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Help on consolidating student loans

She thought she wanted to be a nurse but quickly discovered science wasn’t her strong suit.

Teachers often qualify for multiple loan-forgiveness programs.

The best known are the federal government’s 10-year Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, designed for any public sector employee, and the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, which forgives up to $17,500 after five consecutive years of teaching in schools that serve low-income students.

(For Talbert, there’s little downside to consolidating her loans, but that’s not always the case.

Read more about that here.) “You don’t want to be surprised years later if you switch jobs and were planning to have your loans forgiven…

only to find out that you don’t qualify,” Ferastoaru says.

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Talbert has 17 individual loans, and only some of them automatically qualify for the income-driven plans that lead to loan forgiveness.So her first step is to fill out a form to consolidate all her federal loans into one new loan under the Direct Loan program.

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Above: Mattie Talbert (left) and her mother pose for a photo last May before Talbert graduated from the University of South Carolina.Jessica Ferastoaru, a student loan counselor with Take Charge America, recommends Talbert and other potential applicants fill out the form every year, or at a minimum, any time they change jobs.“You don’t want to be surprised years later if you switch jobs and were planning to have your loans forgiven…That’s because her spouse’s income won’t affect her loan payments under PAYE as long as the two of them file separate tax forms.If she doesn’t qualify for the Pay As You Earn plan, Talbert should enroll in the newer Revised Pay As Your Earn (REPAYE).She spent a year taking classes at a community college before transferring to the University of South Carolina-Columbia.