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 | My name is Dean Jackson. I am a 44-year-old news and sports reporter from Fort Wayne, Ind. I have about $30,000 left to pay on my student loans. Twenty-two years ago, I graduated from Huntington University with bachelor's degree in communications.
Candidly, I've struggled ever since in the volatile media industry. Just like the starving artist, it's been difficult.
Yet, it's been a great trip. I've enjoyed every step along the way. I've made friends and lived stories that I couldn't even conceive of in my mind as a high school student plotting my future. Three countries, 39 states, hundreds of articles and thousands of broadcasts later, I can't say it has ever been boring.
The only thing I haven't got to show for it? Much in savings. I've never purchased a new car. I'm still dreaming the American dream, while sequestered in rental home.
I'm not complaining, but I thought it would be different. But that's OK because I've never been motivated by money. Sure, I've taken jobs to take jobs, but somehow I managed not give up my passion. My friends and family tell me that's a source of personal pride.
I'm paying $260 a month toward my debt out of default status and, thankfully, I've been able to do it for about a year -- sometimes by scraping together odd jobs and pushing the collection date. But I've done it. I've also consciously figured out that I need to find an extra $10 a day to make sure the bill will be paid.
I made a commitment, and I intend to fulfill it. I shouldn't expect anyone else to clean up my messes. I continue to believe student loans are often necessary to complete an education. Realistically, I couldn't have paid for college any other way. I'm the youngest of five farm kids -- just simple, salt-of-the earth people who knew more about getting by than getting rich. We weren't well-off, but we weren't poor either.
I'm sure my story isn't that unusual.
I'm no fan of debt; in fact, I think its curse, an epidemic that plagues just about every family today. But that's fine; I've got an education. And I was taught to continue to learn and pursue truth long after college. That's something I couldn't buy.
That's not a bad trade, is it?
- student loans