Renee - here's an option re: your student loans IF they are subsidized loans (i.e. gov't paid interest while you were in school). You can get deferrals instead of forebearances by registering for 2 community college classes - it doesn't matter that you have a PhD, or what grades you receive in those classes. My loan balance is less than yours, and still itnerest only payments for 1 month was more than a semester's tuition for 2 classes.However, if you had both subsidized and unsubsidized loans and consolidated them together unfortunately they all become unsubsidized. But I suppose you could decide to become a lifelong student....FWIW most banks will ignore your student loans if they are in deferral when you are seeking a mortgage.Also, there are other ways to get your student loans paid back. Many federal agencies were just given permission/direction to use student loan paybacks to recruit -and being in the IT field I bet that the agencies would use that incentive for positions you'd be seeking. Check www.washingtonpost.com for info on this...they have a federal workforce column and chats that have discussed the current happenings - doesn't matter where you live. Private companies also offer loan payback for their employees - check the library or the web for these. I know you don't want to teach but Teach for America offers partial loan payback in exchange for teaching for 2 years....but the salaries are decent - can be not too much less than you're making now. Finally, go to www.salliemae.com and enter their contest for loan payback up to $100,000. (it's a long shot, but hey it can't hurt!)I know that many people will tell you to cut out the lunches....but you need to determine how important they are to keeping yourself in the loop and part of the team. For many people lunches out are pure luxury items, but the way you describe it, it sounds as if cutting them out could seriously harm your upward mobility (i.e. larger salaried positions) and I would think seriously before doing so.Good luck....but your aren't alone, I'm equally daunted by amount of student loans I have to payback (and I only have a MA!)P.S. I think you need to find someone or some good program for running the number re: your student loans vs. your 401K. One has compounding interest working for you and one has compounding interest working against you. I know that my student loans compound EVERY DAY - meaning that today I pay interest on yesterday's balance PLUS yesterday's interest. Conventional wisdom has you keeping your 401K contributions sacred, but (and I don't meant to depress you) it sounds like those loan payments are still going to be around when you retire - it may be that the amount of itnerest saved by putting $140/mth toward principal reduction exceeds its expected compouding w/in the 401k fund. You'd have to factor in tax deducutability...and whether your company offers a match.
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