Pay Off Student Loan Debt and Save

If you started in the workforce with debt from school, it's still possible to save for your future as well.

More than 43 million Americans over age 18 currently carry a federal student loan.1 If you're among them, you may wonder how it's even possible to think about saving for retirement. This is especially relevant if you've recently entered the workforce and have an entry-level salary. But getting started now can make a huge difference for your savings in the long run.

  • There's a pandemic going on right now. Can I get a break on my student loans?
    Yes! The coronavirus has financially impacted so many people. Through the CARES Act, certain types of federal student loans2 have an interest rate of 0% through September 30, 2020. On August 7, President Trump extended those student loan relief provisions by Executive Order until December 31, 2020. And borrowers not covered by the CARES Act may be eligible for payment arrangements such as income-driven repayment plans or interest and late-fee deferment. Being able to worry less about student loans during these unprecedented times can make it easier to focus on saving for your future. You can read more about the CARES Act's effects on student loans here.

  • Why should I save for retirement if I just began repaying my student loans?
    While everyone's financial circumstances differ, the investment you make in yourself today will help you tomorrow. This is true if you just began paying off your student loans or are getting ready to send your final payment. Retirement may be very far away, but by making contributions to your retirement plan, you actually lower your current taxable income, so you'll pay less income tax.3 Plus, the money you contribute isn't taxed until you withdraw it. That means your contributions grow tax-deferred, giving your savings the opportunity to grow faster over time.4

  • How much should I put away for retirement?
    That depends. First, look at your monthly expenses to make sure you're covering your minimum payment amounts to avoid penalties and that you put enough aside for living expenses. Then, see how much you have left to contribute to your retirement savings. If your company-sponsored retirement plan offers an employer match, take full advantage of it, if possible. As the chart shows, this means your employer will match a certain percentage of your contribution up to a specific level of your salary—for example, 50% of your contributions up to 6% of your annual pay. Passing on this would be like giving up free money.

    annual salary chart

    This hypothetical example is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent any actual investment performance, price or yield. This illustration assumes an annual salary of $35,000, an annual employee contribution of 6% and a beginning balance of $0. It also includes an employer match of 50% of contributions up to 6% of salary, assumes no increase in earnings and has an annual rate of return of 6%. Investment returns are not guaranteed. Your actual return may vary significantly from that shown, and the total amounts saved in this example may or may not be sufficient for your retirement needs.

While the need to pay off student loans is immediate and necessary, doing so should be done in tandem with saving for retirement whenever possible. The earlier you begin contributing to your retirement savings, the more those savings will be able to grow.

To learn more about saving for your retirement, contact your local Mutual of America representative today.


"Addressing the $1.5 Trillion in Federal Student Loan Debt," Center for American Progress, 2019.


Only those federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education are eligible for this treatment. According to the Department of Education, some federal student loans are owned by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are owned by the institution attended by the borrower. These loans are not eligible for this benefit at this time, but you can contact your servicer to ask about what benefits may be available. To find out if your student loan is owned by the Department of Education, visit After you log in with your FSA ID, you will be on your dashboard. If you click on "view details," you will be taken to your Aid Summary. If you scroll down on this page, you will see a section called "Loan Breakdown." In your Loan Breakdown, if you see a servicer name that starts with "DEPT OF ED," that servicer is for a loan that is owned by the Department of Education.


Tax-deductible contributions apply to traditional retirement savings plans only. Roth contributions, if permitted under your plan, are made on an after-tax basis and grow on a tax-free, rather than a tax-deferred, basis.


Withdrawals are subject to income tax at your ordinary income tax rate at the time of withdrawal, and if made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal tax penalty.


You should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the variable annuity contract and the underlying investment funds carefully before investing. This and other information is contained in the contract prospectus or brochure and underlying funds prospectuses and summary prospectuses, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-468-3785 or visiting Read them carefully before investing.

Mutual of America's group and individual retirement products are variable annuity contracts and are suitable for long-term investing, particularly for retirement savings. The value of a variable annuity contract will fluctuate depending on the performance of the Separate Account investment options you choose. Upon redemption, you could receive more or less than the principal amount invested. A variable annuity contract provides no additional tax-deferred treatment of benefits beyond the treatment provided to any qualified retirement plan or IRA by applicable tax law. You should consider a variable annuity contract's other features before making a decision.

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