Student loans. Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing…
Before I go any further let me say I know I’m not in a dire situation and I appreciate having parents that allow me to live with them. I’m not so much complaining about my situation as I am about the system.
I’ve talked about my finances quite a bit here on this public internet space that will never go away. There are a lot of things I don’t want to talk about here but finances and money is not one of them. It’s one of those topics I think need to be talked about more so they’re not so taboo! Especially student loans.
So here are the facts… I make $50,000 a year. And I can’t move out. This is seriously depressing. What is wrong with today’s system where a person with a Master’s degree making a decent living can’t move out of their parents’ house.
Yes, I know where there is a will there is a way and I can make sacrifices but it really seems insane to me that I should have to make so many sacrifices at my income level to live on my own.
Where does that $50,000 go? Well each month my actual income is about $2760. Let’s break that down (I rounded numbers but most are true to the actual amount).
CC Debt: $400
Car Insurance: $125 (this will go down in August when an accident comes off my record)
Car Payment: $160
Miscellaneous: $175 (this is my discretionary spending and includes clothes, going out, hair cuts, blog expenses… basically anything that isn’t a necessity)
And now for the big one…
Student Loans: $675
That’s about $2350 give or take. I didn’t include all my expenses but those are the big non-changing expenses.
I also work for my Dad a few hours every Saturday and I’m not paid. The money I would be paid goes towards contributing towards household expenses like groceries and utilities. That’s in addition to the $200 I pay every month.
For the most part, I have cut down on any extra spending and have money left in my account every month that I apply towards debt. I recently paid off a credit card with my work bonus and now I am down to only one credit card debt.
But it’s not the CC Debt that bothers me. I see that going down. I’ve paid off two and I’m making a dent in the third. It’s the student loans. Seriously? WTF!
$675 a month towards student loans. I cry every time I check my accounts to make sure a payment isn’t missing. It seems like there is no end in sight. I 100% envy anyone who didn’t pay for their college. The things I could do with that $675 a month… I could rent an apartment… I could save $8100 in a year… I could buy $500 shoes (I wouldn’t).
After I teared up for a bit and felt sorry for myself, I reminded myself (with the help of my bff Becky) that if I wasn’t paying that $675 a month I wouldn’t have had an education and I wouldn’t be where I am.
Then I started researching if there is any way to lower that payment. I actually typed into Google “how to afford student loan payments.” Apparently it’s a fairly common search because Google generated it for me. Good to know I’m not alone.
I thought I’d share here what I found because if I didn’t know these things, you might not either.
1. Student Loan Forgiveness.
Unfortunately I don’t qualify for this, but you might. If you’re a teacher or work in public service, are disabled, or something happened with your school, you may be eligible.
This one is a little more technical so I won’t really go into it, but consolidation is an option. This enables you to combine all of your loans so that you are only making one monthly payment to one company instead of one monthly payment to five different companies. In some cases it might also lower your interest rate and monthly payments. In some cases, it won’t. So it’s something to look at carefully.
3. Deferment and Forbearance.
You can ask to pause your payments for a period of time and in some instances the government will pay your interest. In other cases, though, you are still responsible for accrued interest which means you end up paying more in the end. You can avoid that by at least paying the interest each month. Usually the government will pay if you deferring to continue education, in active military service, or are unemployed. You can apply for forbearance if you are not eligible for a deferment, but again your interst accrues and you end up paying more in the end. You can request a mandatory forbearance, where the lender is required to grant it, in a few situations. One of them being if the total amount you owe each month for all the student loans you received is 20% or more of your total monthly gross income. I actually qualify for this but it’s just delaying the inevitable and I can afford to pay my loans, I just can’t afford to move out.
4. Income-Based Repayment Plan.
Did you know that at certain income levels your monthly payment will be calculated based on your monthly income? I had no idea. And I could have definitely used this in my first few jobs post Graduate school. You will pay more for your loans over time, but you’ll be able to afford it now. This is a relatively new program and definitely worth looking in to.
(There are a few income based payment plans)
5. Extended Repayment Plan.
A standard loan repayment plan is 10 years. You can extend the repayment terms up to 25 years, lowering your monthly payments but increasing the amount you pay over time. Not all loans qualify for this– private loans do not. Citibank does not care how I want to pay, they just want me to pay. But my Stafford loans apply. Your loans must be up to date to qualify (as in no balance due from those few months after graduating when you didn’t realize you needed to start paying your loans…)
This was a really abbreviated basic terms description of what you can do to help pay your student loans but I hope it helped. You can find so much more information and learn more with a simple Google search. I found this site and this one really helpful. The first one is the most detailed and will help you decide if you qualify for certain programs.
I hope this helped you a little bit and that you learned there are options out there.
What’s my game plan? First, I have two loans I need to get up to date from when I didn’t know I had to start paying loans. Woops. My tax return will be going to that. Next, I am going to see if I qualify for an income-based payment plan. Why not? And then I’ll look into extending my loan repayment plan to lower the monthly cost. Once I have all those numbers in front of me I’ll decide what the best plan for me is.
Anything I left out? Any tips you have?