Retiring With Student Loan Debt

By Susan Guillory · April 24, 2024 · 6 minute read

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Retiring With Student Loan Debt

Congratulations on being ready to retire! You’ve spent a lifetime working hard, and it’s just about time to sit back and relax.

Before you do, though, you’ll want to make sure you can afford to retire. If you have outstanding debts, these could put a damper on your plans.

If you’re still paying your student loans, you probably are wondering: do you have to pay student loans after retirement? And if so, how does that debt negatively impact your plans to retire?

Keep reading to learn more on paying back student loans in retirement, including options for forgiveness and how to save money on your loans.

Paying Back Student Loans After Retirement

You’ve been saving for retirement for years, and you’re ready to reap the rewards…except you’ve got student loan debt hanging over your head.

Student loans, just like any kind of debt, are financial obligations you must take care of. If not, you risk negative marks on your credit report.

If you’re planning to retire soon, make sure to factor that monthly student loan payment into your budget, as you will still be obligated to make your payments in retirement.

Pros of Paying Back Student Loans After Retirement

The first benefit to paying off student loans after retirement is keeping your credit report squeaky clean. When you pay your loan each month, the positive behavior of an on-time payment and a reduction in your debt is reflected on your credit report. This could help your score rise, which could help you qualify for better interest rates on mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards.

Also, you want to pay off your student loans as quickly as possible to minimize the interest you pay. The sooner you pay off the loan, the less interest you’ll pay overall.

And of course, clearing any debt you have will leave you with more disposable income. Take a cruise with a loved one, pay off your house, or do anything else you’ve always dreamed of doing in retirement!

Cons of Paying Back Student Loans After Retirement

Things get tricky when it comes to student loans and retirement. Because you now have a limited income, it may be challenging to make those monthly payments or to pay off the loan in its entirety.

However, just like the benefit to paying back your loan was positive marks on your credit report, skipping payments or making late payments could have a negative impact on your credit.

And making those payments to your student loan will limit what you can afford to spend your money on. You may have to defer some of your retirement plans until your student loans are paid off.

At What Age Can You Stop Paying Student Loans?

Unfortunately, there is no age when you can stop paying your student loans. Retirement has no impact on the requirement for you to pay off your student loan debts, and your monthly payment will continue to be due each month until the loan is paid off.

Student Loan Forgiveness Options

There are several student loan forgiveness programs offered by the U.S. Department of Education. One is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which forgives student loans for professionals who work in public services (teachers, government employees, and nonprofits, for example). There are also income-driven repayment (IDR) plans that also may qualify for loan forgiveness.

Check with your student loan account holder to see if you qualify for any loan forgiveness options.

Options for Paying Off Student Loans During Retirement

When it comes to student loans and retirement, the sooner you pay off your loan, the sooner you can enjoy retirement. It’s important to get a plan for how you’ll pay off your student loan when preparing for retirement.
Start with a student loan calculator so you know how much you owe and how much you’ll pay in interest over time. Then, explore the following options.

Lump Sum

If you can afford to do so, pay off your loan all at once. You’ll cut out the interest you would have paid if you paid it out over time, and you’ll immediately have access to more monthly disposable income since it won’t be going toward a monthly loan payment.

Consolidate Your Loans

If you have multiple student loans from different providers, consider student loan consolidation. With this option, you combine multiple federal student loans into one new loan with one new monthly payment. The interest rate is typically the average of the interest rates on the loans you’re consolidating. While consolidating student loans streamlines your monthly payments, it typically won’t save you money overall.

Note: You can only consolidate federal student loans that qualify. You aren’t able to consolidate private student loans.

Refinance Student Loans

If you have private student loans, or a combination of federal and private loans, you might want to consider refinancing your student loans. This involves taking out a new loan you can then use to pay off your outstanding student loans. Ideally, you’ll receive a lower interest rate or shorten your loan term.

Keep in mind, though, that if you refinance federal loans, you lose eligibility for federal benefits, such as income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness.

Student Loan Refinancing Tips from SoFi

If you go the refinancing route, be sure to shop around for the best rate. The better your credit, the lower the interest you may qualify for. But not all lenders are the same — some charge origination fees and other fees that can add up. So it’s worth a little effort to find the best lender for you.

Even though your finances may be limited in retirement, it’s important to prioritize your student loan debt. This may mean cutting out luxuries for a while until the debt is paid off.

And if you haven’t yet retired, consider continuing to work a little longer so you have the means to pay off your student loans before retiring. It may seem like a major sacrifice to work another year, but you’ll be glad you did when you’ve completely wiped out your student loan debt!

Take control of your student loans.
Ditch student loan debt for good.

The Takeaway

Student loans and retirement may not go hand-in-hand, but you’re far from alone if you’re still struggling with your debt when you’re ready to retire. The important thing is to get a plan for paying it off, either all at once or over the shortest period possible.

One way to reduce your student loan debt is to refinance your student loans. By refinancing, you may be able to secure a lower interest rate or shorter loan term, enabling you to pay off your debt faster.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


Do you have to pay back student loans when you retire?

Yes, you are still responsible for paying back student loans, even in retirement.

How many years do you have to pay student loans?

There is no limit to how long you have to pay off student loans, but be aware that the longer it takes you, the more you will pay in interest.

Does your student loan get written off at 50?

No, your student loans do not get written off or canceled at any age.

Photo credit: iStock/maruco

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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