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 | I graduated from high school in May 1984 and started college that fall. At first, I didn't borrow money because I had an athletic scholarship for track. In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I became pregnant and dropped out.
A couple of years later, as a single mom, I started on my long and winding road to a college education. I applied and was admitted to a beauty college in Boulder, Colo., in the fall of 1987. I borrowed about $2,500 to attend. When I was about halfway through the program, the school folded. I was unable to finish this education. I did, however, get to keep the loan.
For a couple of years, I worked and survived as a single mom. I deferred this loan during that time. I went to Barnes Business College in 1989, stopped and had another baby, and graduated in 1992. My loans for this schooling were close to $12,000. At that point, my total debt was about $15,000 plus accumulated interest.
I did not make much money in my field and had little left in my budget for student loan debt. I deferred those loans and started back to school to finish my bachelor's degree in 1994. I wasn't dedicated and was raising three children throughout these years. By the time that I finally graduated in 2008, my accumulated loans and interest was almost $80,000.
I did not borrow that much money; I think I only borrowed around $50,000 60,000. A few years ago, just having any degree made a difference in securing a job. Now, a degree in behavioral science just means that I'm good at Trivial Pursuit. Since I graduated in 2008, I've been unable to make more than a few payments on this giant loan and have deferred it many times.
Recently, I've added to it in pursuit of an MBA that should enable me to make enough money to actually be able to pay back my student loan debt. By the time I graduate with my MBA next year, I will be 47. I will have payments on almost $130,000 in student loans that will exceed $800 per month for more than 25 years. I won't have the lifestyle that goes with making good money due to the large loan debt.
I don't regret the education, but I do regret the large loans. My debt is very excessive for my level of education, but it is my fault for being unfocused and taking years to graduate. If I could do my life over, I would have borrowed much less, waited to have children and majored in a money-making degree like nursing or accounting.