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Hey Papercomet,

Congrats on the degree and the family, you are doing well. Being in a similar situation, I will offer you an opinion. Just remember that it is only an opinion.

Depending on the interest rate that you can lock in and the prospect of future income, you should definitely try to pay the loans down as quickly as possible. With that in mind, the fact that you are the sole bread-winner for the family begs the point that you really need to have the emergency fund available, because you will utilize it with 3 non-wage earners depending on you.

If you like, there are several calculators available on the Fool homepage that will help you figure out how much you should save for emergencies and how much your loan will cost you in interest over different time periods. A 30 year loan will cost usually around 2x the original amount ($170K). My current plan is to save the maximum matched amount in the employee savings account (403b or 401k depending) and then allocate any other cash flow to a 50% split between emergency fund and loan repayment. After hitting the amount that I want in the emergency fund, the plan is either 75% loan repayment and 25% future purchase fund or 100% loan repayment.

Some other general ideas are do you own a home with any equity, are you planning to buy a home, and what do you plan to save for your children's college? You will likely benefit from the tax deductions of student loan interest, but I do not. Depending on you car loan rates, you may look into retiring those first with any excess funds. It is a tough row to hoe, but good luck and remember what your priorities are.

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