If you clicked on this article hoping to find a solution to your own student loan debt, you might want to move along and find a different article. This is not a forum explaining how to pay off debt, explain interest rates, or even list the top 10 party schools in the US. I just hope that whoever reads this can find a little humor, relate and be reminded that you’re not the only one out there struggling with student loan debt.
If you’re still reading, I would put money on it that you yourself have accrued a big pile of debt. If anyone reading this essay doesn’t owe money, I personally bow to you and kiss your feet, but also give you the double bird. I’m happy for you, I really am, but I’m also completely mind blown on how you were able to finish college without any collateral damage. How? Please write an essay and submit to the Thought Catalog. I will anxiously await your submission.
College was something that I grew up knowing that I would experience one day. My parents never asked me if I wanted to go to college, they manipulated the dialect since I was in elementary school to brainwash me into thinking that if I did not go to college, I would be poor, addicted to a scary drug and amount to nothing. Not really, but they definitely did not lead me to believe that there would be any opportunities much better than working at a fast food restaurant. I don’t necessarily blame my parents because I know they want the best for their daughters and they truly believe college was/is a piece of the puzzle, but I just wish that I would have been a little more prepared for what was waiting for me after I became an official college graduate.
I graduated on December 10th and received my first student loan bill on December 19th. You might be thinking to yourself, “You should have deferred!!” Honey, I would’ve if I could’ve. I decided to take a year off in between my second and third year of college, so I unknowingly forfeited my ability to ever go into deferment post-graduation. I was working a super low-paying job (because that is pretty much all you’re qualified for right out of college), and there was no way I could make my $444/month payment. I did what my loan provider, parents, therapist, and God told me to do. I set up my income-based repayment plan.
Once I finally finished the steps of setting up my new repayment plan, I felt energized. I felt alive. I honestly almost enrolled in grad school (thank GOD I didn’t). I now only owed $181/month and felt like that was doable. I can do this! I can be an adult and pay my bills and pretend to know what to do with chia seeds!
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Fast forward two years when I actually owed $432 more than the original amount I started to pay back. Why didn’t anyone explain the interest to me? Had I known I would be owing more money by making smaller payments, I would have gone back to grad school to delay payments a little longer! Just kidding, but it was super disappointing and defeating to feel like I wasn’t even chipping away at my debt. Honestly, it felt a whole lot like throwing away my money. Money that I worked really hard to make. Money that I made sure to set aside on top of all the other bills I now paid on my own. It made me angry and often emotional.
No matter if it’s debt, relationships, or work, if you feel like you aren’t moving forward, it’s easy to get in a funk. It seems like nowadays we constantly compare ourselves to where our parents were in life at our age or even the successful people in our generation. I thought that when I was nearing 30 years old that I would own a house, make the big bucks and might even be married. Times have changed. It’s easy to feel like I’m not where I should be at this point in my life, and that pesky debt is a constant reminder. The reality is that I am exactly where hundreds of thousands of other 27-year-olds are. We’re all in the same boat, and we are redefining our 20s and the expectations that come along with these years. These years are confusing and hard, but also really great.
Moving forward, all we can do is learn. I really hope that my generation presents their children with the option of not going to a four-year college. Whether that be community college, trade school, or joining the circus, I believe that options should be available to our future youth. I also think it’s important that we educate everyone on the cost of a four-year degree (books, housing, tuition, and beer), as well as the opportunities available for you with or without that piece of paper.
To everyone in the same boat, I feel for you. I AM one of you. We’ll pay those loans back one day, but for now, let’s enjoy our 20s.