Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Student Loan Story

Ah, student loans. I came out with the full amount a couple weeks ago. If you didn't see it, here it is again: 27k. Well, it's an approximate amount, but it's everything I owe at this current point. But where did it come from???

It was in high school that I decided to go into a field I loved, but luckily (well hopefully) was also practical. I applied to a few schools and got into all of them. Luck was even on my side in that my top pick gave me the most financial aid in terms of scholarships, not just loans. Yay for hard work!!!

While in college, my schoolwork took a lot of time. And with all the extra curricular activities, there was little time to work. And yet, I found time. On weekends I worked an amazing work study that gave me lots of time to study and do something I enjoyed with great pay. The months I lived on campus, it was essentially play money, because all my expenses were paid. Once I moved off campus, my mom matched every dollar I earned (usually about $400) and put it in the bank account. With rent for my room being $400, and not everything included, I learned to live a very indulgent lifestyle on what I made. Being able to pull together all of our resources, including time and money, helped my roommates and I living together on a tight budget make the best of what we had.

All of my student loan money went directly to the school. Most people don't realize that I never saw a penny of the money. It wasn't spent on clothes or dinners, but tuition. The semesters where there was an amount the loans didn't cover, usually 1k or 2k, my mom would give me the money. She saw this as an investment in my future. The small amount I earned using work study would have paid off this amount, but my mom didn't want me to feel responsible in paying it back. She knew these were a few less loans I would have to take out.

After graduation, I had a large amount of money saved up and made a huge payment to get rid of my largest and highest interest loan right off the bat. This lowered the interest rate and my monthly payments significantly.

Honestly, I felt I did the best I could, with what I had. No one is perfect, and while you are in college, you are usually making a lot of decisions for the first time on your own. But it's also great knowing that the sound decisions I made early on have led me to a more secure path. So yes, my student loan story is boring, but I know it's better this way.

What did you do with your student loan money? Did you use it on the practical or was it misspent on all the greatest things college students find!?


  1. Many moons back, when I graduated from university, I was fortunate not to have any debt. This was due to two things:
    (1) back then (and we're talking long before you were born - lol) education expenses were a lot cheaper, and
    (2) I worked my butt off during the summers and on weekends during the school seasons to pay my student expenses, while still living at home with my parents.Giving me free room and board represented their help to me during those years.

    Practically every buck went towards school expenses - boring eh?

    Years have gone by, IT career now in retirement, good investments made, practical budgets followed, now totally debt free, own our house mortgage free. Discipline, hard work and financial maturity.

    You too Amanda can do all this - and probably more.

    1. My hope is that when my kids are going into college, tuition prices will be much more controlled than they are now. It's sad that the way it used to be, being able to work hard during the off months and get a few bucks in the bank doesn't help much anymore.

      But hopefully, those tried and true methods that you described above will get me out of this student loan debt!

  2. I find it really disturbing when people use student loans to fund their lifestyle rather than their tuition. I mean I know it costs money to live, but is it really worth all that extra debt? Could those expenses not be covered by part time work? I think part of the problem is, most 18 year olds don't understand the implications of all that loan money they're spending.

    1. I definitely agree that most 18 year olds can see the correlation between using the money to buy clothes and dinners and the debt they rack up. There really should be a seminar or at least some type of course as to what money really is!