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July 11, 2021

45 Million Americans struggle with Student Loan Debt: What can we do about it? (Seriously, I Need Help.)

I’m at the age where I’m wondering how I will pay off my student loans, save for retirement, and try to help my child with college.

I think many people can relate.

Although some had generous able parents who helped them with college, I wasn’t so lucky and did my time at community college before transferring to university for four years.

I admit I was young and naive. I signed my life away without realizing what it all meant. Of course, I will pay this back—sure, no problem, sign, sign, sign.

I later had an issue thinking I could consolidate my loans to make them easier to pay. You would think, one payment is better than a few different ones. Without a trusted parent or financial advisor, I signed away on my own and all of my interest rates were “averaged”—which meant my $50,000 dollar loan went to $70,000.

Every time I deferred, even when I was having a baby during a recession, they plopped a big dollop of interest on top. It also capitalized, which meant a huge amount of money was added to my loan.

Now a $50,000 dollar school loan for a Bachelor’s Degree (Liberal Studies) is over $75,000. Even with a nice payment plan that is income-driven, with payments of $300-500 per month for all of these years, the interest is $13 dollars a day (or $400 dollars a month). None of my money is going to the principal.

How can the United States government continue this? How can young people afford to go to college when the price continues to inflate, and the amount of money we make in our jobs hasn’t gone up much?

I moved from Seattle to the Midwest because I felt we couldn’t afford to live there anymore.

I have appreciated my reprieve from paying my loans during this COVID-19 Break—thanks, Biden. But when they resume in September—what the f*ck am I going to do?

I have a great fear of growing old and eating cat food. I have no parents, no siblings. I think, what the hell is going to happen to me? I need some peace of mind, which I believed a college degree would give me. It’s the American Dream, right?

I can put a modest amount aside for my son’s college and retirement—maybe. But this $75,000 dollars will be looming in the background.

I want to pay my loan back, but my hope and prayers are that all my payments over the last decade could go to the principal, and my interest rate could be one or two percent. I could pay it off and my payment would be something I could put toward the loan rather than paying the loan servicer/government.

I am almost 45 years old. This isn’t funny. It’s scary.

I worry about my kids trying to pay off loans, and work, and build families. With the growing cost of college, it seems daunting and nearly impossible.

I want to be proud that I’m the first one in my family with a Bachelors’s degreeand I am, but I also feel I got duped by an institution I thought had my best interest in mind. I had high hopes that have now been shattered by the inability to pay my debt. My own giant debt. The one insurmountable debt that looms over me and my family, day in and day out.

According to Robert Farrington at the College Investor (Investing and Personal Finance for Millennials), borrowers often believe that loan servicers get to keep the interest on the loan—but it doesn’t work like that. A common myth is that loan services like Navient and Fedloan make a ton of money by letting borrowers default, and charging interest and fees.

But the fact is, these loan servicers get a set cost per loan. The interest goes to the United States Government. He says, “The amount of student loan debt in the United States continues to grow with over $1.7 trillion in student loans outstanding.”

Almost 45 million Americans currently have student loan debt.

I want to know what we can do about it. Yes, of course, I want a bailout. I want help. I need help.

Luckily, I work in Public Service and my loans can be forgiven if I meet the criteria after 10 years. But, where will that put me? At 55 years old, I’m still doing the same job because I have to. It’s true what they say, “The borrower is a slave to the lender.”

I wish I would have known. Would I have changed my mind? I don’t know. I wish more about finance was taught in school, and I wish life was fair.

Please let me know if you relate in any way. I know there are many of us out there, but it’s something rarely talked about.

What can we do to get up and out of this current system?

~

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