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 | Hello, my name is Roosevelt and I'm a "loaner."
I am 29 and live in Redondo Beach, Calif., with my wife, a homemaker, and our two daughters. We owe $34,000 to a major student loan company I like refer to as "PaySallie."
I rather not include the original amount of loans we took out, but we have paid roughly 25 percent of them. All of our student debt is courtesy of the fine education and three degrees we received from California State University, Long Beach.
Though happy with my collegiate decisions, I am also displeased with the nature of student loan dependence. The old saying can be revised: "The only things guaranteed in life are death, student loans, and taxes." I believe student loans are the largest hindrance to financial freedom -- especially since the cost of education and its value are now inversely proportional.
It was difficult for me to afford college, even with some parental support, so I used loans. However, the augmented new reality is that it is even more difficult to pay back the loans without a quality job, if you have one at all.
Like many, I entered college with one major, graduated with another, and gained employment in an unrelated field. My first job paid $35,000 and didn't leave much for loan payments and living comfortably. If I only had only current living expenses to cover, my early 20s would have been significantly different -- mainly I would have been able to save and plan for my future. However, like an increasing number of college graduates, I faced a decreasing number of career opportunities -- the price I paid for education only further confounded the growing surplus problem of those in need of employment.
I graduated in 2005 in information systems and 2009 with an MBA in Finance. I can only imagine the fright and plight if I was approaching graduation today. There were some difficult moments, but I consider myself to be a student loan success story, though I loathe them.
I am glad I took out loans, and it is my goal to pay them off as soon as possible; the plan is in five years. Loans helped me achieve the life that I currently enjoy as a financial analyst; I just don't know if the actual education was worth the cost, though it was a necessary cost. Without delving fully into the societal shifts I feel are necessary, the fact is clear: If you want certain careers you have to pay for and earn your piece of paper. Working and having help would be the best avenues, but you can't blame PaySallie for offering the services you use.
If you have alternatives, I would advise using any and all of them, but unfortunately it is highly unlikely the average American will ever be able to matriculate without student loans. Most will end up like me and have to cover all of your normal expenses as well as $500 in monthly loan payments.
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