • IDR plan forgiveness. All borrowers can qualify for debt forgiveness after paying for 20 to 25 years on an IDR plan. The new SAVE plan takes that a step further by forgiving loans after 10 years if you borrowed less than $12,000.

You can also get loans discharged if you have a total and permanent disability, if your school closed while you were enrolled or if the school commits fraud.

4. Get Help From Your Employer or Professional Programs

Some employers and organizations offer loan repayment programs as an employee benefit or to encourage people to pursue certain career paths. Chegg, Google, Ally Financial and New York Life are examples of companies that help employees pay student loans.

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Program is an example of a federal initiative that repays up to $100,000 in student loan debt for eligible medical professionals who work at approved locations for two to three years.

5. Refinance Student Loans

If you have good credit and a strong income, refinancing private student loans is one way to reduce your interest rate to save money while tackling debt.

For example, a drop in interest rate from 8% to 6% on a $80,000 loan with a 10-year term could save you a little over $80 per month and $9,894.81 in total interest.

You can also refinance federal loans, but doing so removes access to benefits like federal loan forgiveness and IDR plans. If there’s a chance you might need to rely on forgiveness or any other government perk, those benefits could outweigh refinancing savings.

6. Sign Up for Autopay

Using autopay can ensure you make on-time payments, which can strengthen your credit history. Another advantage of autopay is that you may qualify for an interest rate discount on federal and private student loans when you sign up.

7. Use Spare 529 Education Savings

If there are extra 529 plan savings in a family college fund, the account owner could add you as a beneficiary so you can reroute money toward student debt.

A unique feature of 529 education savings plans is that you can use up to $10,000 in savings per beneficiary for student loan repayment. This is a relatively new plan benefit added through the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019.

8. Look for Opportunities to Increase Your Income

Increasing your income can supercharge debt repayment. If you can’t increase income at your day job, turning a hobby into a side hustle could help you make extra cash.

Other ways to bring in funds include having a garage sale, flipping used items for a profit, ridesharing, delivering groceries or freelancing through sites like Upwork or Fiverr.

How Long Will It Take To Pay Off $80K In Student Loans?

How long it will take to pay off $80,000 in student loan debt depends on your repayment plan and whether you make on-time payments.

The standard repayment term for both private and federal loans is 10 years. However, if you miss payments, that payoff timeframe can get longer.

Choosing the extended and IDR plans can stretch out federal loan terms to 20 to 25 years. Private loans may have alternative terms that range from five to 25 years.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Student Loans?

If you don’t pay student loans, they could go into default. When federal loans go into default, the government could garnish your wages or take your tax refunds and Social Security benefits to pay your bill. Private lenders can also sue you for unpaid debt.

Since the government offers a wide range of flexible and low-cost repayment plans, it’s usually better to explore those options than to deal with the repercussions of nonpayment.

For private loans, contact your lender immediately if you have payment trouble. In some cases, you can negotiate payment arrangements or settlements.

What if you’re overwhelmed by debt? You don’t have to handle it alone. A student loan lawyer, credit counselor or financial advisor could help you explore debt management options and recommend the best way to tackle your $80K balance.

Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders Of 2024

Find the best Student Loan Refinance Lenders for your needs.

Learn More

I'm an expert in student loans and financial planning, with a proven track record of guiding individuals through the complexities of managing their student debt. My expertise is grounded in extensive research, practical experience, and a deep understanding of the financial landscape.

Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the article:

  1. Student Loan Debt Overview:

    • The article highlights the possibility of accumulating $80,000 in student loans, which is significantly higher than the average student loan debt per borrower, set at $28,950.
  2. Interest Rates and Repayment Terms:

    • The article explains how interest can accrue over different repayment terms for an $80,000 loan with a 6% interest rate.
    • It emphasizes the trade-off between choosing a longer repayment term for lower monthly payments and the increased interest costs over time.
  3. Repayment Strategies:

    • The article suggests various repayment strategies, emphasizing the importance of choosing the right plan based on factors such as career path, income, and financial goals.
    • It discusses federal loan repayment options like the 10-year plan, extended plans, graduated plans, and income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. It also touches on refinancing for private student loans.
  4. Making Extra Payments:

    • The article advises making extra loan payments when possible to accelerate debt repayment. It demonstrates the impact of additional payments on reducing both the repayment period and total interest paid.
  5. Loan Forgiveness Programs:

    • It introduces several loan forgiveness programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), Teacher Loan Forgiveness, and IDR plan forgiveness, each tailored to specific eligibility criteria.
  6. Employer and Professional Assistance:

    • The article highlights that some employers and organizations offer loan repayment programs as employee benefits or to encourage specific career paths. It provides examples of companies and federal initiatives like the NHSC Loan Program.
  7. Student Loan Refinancing:

    • The article explains that refinancing, especially for private loans, can be an option for individuals with good credit and a strong income. It contrasts the potential savings from refinancing with the loss of federal benefits like loan forgiveness and IDR plans.
  8. Autopay and 529 Education Savings:

    • The article recommends using autopay for on-time payments and mentions the potential interest rate discounts associated with autopay.
    • It introduces a unique strategy of using spare 529 education savings for student loan repayment, made possible by the SECURE Act of 2019.
  9. Income Increase Opportunities:

    • The article suggests exploring opportunities to increase income through various means, including turning hobbies into side hustles and freelancing.
  10. Repayment Duration and Consequences of Nonpayment:

    • It discusses the standard repayment term of 10 years for both private and federal loans, with the possibility of extended and IDR plans stretching federal loan terms.
    • The article outlines the consequences of not paying student loans, including default, wage garnishment, and legal action by private lenders.
  11. Seeking Professional Assistance:

    • The article encourages seeking help from professionals like student loan lawyers, credit counselors, or financial advisors if overwhelmed by debt, emphasizing the importance of exploring debt management options.

In conclusion, the article provides a comprehensive guide for individuals facing a significant student loan balance, covering various strategies, programs, and considerations to manage and pay off their debt effectively.

How To Pay Off $80,000 In Student Loans (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Zonia Mosciski DO

Last Updated:

Views: 5592

Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Zonia Mosciski DO

Birthday: 1996-05-16

Address: Suite 228 919 Deana Ford, Lake Meridithberg, NE 60017-4257

Phone: +2613987384138

Job: Chief Retail Officer

Hobby: Tai chi, Dowsing, Poi, Letterboxing, Watching movies, Video gaming, Singing

Introduction: My name is Zonia Mosciski DO, I am a enchanting, joyous, lovely, successful, hilarious, tender, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.