How Much is a College Education Worth to Me? $20,000 and 12 Years of Payments

Student Loans Got Me Through College, but the Interest Has Me Questioning Why

Yahoo Contributor Network
How Much is a College Education Worth to Me? $20,000 and 12 Years of Payments

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My wife, Emily Chaney, left, with me.

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 | How much was a good college education worth to me?

Just about $20,250. That's according to my student loan bill that started coming two months after I graduated from Ohio University's EW Scripps School of Journalism with my bachelor's degree in March 2010.

Working in the notoriously cutthroat and staunchly paid journalism industry, my $245 per month student loan payment is an unwelcomed sight, but not one that is completely debilitating. After all, I took out the money in order to get trained for a career that I love at a school that is well-known and well-respected for doing just that in my field.

Straight out of college, I took a part-time job working a high school sports beat for The Cincinnati Enquirer and shortly thereafter landed a full-time gig covering a county that has 10 area high schools and various other junior colleges and activities to fulfill my sports writing itch for The Clermont (Ohio) Sun.

All of these opportunities and the ability to not completely dread work in the morning are thanks in large part to my parents, who helped me with my college tuition, but also to student loans, which picked up the tab when we couldn't afford to.

That being said, paying $245 a month doesn't seem too unreasonable. A weekend staying in the house here or a buddies trip missed there, all in the name of higher education? I can handle that; it's the price I paid to have the ability to do what I love and get paid for it.

In the roughly two years since I've had to begin to pay back my loans, I have paid just north of $4,500. That's a decent dent, about a one-fourth of my total borrow. However, the part that gets me is the interest accumulated. Of that $4,500 paid, nearly $1,250 was interest alone, meaning around $75 of my $245 per month, or 27 percent of my payment, is simply paying off money that I didn't borrow, yet has been accumulated by the bank for the favor they provided me.

Now, I'm not naïve. I understand the premise. They're taking a risk in giving out the money, but I'm incurring that risk as a responsible post-grad.

What about a little good faith?

In more than two years, I have never missed a payment, never been late on a payment, so how about a little appreciation for my loyalty to their investment? Why not institute some kind of good standing clause that freezes interest accumulation for those honoring their payments?

At my current rate, I will be paying off my student loans for 97 months or about eight years. I'll be 33 years old and 12 years removed from a dorm in Athens, Ohio.

Student loans gave me an opportunity to do what I love for a living and for that, I'm grateful. But how about a little reciprocation? Honor my commitment to work off my debt by cutting me some slack with interest.

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