Monday, March 5, 2012

Student Debt

Happy Women's Money Week!

Let me start off by saying that I am a Mechanical Engineer. This seems to cause most people to imply that I am smart. I would like to think that that is a true assumption. But if someone were to take a look at the amount of student debt that I have - they would probably think otherwise.

I was not very brilliant when I was in my teens and getting ready to go off to college - a very great, but expensive private school - to get my engineering degree. My parents did not help me financially at all with college, and as a youngster I did not feel the need to apply for scholarships. I thought that any scholarship that required me to write an essay about some dumb topic, either relevant or irrelevant to my life, was not worth my time or effort. I hated, absolutely despised, writing essays.
I did receive a few small scholarships, academic scholarships from the college, and federal aid, but they did not really make a dent in the $30K to $40K price tag. It also did not help that most, if not all, of the federal aid was in the form of loans. So despite everyone in the US thinking that is "free" money, it is a loan, you need to pay it back, and they happen to be the highest interest rate loans in my bunch.

I'm not trying to complain about anything here. I want to help shed some light on the student financial situation in the US today. When I graduated with my bachelor degree about a year ago I had almost $110K in student loan debt. Thank God that I did not have any credit card or other personal debt or else my situation would have been much more bleak.

I had a total of 5 different companies, federal and private, that owned my loans. I paid one off as soon as I graduated because it was a small loan and had a wopping 9% interest rate. So now I am left with 2 federal loans and 2 private loan companies. I can't consolidate because you cannot consolidate federal and private loans together.

It isn't really all the different payments I have to make a month that I struggle with. I struggle with the fact that if I don't start overloading on payments and applying every bonus, raise, tax refund, etc. to these massive student loans - I may be paying on them for over 20 years!

I loved my school, I love the experience I had there, I love the education I received and the job it got me, I do not love being in debt.

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