I know that some of you are sick as hell of hearing about student loans, so please feel free to skip! I also know I have said this a hundred times, but considering that people still send me emails lecturing me on these facts, then I will say it again:
- I know that they are my loans to pay. I know that I took them out and that I am solely responsible for their repayment. I KNOW.
- I know that I make a good salary and that I can afford to repay my loans with it. I am not claiming to be poor.
I write about student loans because I know a lot of you (or your partners/spouses/lovers/kids/friends) are in a similar boat. I constantly see negative commentary about how irresponsible people with student loans are and how we just need to “suck it up and deal.” And, again, I am here to say that I am sucking it up and dealing, but WHY MUST IT BE SO DAMN HARD.
For instance, here is my forever growing interest rate:
These are just the changes in ONE YEAR. And I cannot do shit about it. I have enrolled in every option that allows me any kind of discount in my plans – but that has also screwed me over. For instance, I use an automatic draft to pay these loans because it gave me a .25% discount on my interest rate. Great! Oh, except for the fact that no less than ten times have they drafted the money and applied the entire amount to one loan instead of the applying the payments as dictated across four loans. And because they do not have to give a shit, then I have to make additional payments to cover the other three loans. I already make over $2000 a month in student loans payments, so another $500-$700 is some real shit. Again, these are my loans to pay, but that is also well over a third of my net income which is not awesome.
And, when companies calculate repayment, they base on it on my total income with zero consideration of other loan payments. And I know this is my fault because I took out the loans, but when four different companies are calculating the maximum they can charge me based on my income it REALLY SUCKS. And I also had no idea at all that when I took out these loans that they could be broken up and sold all over the place. I have tried multiple times to consolidate the non-federal loans into one company, but I have not been approved as of yet because, oh yeah, my debt to income ratio is shit.
Anyway. The reason I complain about the interest is because of this:
I have been paying these loans for over seven years. I used to make pay the unpaid interest in addition to my monthly payment, but it made no impact. I have paid $35,000 thus far to these two loans. For one of those loans, I am down $586 from my original balance. SEVEN YEARS LATER. For my second loan, I now owe $1348 more than when I started. SEVEN YEARS LATER. My current monthly payment for these loans is $1,034.56. Last year, my monthly payment was $875, but I got a $100/month raise last year and so they have upped it to match that. I have never missed a payment or entered forebearance or deferrment.
These are my federal loans which I am hoping and praying will get forgiven one day through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan, but I have no faith. I also was informed that other day that despite my account stating that I had made 78 months of qualifying payments, I am now getting only 44 months of qualifying payment credit because of the payment plan I was on in the beginning. So, I am now fighting with the Department of Education which is such fun.
If you did not have to take out loans to finish your education, then I am genuinely happy for you. I do not wish this on anyone. You should be incredibly proud, but you also do not need to lecture me about it because I already worry about it all day every day. So, congratulations, you’re a better person than me. You did a better job paying for your education than I did. You win. You are more responsible. I am well aware that plenty of people get through college without debt. I didn’t. I made the decisions I needed to make at the time and I do not regret it. If I had not taken out loans I could not have gotten my doctorate when I did and I would not have had the career opportunities I have had because of it.
I worked two jobs as an undergraduate and worked full-time during my master’s and doctoral programs. With the exception of two years, I have had at least one roommate for the past 15 years. I do go on vacation and travel because that gives me joy and life is too short not to do some things that make you happy. Anyway, I am just feeling really beaten down by this right now and I want to scream.
It also infuriates me that people like Donald Trump can declare bankruptcy endlessly to get out of their bad business decisions, but student loan borrowers have no options.