First Person: How My Student Loans Are My 'Frenemies'

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First Person: How My Student Loans Are My 'Frenemies'
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K.M. Eddington

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 | Loans are the "frenemies" I was forced to like. They invited me in, telling me all the opportunities I could have if I just signed the dotted line; but they skirted around the fact I'll be indebted to them in the future.

See, I knew what could happen if I took out student loans. I went to a specialized high school in NYC and my high school counselor was proactive about warning us of the slippery slope of too much debt. I had a goal, however, of going out of state since I never been farther than a five-mile radius from my home. I craved getting the college experience I heard so much about.

I applied for FASFA and got the max I could get and even a decent scholarship to attend the University of Miami. Still, I needed to take out loans to cover the expense of living in dorms, and I did so without going overboard. I ended up taking only about $4,000 of individual student loans my first two years because I didn't want to burden my family with PLUS loans.

I expected to graduate with around $8,000 in loans, but that changed when I also decided I wanted to study abroad in London. Studying abroad was always something I wanted to do, and when I didn't land two scholarship awards, I decided it would be worth it to take out a loan.

I am now in my 20s and looking at graduating with around $10,000 to $15,000 in debt. But I'm working on paying back most of it while I am still in school. I'm working relentlessly as a tutor and writing for my school newspaper. The main reason I'm working so hard to pay them back is because it was my decision to take out loans. I didn't have to take out loans I chose to. I could have decided to stay closer to home or not taken the opportunity to study abroad.

But I knew for my own sake that I wanted to reach my personal goals for growth, and I am glad I got a chance to do so. I would advise other students to take out minimum amount of loans. I would also encourage students to look into every scholarship option possible and not to get lazy with applying. Free money is better than borrowed money.

More students need a more responsible financial education -- before they add on to the already blown-up crisis of student debt. Loans can control you and dictate your life, just like a bad group of friends, but only if you let them.

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