First, it was Somer Givens’ chance to rejoice. She was shocked, sent out a flurry of texts to friends and family. She even broke out in song.
It was Trent Givens’ turn about a month later. He woke up Somer, his sleeping wife, and woke his dad too with an exuberant call.
Each time, it was one number sparking the joy: Zero. As in, a $0 balance on their federal student loans.
Despite the tough odds at loan forgiveness, the government program wiped away the Auburn, Ala. couple’s remaining balance on their student loans over the summer. Officials forgave Somer’s $76,000 balance in July and Trent’s approximate $85,000 balance in August.
A temporary offshoot of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program might have suddenly plucked away $161,000 debt, but it felt like a lot more, said Somer, 41, a research analyst in the student-affairs department at Auburn University.
“It was like a five-ton elephant being lifted off your shoulders,” she told MarketWatch. The experience wasn’t only like seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel, but I survived the tunnel.” She paid off more than $71,000 in loans and principal
The forgiveness program is open to teachers, nurses and others working the in public sector who make 10 years of qualified payments, but it’s so far approved just 1% of applications. The slim approval rate has sparked criticism and lawsuits against the federal government and loan servicers.
“I knew how much of a long shot it was to have my loans forgiven,” said Trent, 39, a high-school history teacher and softball coach in the Auburn City school system. “I felt very blessed, very excited to say I was one the few.” He paid off more than $31,000 in interest and principal.
Studentloanplanner.com, a financial coaching company that provides information on ways to tackle student loan debt, first reported on the Givens’ path to loan forgiveness.
At first, they didn’t talk too much about how to make the finances work. “I was thinking we were young and in love. Love would cover finances for us,” Somer said.
They realized that starry-eyed strategy wouldn’t work after taking a budgeting course. “That got us thinking how we needed to manage a budget,” Trent said.
They clipped coupons and for a time, Trent drove around a handed-down 1996 Ford F, +1.52% Crown Victoria sedan for about eight years. But loan bills still stretched thin the parents of three.
At one point, the Givens’ combined student-loan bill was over $1,000 a month, which exceeded the roughly $890 mortgage payment for a three-bedroom house in Troy, Ala.
For the full article click here: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-couples-161000-in-student-loan-debt-was-forgiven-heres-how-they-did-it-2019-11-04