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If you are approaching retirement and bringing your student loan debt along with you, you are probably part of a “club” no one wants to belong to. The Federal Reserve reported in 2018 Americans over the age of 50 owed more than $260 billion in student debt, up from $36 billion in 2004. As for those over 60, 2.8 million people in the U.S. are still carrying student loan debt. If student loans are still hanging over your head, read on.

Many older Americans who find themselves in this predicament got there by going back to school in mid-life, or by financing their children’s college education with loans. Others are simply still paying off the loans they incurred for their own education many years ago. Unfortunately, 37 percent of Americans who are in default of these loans are over the age of 65.

If there is any good news in this dilemma it is mostly for those who took out Federal student loans. If you are among this group, check out the U.S. Department of Education website, where you can learn about income-driven student loan forgiveness. An income-driven repayment plan sets your monthly student loan payment at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and family size. There are several ways to do this, each explained on the website. These repayment plans generally calculate payments based on 10 to 20 percent of your discretionary income.

If you have multiple student loans outstanding, you may be able to consolidate them into one loan. Check out the Federal Student Aid office of the Department of Education for consolidation information.

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate multiple federal education loans into one loan at no cost to you. You can set this up all online in about 30 minutes, and then have just one monthly payment instead of multiple payments.

Another option for those with student loan debt is refinancing. The interest rates for refinancing student loans is generally below two percent. Visit the Make Lemonadesite to use a handy student loan refinancing calculator. Generally, refinancing will offer a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments. Consolidation and refinancing may painlessly relieve your financial burden.

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