As American students now cumulatively owe about $1 trillion in student loan debt, Yahoo is publishing first-person accounts from those who are still paying and those who have lessons to share. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | In December 2006, I graduated from Wichita State University with a marketing degree and $3,000 of debt. Luckily, unlike most college graduates, my debt was minimal, but not by pure luck or chance, though. I was determined to be debt-free throughout my college career. Unfortunately, I fell short by $3,000, but through a large dose of discipline, I was able to pay off that single loan within a year of graduation.
My parents struck a deal with me: If I completed a college course before my freshman year, they would pay for it. Through one of my high school's programs, I was able to complete 19 hours of college credit by the time I graduated, all at my parents' expense. Their encouragement also led me to pursue and apply for countless scholarships. I was awarded three scholarships upon application to Wichita State University, paying for my freshman and sophomore years.
One of the major reasons I chose to attend Wichita State University was because it was close to home. This allowed me to live with my parents and keep two part-time jobs. When my junior year fell upon me, I had moved out of my parents' house and was out of scholarship money.
I worked 30 hours a week while taking 15 college credits and had a strict budget. I saved every last penny and opted for a payment plan through Wichita State University during my junior year that broke my payments into $500 chunks. During my senior year, I applied for a $3,000 student loan so I could cut back my work hours to focus on my grades.
Within a year of graduation, I married a soldier in the U.S. Army. When he received his second installment of his enlistment bonus, we made the decision to pay off my student loan. At the time, it was a struggle to be responsible and pay off the loan. We postponed our honeymoon by a year and waited several years to purchase new furniture and appliances.
Looking back, I applaud our dedication.
Now, nearly seven years later, I'm 28 and residing near Ft. Bragg, N.C., as a stay-at-home mom to a newborn baby girl. Paying off my student loan so quickly allows me to retain a positive image about debt. I never had to experience the strain of paying off a large sum of money over several years. The decision to pay off my student loan in one lump sum has shaped how I view and handle debt to this day.
I don't shy away from loans; I think they can be helpful in making large purchases when responsibly exercised.
- Financial Aid
- Wichita State University
- student loan