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 a small Jesuit college in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2005. If you asked me when I graduated whether I'd be drowning in student loan debt eight years later, I would have laughed and said, "No way."
It's a shame my naivety at the time -- I was 21 -- has now put a halt to any optimism I could have. I am trapped.
One of the most frequently asked questions that undergrads will hear is: "What do you want to study?" A good portion of those will not know. And even after picking a major, some will still not know what they want to do after graduation. This was my case.
I chose the major of business administration, knowing that it was a broad field of study, which would give me many more channels to seek out a job. At the time, it seemed genius. I would graduate, have a great business degree, and be making more money than Donald Trump before I turned 30. Well, I turn 30 this year, and this is certainly not the case. As I'm heading into the part of my life where people settle down, buy homes, and save money, I am still making monthly payments of $500 to try and chip away at my student loan debt of $56,000. While my career in commercial insurance has been successful, (bringing me to Philadelphia, where I currently live) I often wonder what opportunities I have missed because of the debt that I owe.
I have reached a point in my life (which I assume many do) that I question my career choice and whether this is the path most suited for me. Unfortunately, the oppressive sum of student loans that I still owe hold me back from making a career switch in a field where I would be forced to take a pay cut. They also hold be back from pursuing a second degree in a field of study I would find more interesting. The thought of taking on more student loans makes me sick to my stomach.
After a few months of graduation, the bank sends you a nice little letter in the mail telling you how much you owe and what your monthly payments will be. I cheerfully opened the letter, knowing I would have an obligation to pay these back. Maybe $100 a month, I thought. $150, at the most, would be fine. After reading through the letter they sent me, I first felt what it was like to have anxiety. $550 a month was what I would owe for years and years to come.
I got my first job after college making $30,000 a year. I was offered a position in a client services department for one of the largest commercial banks in the world. When I first heard that offer come through the phone, I thought I'd be on top of the world in no time. Well, after income tax, rent and my student loan payments, I was left with a measly $533 month to survive. This was less than what I had left over when I worked at the local car wash during college.
Student loans have not helped me secure the job or life that I want. If someone doesn't know what they want to do in life, do not feel pressured that college is the answer. I've met just as many successful barbers and beauticians as I have businessmen.
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