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Posts tagged with: Income Based Repayment

Increasing Student Loan Payments

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Nothing like being kicked when you’re down, right?

Well, I’ve had a good run. After 3 years of Income Based Repayment where our student loan payments were only a couple hundred a month (it varied, but was never over $300/month in total), I knew there would be some changes in store after updating our income info using last year’s tax information (this update is required annually). What I did not know or expect, was that the change would be SOOOOOO extreme.

Overnight, we went from a minimum payment of $300….to a minimum payment of over $1,000. THAT’S MORE THAN OUR MORTGAGE!!!! My take-home pay is under $5,000/month, so we’re talking over 20% of our income!!! AHHH!!!!!

After my update, I was notified that we no longer qualified for IBR based on last year’s income. Unfortunately, this occurred during summer when all our finances just went straight to hell so I didn’t give it much thought like I should have.  No thought, that is, until the payment was auto-drafted and my account ended up being overdrawn.

To say I “freaked out” would be an understatement. It was my own fault for not paying closer attention, but I felt totally blind-sighted!

So I did something that maybe (probably?) messes up my credit. But I felt I had no option. I called and asked for my student loans to go into forbearance status for a few months. It was approved the same day. I’ve continued making smaller-sized payments (in the $200-$300 range), but no payment is actually due until January. I’m trying to reapply for IBR with our current income (since the update was based on our tax information from last year, it showed a much higher salary than what we have this year given that hubs no longer works and I dumped my part-time job, too).

Re-doing our current income paperwork is a whole process, as you can imagine.  I haven’t completed it yet but my hope is that this voluntary forbearance gives us the time to get all the paperwork submitted and processed and – fingers crossed – maybe we can get approved for a more reasonable-sized payment. It will still likely be larger than in the past. But we just cannot afford $1,000/month right now as a minimum payment. We’d be much more comfortable in the $300-ish range. I did talk to a representative who said there are other programs available, too (e.g., I was told we could apply for the “standard extended payment”). I’d love to get back on IBR if we can qualify but, if not, I’m glad other options exist. The one problem is the TIME it takes for all that stuff to be processed. I felt backed into a corner with the forbearance because I needed a lower payment NOW and didn’t have time to wait a month (or however long) for a new application to be processed and approved (or potentially rejected).

So that’s where we’re at with my student loans. Another piece of the messy financial puzzle.


Increasing Minimum Payments

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My student loans are on income-based repayment (just entering my 3rd year; the final year where my subsidized loans are still eligible for interest forgiveness).

One of the stipulations of IBR is that I have to re-apply every year. The re-application deadline for me falls in August. Its probably not surprising that, due to my increased income, my minimum payments are going up.

At first when I saw the email which notified me of the increasing minimum payments, I was bummed. “Dang it, that sucks” I thought.

But then it hit me – I’m paying like 10x the minimum payments right now (this is definitely hyperbole, but I still pay WAY over my minimums). So the tiny increase in minimum payments (I think it increased about $40/month) does not even come close to affecting me. After the realization, I laughed a little to myself.

Obviously no one likes when minimum payments increase. Thats what sucks so bad about adjustable rate mortgages! But at this stage in our debt payoff game, we’re focusing on the student loan payments. If we were still paying minimums on them in order to put more money toward a different loan, then this change might affect us. But given the massive sized student loan payments that we make, it literally doesn’t make an iota of difference to me if the payments increased $5 or $50. Who cares?! I pay way over the minimum anyway. I’m ready for them to be GONE!!!

Also, as just a random tidbit, when we first met with our mortgage broker with all our documents, he made a comment along the lines of “wow, I’ve never seen anyone with this much student loan debt!” I kind of chuckled (ummm…have you never done a mortgage for a doctor before??).  But not just because I was genuinely surprised by his inexperience with large student loan debts….I also chuckled because had I visited him 2 years ago, we would have been carting around an additional $50,000+ of miscellaneous debts, too! We’re in much better shape now than we were then! But, yes. I have a disgusting amount of student loan debt. Can’t wait to kick it all to the curb!!!

Just for fun – what are your minimum payments on your student loan debt? My Navient loan minimum payments are about $600/month. A ton of money, for sure. But when I’m paying thousands per month on the loans, a $40 increase doesn’t make a big difference.

 


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