Investing in Your Future: How to Pay Off Student Debt with Christie Arkovich

Student debt can be a significant financial burden for many people, but it is a challenge that can be overcome with the right strategies and mindset. One effective strategy is to create a budget and pay off high-interest loans first while exploring options for loan forgiveness or refinancing. Additionally, seeking resources and support from student loan specialists can provide valuable guidance and assistance in managing student debt.

In this episode, Christie Arkovich joins us to share some valuable tips on how to pay off your student debt, including applying for an IDR waiver, the benefits of paying more than the minimum payment, refinancing your loans, and looking into forgiveness programs. 

If you've been struggling with student debt for years — or know someone who has, this episode is for you. You can pay off your debts — you just need the right strategy.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Learn how to manage and pay off your student loan debts.
  2. Discover practical ways to repay your debts on time.
  3. Understand how the IDR waiver can play a big role in saving you from paying more.


  • Check out the new Profit with Law YouTube channel!
  • Want to implement what you’ve learnt in this episode? Download the Action Guide, a workbook designed to help you process and implement the knowledge gained from this interview.
  • Learn more about the Profit with Law Elite Coaching Program here
  • Connect with Christie:  Website | LinkedIn | Facebook | Youtube
  • Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of financial aid for college in the U.S. Understand aid, apply for aid, and manage your student loans today.


Episode Highlights

Christie’s Background

  • Christie has been a Florida licensed attorney for 30 years since graduating with honors from Stetson College of Law in 1992.
  • She frequently speaks for many organizations for consumer-oriented continuing legal education seminars for other attorneys.
  • She contributes a quarterly column about recent student loan-related laws, regulations, and developments to the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association's Student Loan sidebar.

Christie:  “It fit nicely with what I like to do. Which is until I'm proven wrong, I think that I should try. And so we actively were defending foreclosures during that crisis. And we have done a ton of student loan work in getting rid of that debt and it’s working.”

  • She was chair of the consumer CLE for the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association from 2019 to 2022.

What You Can Do to Pay Off Your Student Loan

  • Student loan debt is huge. It’s difficult to pay off, consumes far too much of your income, and prevents you from doing other things with your life that you might enjoy. 
  • You might be in the wrong loan program if you've ever worked in public service and been denied forgiveness because you had the wrong loan type.
  • Christie recommends that changing your Federal Family Education loans is the first solution to the problem.

Christie: “We need to change them to be a newer direct loan to make them eligible for some of the new stuff that's out there.”

  • Another solution is getting an IDR waiver instead of the forbearance that makes the balance bigger over time.

Christie: “The IDR waiver program allows anyone with a direct loan to now get a one time account adjustment. So that if they have been paying on the loan for 20 or 25 years, in whatever program they might have been in, including extended forbearances that maybe they shouldn't have been on, they're gonna get credit for that time now. And their loan may be completely wiped out.”

  • Ultimately, Christie recommends contacting a student loan specialist to help you solve the problem.

Don’t Wait for the Deadline Before You Pay Off Your Debts

  • The IDR waiver program offers a backdoor for those who don’t have the time to file for FFEL loans to direct and still be eligible.
  • It is important not to wait to file a public service loan forgiveness application and convert your loans directly.

Christie: “I recommend people file it now, don't wait to the end of the year because the landscape could be different. This IDR waiver program could be under appeal. I, frankly, am getting to be to the point where I'm surprised if it's not. And I get it while it’s good, so I do it now.”

  • If you have direct loans, you don't have to do anything for the one-time account adjustment to apply. 

New Repay vs. Old Repay

  • The old Repay is a 10% program. It's the one that most people used but it requires a spouse's income to count.
  • The new Repay does not include a spouse's income and is less expensive.
  • The old Repay method was 10% of a person's discretionary earnings. The new revised Repay will be roughly one-third of what it was previously.

Christie: “On the case studies that we've done, it looks like the student loan payment under an IDR Repay under the new revised Repay is going to be about a third of what it probably was before.”

  • If approved, the combination of the IDR waiver occurring automatically before the end of the year and the new Repay could result in a manageable federal student loan.

How Public Service Can Grant Forgiveness

  • What counts for public service forgiveness is full-time employment, which is defined as 30 hours or more unless the employer has a different designation.
  • You will be eligible for forgiveness if you have not previously applied for public service under the new rules.
  • The application includes the employer's certification. You receive a letter stating how many payments you have and how much more you must pay off.

Christie: “I always think that's a good idea, particularly for those people who don't know a lot about their loans. They need to know ahead of time.”

Helping Clients with Student Loans Pay Off Debt

  • Private loans are not eligible for any of the government's federal processes.
  • Settling a private student loan, and doing so before the end of 2025, makes it tax-free.

Christie: “That's where we're focused some of our efforts in this upcoming couple years. Is to try to get as many people under that as we can.”

  • Ask clients to take the Bruner test. It’s a way to know what someone must show for an undue hardship to discharge a federal or private student loan.
  • Examine your client's possessions. You could have your clients get their information from
  • Evaluate what they have, make recommendations, and direct them to information about what they can do with those loans.

Christie: “Make sure that you know what you have in loans, you take control, don't trust the servicer to do so because there's been studies 62% of them, they end up saying the wrong thing anyway.”

About Christie

Christie Arkovich has been a Florida licensed attorney for 30 years since graduating from Stetson College of Law in 1992 with honors. Ms. Arkovich is a frequent speaker at various consumer oriented continuing legal education seminars for other attorneys before the American Bankruptcy Institute (“ABI”), the National Association of Consumer Advocates (“NACA”) and the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association (the “TBBBA”). She also writes a quarterly column for the TBBBA, Student Loan Sidebar, about recent student loan related laws, regulations and developments nationwide. Whenever possible, Ms. Arkovich takes the opportunity to share her knowledge about student loans gained from prior work as trial counsel for Sallie Mae, ECMC and other student loan servicers or guarantors, and from her practice now on the consumer side of things. She recently served on the Student Loan Committee for the new Student Loan Management Program in the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida and was Chair of the Consumer CLE for the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association for 2019-2022.

Connect with Christie on LinkedIn.

Interested in connecting with a Student Loan Lawyer? Connect with Christie on Website, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Visit her blog to read about how to manage student loan debts.

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