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How to overcome the student loan fear factor (from someone who’s been there)

College • October 5, 2018 • Reyna Gobel


What you’ll learn

  • How to overcome fear of student loan debt
  • What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness


My mission as a student loan expert for the last decade has been to help scared borrowers take control of their student loan debt.

I can relate. Personally, I had one of my student loans default back in 2000. I didn’t find out until four years later when I wanted to return to school. It was one out of 16 loans that I simply forgot to consolidate with the others. It was easy to fix. After several months of on-time payments, the default was even removed from my credit report. It felt so good.

Here’s how you can take control of student loan debt and not let it rule your life:

Forgive yourself for needing student loans

Especially if you are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t have or paid off his or her student loans, you may feel guilty bringing this obligation on to them. Don’t.

I’ve found that the best financial skill you can bring into a relationship is having a plan for your future. Your degree gave you higher earning potential and a better chance at a job you love. As long as you can show you can handle your payments, you’re not a financial burden to anyone.

Understand your options

Half the problem with not facing your student loan debt is you won’t learn about the best options for repayment. Here are a few that might work for you:

  • Some federal loan borrowers may qualify for a program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness based on their occupation and after ten years of on-time payments under specific plans. People who work for government organizations and certain non-profits could get some of their eligible federal student loan debt forgiven.
  • Income-driven repayment plans can lead to lower monthly payments.
  • Several options provide for subsidized federal student loans to get interest paid in times of economic hardship. You may also have a workplace program for student loan repayment, or you may qualify to refinance private student loan debt at a lower rate.

However, you wouldn't know about any of these options that could make your life easier if you avoid thinking about your student loan debt.

Learn from others

When you have a lot of student loan debt, you may be embarrassed. However, once you’ve researched your options, you’ll feel better talking to friends and family about it.

Whether you’re comparing salary negotiation techniques, student loan repayment options, tips for paying off student loans faster, or credit repair discoveries, there is so much financial knowledge your friends and family can share with you and that you can share with them.

Don’t let debt define you

Student loan debt won’t seem so scary once you decide it’s just a minor part of your life.


Reyna Gobel is a journalist, author, professional speaker, and educator who's been quoted by Money Magazine, Real Simple, and The Washington Post. She’s spoken at hundreds of colleges across the country about student debt—and she’s the author of "CliffsNotes Graduation Debt" and “CliffsNotes Parents’ Guide to Paying for College and Repaying Student Loans.”


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Reyna Gobel was compensated by Sallie Mae for the content in this article. However, all opinions expressed are her own.

Sallie Mae does not provide financial, tax, or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal, or financial advice. Sallie Mae does not make any claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Sallie Mae.