Ameritech Financial
January 2018

Ameritech Financial: Debt from PhD Studies Need Not Burden Borrowers

Even some of the most learned among us — that is, those with PhDs — may need help with their student loans. While many PhDs or former PhD students are able to emerge from their doctorate days debt-free, there are others who are not so lucky. Debt for PhD students is usually necessary if they cannot find funding for tuition or if their cost of living is unaffordable. PhD students might also be carrying student debt from their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Ameritech Financial, a private document preparation company that assists federal student loan borrowers to identify and apply for repayment plans, can help PhDs or former PhD students take control of their student loan debt.

“Student loans can be intimidating to even the smartest people,” said Tom Knickerbocker, Executive Vice President at Ameritech Financial. “And we know that borrowers who were studying for their PhD may be carrying a lot of debt but don’t know how to start dealing with it.”

Debt from a PhD might sound strange because those studying for PhDs often do so in a funded program, which means tuition is covered and often a stipend could be issued. (Fortunately for grad students, the tax on tuition waivers did not make it into the final draft of the recent tax overhaul legislation.) Yearly stipends, however, are usually no more than $30,000, depending on the field, but could be less than $20,000. Students will also often teach undergraduate classes as part of their funding package.

If students, however, don’t receive funding and wish to pursue a PhD, there’s a good chance that they will need to take on debt. Costs of a five-year PhD are often around $80,000, and fees can accrue if a student takes longer than expected to finish. Other PhD students might receive a stipend that is not enough to live on, especially if they have a family. Grad PLUS loans are the type of federal loan that would cover PhD tuition, and they could also cover housing, transportation, and childcare. If borrowers owe Grad PLUS loans, they are eligible for federal repayment plans. Ameritech Financial can guide these kinds of borrowers through their options and help them apply for the right plan.

If a PhD-holder or former PhD student with student loans feels that the loans are becoming unmanageable, there are both stop-gap and long-term measures available. These can come in the form of income-driven repayment plans, which, if successfully enrolled in, base the monthly loan payment on income and family size. Whether borrowers remain in the IDR for just a year or for the entire 20- to 25-year life of the loan, IDRs can help keep those struggling with their loans in good standing, out of default, and out of collections. Once a client is successfully enrolled in an IDR, Ameritech Financial will assist with the yearly recertification needed to stay in the plan.

“Ameritech Financial is all about helping our clients keep their student loans and finances under control,” said Knickerbocker. “And if PhD students are feeling the strain of student debt, we’re here to offer help.”

About Ameritech Financial

Ameritech Financial is a private company located in Rohnert Park, California. Ameritech Financial has already helped thousands of people with financial analysis and student loan document preparation to apply for federal student loan repayment programs offered through the Department of Education.

Ameritech Financial is a member of the Association for Student Loan Relief (AFSLR), and each representative on the phone has received the Certified Student Loan Professional certification through the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA).

Ameritech Financial prides itself on its exceptional Customer Service.


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