‘North Korea and student loan debt have this in common: both are difficult to get out of.’
North Korea and student loan debt have this in common: both are difficult to get out of.
At the time of writing, my student loan debt sits over $40,000, divided up into three different loans, which are owned by three different companies. During the five years of owning this debt, those three different loans have changed more hands than I can remember.
When a loan changed hands, which happened frequently and suddenly, all I received was a simple email – no call or letter – just one email that told me who bought it and how I could now access it. If that email ended up in a spam folder, which happened on more than one occasion, all knowledge of the loan disappeared. This left me wondering where my loan debt went and why it had so suddenly disappeared, only to realize later that I was now late paying it off with the new owner.
My monthly minimal student loan payment sits around $450. But if I followed this recommended amount, I’d be in debt for another 30+ years. Since I actually want to enjoy my life and do something other than remain financially enslaved, I pay $800 per month, which shortens my payment period to 5+ years. Still a large chunk of time, but that’s the price of a mistake, I suppose.
I say my student loan debt is a mistake because I now know there are more financially viable options for attending college. For example, I would not have attended a private college for a liberal arts degree. Instead, I would recommend everyone to take advantage of the community college system, at least for the first two years. Get the general education requirements out of the way, use that time to burn through your energetic youth, and then get ready for an expensive two years at a university.
Also – and I say this from experience - do not be afraid to drop out of college. This may sound anti-intellectual, but I am in no way advocating for individuals to not attend college. Furthering your knowledge of a subject is a great, great thing – the best, in fact – but you must understand that learning a subject from a college or university comes with a hefty price tag. And that price tag must eventually be paid back. If you feel the financial strain is too much, do not drown yourself within the murky red ink of debt, especially if your degree is not financially viable. Drop out, give yourself time to financially recoup, and then head back for more intellectual advancements. It worked for me.
The continual demand of my student loan debt may seem like a terrible thing – I mean, I called it financial enslavement earlier – but I have come to accept it as a generally positive part of my life. The need to meet those financial constraints has pushed me, both mentally and physically, to be a more productive citizen. Yes, I am a college dropout, one with loads of student loan debt, but the lack of a degree has not stopped me from being a successful individual; the lack of a degree and the looming mountain of student debt force me to stand out from the mainstream crowd. My skills much be sharper and more marketable than the competition, for the lack of a college degree is becoming a rarity.
Regardless, I anticipate the day when I can enjoy the financial byproduct of my work efforts, instead of promising them to some large corporation. What an absolute bliss it must be to look at a paycheck and say, “This is mine, and I’ve earned this for myself.”
Five more years.
Dale R., East Providence, RI