What’s your Student Debt Story?
Student Debt Story:
I look back at my education very often and compare my success to those of fellow graduates, and can't help but wonder did I make the right decision?
All my favorite stories start with these magical words, "Once upon a time..." So, once upon a time there was a middle class boy who had two parents of varying education; one with an associates and in the medical profession, and one with only a high school education in the aerospace industry. I can always remember my parent's encouragement as I grew up, "study hard, get into a good school so you can make money and live, "happily ever after." I can't tell you how many times over the past seven years if my, "happily ever after" will come.
My dad lost his job during the 80's due to lack of government contracts and little to no investment. It was the first time I experienced what it might be like to be homeless. He was able to find odd jobs here and there, but knew that he had to go back to school if he was going to be the bread winner of the family and ensure that I wouldn't have to go to public school. My parents believed in education, but they invested in a private education because they knew that public schools just weren't cutting it.
Fast forward 12 years of private catholic school education I began my college career in the fall of 1998. Having little savings aside, I began my educational career at California State Polytechnic University Pomona where I successfully flourished for the first year and a half. I struggled with identifying what I wanted to do with my life. Having changed my major several times, I took it upon myself to pay for my own schooling by getting a job and dropping out of school for a year to build up savings to have at it again.
I started working at Disneyland in the winter of 1998 my dream job! I thought many times, well this is my dream job, why do I need to go to school?, but the instillment and echo of my parent's values kept me motivated despite the lack of direction. I just knew one thing, getting my bachelor's was paramount to living the life they had dreamed for me. I guess that's what parents do, they want the best for their children to be more successful than they were.
It wasn't until 2003 that I learned about student loans. I did exactly what the student financial aid office told me to do. Fill out the FASA, and see what you get. Well I didn't qualify because I made too much money from working at Disneyland. How 8.03 an hour was too much income, I will never understand. I did know one thing, in order to be successful, I had to work part time and go to school full time, so I took out the maximum federal loans I could get. I went online completed the quizzes and that was that, had my loans and knew that some of the interest was being paid while I was in school. It wasn't until 2005 when I transferred to Chapman University that I learned about alternative loans. The only thing I was told was they would run my credit score to see if I was eligible. To my surprise I was, so I signed on the dotted line and that was that.
In 2008 I finally graduated! After 10 years of struggle with finding myself and who I wanted to be, I had that paper, that paper with th gold seal, the paper that would provide me with the money that I needed to pay off these student loans.
Well 2008 wasn't such a hot year for graduating students. I was lucky enough to get an internship at an advertising agency, in my educational field, but it paid 12 dollars an hour. I was actually making more money at Disneyland at 14 dollars an hour. So I remained part time at Disneyland to see if the internship at the ad agency would turn into something . It did not unfortunately as the agency laid off 40 people while I was there. So I went back to Disneyland thinking I would be able to move into management since I had my degree and had plenty of Leadership, well that was a big fat no. Three words corporate politics suck! (That's another story all in itself)
The only thing that I could do to prevent the student loans from going into repayment was going back to school part time. Underwater basketweaving it is!
From 2008-today, I have worked two to four jobs to just pay the INTEREST! on some of my loans!
I learned that my ALTERNATIVE LOANS were PRIVATE LOANS! Why didn't they tell me!? I asked questions to make sure they worked the same way as the federal loans and was assured that they were.
To this day I have paid 3,000 off the principal of one of my 5 student loans. I owe about 180,000. I pay about 1000 a month just to stay a float. In 2017 my student loans will get higher by 400 dollars, so I will be owing 1400 a month! Wow, isn't that trip to a destination? Isn't that a house payment? Isn't that a payment for two cars and insurance for both of those? I asked one of my lenders to tell me when I would be done paying my student loans, and the told me 2055. I will be 75 years old when I pay my loans?!!! I'll be dammed if that is going to happen.
Here are the list of things that I have put off because of paying my student loans.
Buying a House
Starting a Family
Donating to non-profits
Getting a Master's degree
The list goes on and on
Let me be CLEAR... I don't want a handout. I don't want my loans to be forgiven. I signed the documents, I will pay these back, but how much of my LIFE do I have to sacrifice? How many jobs do I have to work? I can't tell you the number of times I have thought about doing porn to just even pay off maybe one or two of my loans, but alas my pride and dignity get in the way. I can't tell you the number of times suicide did cross my mind because I had no co-signer, so they wouldn't be able go after my family once I was gone. All of these things because I got that shiny piece of paper.
I would love to see some reform. Why does the interest need to be so high? Is all of congress planning on cashing in on their pensions at the same time? Why are private loans even offered to students? There is too much PROFIT in education, and that's what scares me. I have learned so much since I have graduated, and like the changes they have made for federal loans, but they really need to develop a program for private student loans.
Private student loans are the stench that comes from farting after a run, you know when your crack sweat is going and you let one loose and it just makes you want to die three times over? I hope you either laughed or crinkled your nose at that one because that's how I feel. Private Student loans need the MOST reform!
Again to be CLEAR, I want to be a good customer, I want to pay you! But I NEED HELP! I need you (the lender) to realize I need options. How about lowering that interest rate since I have been paying you for 5 years and filling your pockets with my hard earned money.
There are so many thoughts and feelings that I have about this issue and I look forward to CHANGE! Change for the better, change so that three generations from now student's know where they stand when they leave high school to embark on their journeys of greatness.
I don't think college education is for everyone and I feel that are so many resources that should be available to high school students to help them figure that out if getting a higher education is the right choice for them. I don't regret my choice, but I wish I had a little more resources to help me along the way in terms of financial investment. money management, and career counseling.
I do have two things that no lender will be able to take away from me, and that is HOPE and DETERMINATION.
A wise woman once told me "You can't get blood from a stone." and that quote is something I hope every lender reads and thinks about.