Solutions for Seniors With Student-Loan Problems

An Expert’s advice
By Steve Hirsch July 12, 2019

grad hat with debt

Saratoga Racetrack gives away free stuff during the summer. Free coolers and hats. Saratoga’s famous for it. They do it to increase attendance, and it works, because people love free stuff. They’re called race-giveaways. This shouldn’t be confused with the race-giveaway going on between today’s Dem presidential candidates. Free healthcare. Free college tuition. Free daycare. Oh, and free healthcare to illegal aliens. In other words, free everything for everyone.

I call it the Dem Free-For-All Race. Cool name, huh?

Their promise to forgive all student-debt? As conservative advocates for senior citizens, ASA is against. I’ll talk about why in next week’s article, but first, we’ve got a lot of senior citizen members who are on the hook for student loans, so I want to address student-debt as a personal issue for seniors.

I spoke with Betsy Mayotte, head of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors:

Betsy, are you seeing a lot of senior citizens across the country having trouble dealing with student loans?

Yes, and I’m so glad you’re reaching out to me about this. Most Americans think student-debt is a young-people problem. But it’s actually effecting older people as well. Many incurred student debt for their own tuitions when they were younger, and others guaranteed loans for their children or grandchildren. As a matter of fact, student-loan debt is growing faster for ages 60 to 69 than for any other age group, about 70% over the last five years. Some of them are having a hard time making ends meet. In cases where the loans were federally guaranteed, the government sometimes garnishes their social security checks to pay down the student debt.

We’re seeing that happen to a lot of our members. For a senior who's in a fix, what are the chances there’s a solution?

Chances are 99.9% there’s a solution. A lot of times, all you need to do is reach out to the lender. But the worst mistake you can make it to not do anything. If you feel too overwhelmed to handle it all by yourself, you should contact me or an organization like mine.

It seems like there’s so many options. I’ve read about a program called Pay As You Earn, another one called Revised Pay As You Earn, and then there’s one called Income Based Repayment, also Graduated Payment Plans, and Extended Repayment Plans. PAYE, REPAYE, IBR, ERP, so many acronyms, it’s overwhelming. How does a person decide which solution is best?

social security office

It depends on the senior citizen’s personal financial situation, his or her objectives, and what kind of loan they have. Your members can learn a lot surfing our website, TISLA. We list a lot of information under Topics and Resources.

Join ASA. We’re the conservative alternative to AARP. It’s time to Drain the Swamp.

So seniors, if they’re in a bind, can get their loans restructured?

Yes, they can either get loans rehabbed or consolidated. Rehabbed is usually better, for a number of reasons, including the effect on your credit report, but that doesn’t always matter to seniors. That’s because many don’t intend on any more major purchases during their lifetimes. Also, you can get part, sometimes even all, of your debt forgiven, depending on your income situation.

But I read that in the case of forgiveness, the amount forgiven is recognized by the IRS as income in one lump sum. Can that be a problem?

Well, look at it this way. The bottom tax brackets are 10% and 12%, so even if you get taxed 12% for getting $100,000 forgiven, that means you now owe the government $12,000 instead of $100,000. Then you get terms for paying back the $12,000.

student debt chart image

Ahh, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I’d rather work with the government to get terms on paying back $12,000 instead of $100,000. It’s important to make the right decisions.

Exactly, and like you said, there are a lot of options to consider. Your members can email me at .

Did you say free? I like free.

Yes, TISLA is a non-profit, and we’re here to help for free. There are consultants out there who charge hundreds and even thousands of dollars to give you advice that you can get for free. I regularly come across people who were almost done paying off their loans, but some huckster tricked them into paying thousands for advice that would’ve been better spent just paying down the loan.

Yeah, I get auto-called on my mobile phone almost every day by outfits trying to sell me some kind of remedy to student loans that I don’t even have.

It’s a shame. As soon as they catch these con-men, another bunch of them pop up and do the same thing.

So, a little advice to our ASA members and anyone else who reads this article. Hang up on those auto-callers. You don’t need to pay for advice on solving your student debt problem. Email . Tell her about your situation. And read about it on her website, TISLA. Thanks, Betsy, for all the great advice.

You’re welcome. TISLA is here to help.

Like Betsy says, the choices can be overwhelming. I’m surprised that none of the Dem candidates have suggested having the government offer loans so that you could go to a special school where you learn about how to become an expert at redoing your loans. Just kidding. And anyway, you don’t need to become an expert. If you need help, you can contact Betsy at

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Steve Hirsch

Steve Hirsch
I'm a businessman who is fast approaching retirement age.