We owe $ 200,000 in student loans. How to get rid of this debt?

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Q. My husband and I have racked up a lot of debt over the past 10 years: college loans ($ 200,000), home equity line of credit ($ 50,000) and we have some upcoming dental expenses ($ 50,000). $). We particularly dislike the idea of ​​outstanding university loans and would like to get rid of this debt. What do you recommend?

– In trouble

A. Of course, it’s a lot of debt.

Student loans have become a huge problem for so many people.

Unfortunately, getting student loan discharge in bankruptcy is very difficult, said Karra Kingston, a bankruptcy lawyer in Union City.

But it’s not impossible, she said.

“Debtors need to show that they are in undue hardship and can never afford to pay off their student loans,” she said. “In this test, it is very difficult to show that individuals cannot repay their student loans. “

To tackle student debt, the first thing individuals need to consider is whether their student loan is private or federal, she said.

“People on federal student loans can contact their service agent to see if they qualify for some kind of help,” Kingston said. “Many student loan programs offer income-tested repayment options that allow borrowers to repay a certain amount based on their income. “

There are also other programs that can help people with student loans, but it’s best to discuss the options with your loan officer, she said.

“Other plans allow individuals to pay off their loans according to civil service and different areas of work,” she said. “Individuals can review their options here to see if they qualify for loan forgiveness options. “

If none of those options work, you may be able to consolidate all of your federal loans into one student loan or take out a forbearance plan, she said.

Just keep in mind that you may lose some options like income based repayment plans if you consolidate so make sure you understand all the ramifications of such a move.

Private student loans are a bit more difficult to manage, Kingston said.

“Unfortunately, private student loans don’t always have as good options as federal student loans,” she said. “Some options for people with private student loans are to refinance their loan at a lower interest rate or try to negotiate a settlement with them. “

Sometimes, if you can afford a lump sum settlement, private student loan lenders will work with you, she said.

As for your other debts, you should work with a nonprofit credit counselor.

Email your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes on Bamboo column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Register for NJMoneyHelp.com‘s weekly electronic newsletter.

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