Earlier in the week I talked about how I dream of student loan forgiveness in a perfect world. Now I will tell you a bit about my student loan journey.
From a young age I knew the only way out of my families insanity was to work hard in school and get scholarships to go to college. My dad has never respected college and thinks it’s too high brow. My mom and sister both took seven years or so to finish associates degrees. Then never really used them. My sister was a nursing assistant before becoming permanently and totally disabled. My mother still works as a manager at a restaurant.
I worked myself ragged in high school, took every extracurricular, took an AP class at the school district on weekends, worked every weekend and most holidays, and kept my GPA at a 3.975 by graduation. I managed to become valedictorian. This allowed me to get the second highest tier of scholarship at my chosen college. The next tier was full tuition coverage which was reserved for student athletes. Between that, a local scholarship competition for $1,000, graduation gifts, savings from working from the age of 15, and grants I managed to pay for my first year of college. I scrapped by with 2-3 jobs during the school year, working 35 plus hours as a waitress during the summer, and scraping together every penny from christmas and birthdays to cover my sophomore and junior years.
In a bid to cover more I repeatedly tried to become a resident assistant. I had no problem with the responsibility and met the requirements. I interviewed for the position every year and even had current resident assistant references but it was not to be. When I hit senior year and having to be at an internship 16-21 hours a week that was unpaid, it cut back on how many hours I could work and still get all my 400 level work done. I ended up having to take out $5,000 a semester and landed myself in $10,000 in debt in a year.
As senior year progressed I was in a panic, after four years of partial freedom was closing I could not go back to living with my family. A bachelors in social work would not pay the bills, but I did not earn my way into a coveted advanced standing position for my graduate degree either. Knowing my own well being and career were at risk I took the leap of faith and signed off on two years for a graduate degree. I had to pay out of state tuition for one year since my family is from out of state. I spent hours of work to prove I would live in state to get in state tuition rates for my second year. I worked 20 hours a week at the on campus gym, picked up extra hours all summer, and still I ended up with $119,822 in student loans, plus my undergraduate loans, and interest. I am now at $ 135,961.71 in debt. Even with payments since 2017, a loan forgiveness grant for 10,000, and working extra hours I cannot get the number to lower.
My debt to income ratio is now too high to qualify for a mortgage on my own, even with my husband as a co signer, it will be difficult to qualify for some loans. I am not sure I could even get a car loan due to my student debt.
If I did not live with my husband I would not be able to regularly afford rent, my bills, student loan payments, and still keep food in the fridge without help. This is why it is so important to me that we have student loan reform and forgiveness.