Student Loans

Alumni Giving Season

It’s the holiday season again, which means it’s that time of year when universities try to raise more money from their alumni. Every year around this time, I start getting a call every day from an unknown number. At first, I ignore it, thinking it’s a wrong number. But I eventually realize that it’s someone calling from one of the universities I’ve attended and that they are not going to stop until they talk to an actual person.

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Beating a Student Loan Lender at Their Own Game

It’s rare to hear stories about college students taking out private student loans from a lender like Sallie Mae and then beating them in court after being hounded and sued for money after defaulting on the loans. I was able to lock-in low interest rates on the private student loans I took out, but Stefanie Gray wasn’t able to get a cosigner on her loans (both her parents passed away when she was younger) and was given “credit card-like interest rates.” That was the beginning of Gray’s troubles, but this story has a happy ending.

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The Vote That Could Cut Your Student Loan Bills

Student loan debt is exploding. It has grown so much and so fast that it not only crushes millions of young people, but it also has started to weigh down our entire economy. Total nationwide student debt now stands at $1.2 trillion, more than the total credit card debt owed by everyone in America.

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How It Feels to Pay Off $70,000 in Debt

By the time I finished my master’s degree in 2011, that “nonissue” undergrad loan had grown to $20,000, and I had $50,000 of brand-new debt to pile on top of it. This felt like a real, burdensome amount of money that I owed now. My first bill informed me that I was saddled with minimum monthly payments of roughly $700 for the next 10 years, with an astoundingly high portion going to interest.

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Spending Three Years in College, Rather Than Four, to Save Money

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is now the president at Purdue University, and rather than raise tuition to make up for state cuts on college funding and rising administrative costs, he’s frozen tuition for the first time in 36 years and looking for ways to save (it should be noted that as governor, Daniels cut millions in state higher education funding, so he knows that to keep tuition from rising, he’ll have to find savings from the inside). Daniels has started by cutting the cost of student food by 10 percent and consolidating administrative jobs, but according to the Wall Street Journal, Daniels is also considering what students actually get out of college and encouraging departments to devise a program where students can graduate within three years, instead of four.

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Catching a Break After Years of Barely Making Ends Meet

For the last seven years, I’ve been an adjunct professor of writing at three different institutions, while raising three kids mostly on my own. At the University of Oregon, that meant an annual, full-time salary of $27,000, though they offered me great benefits. At other schools, my salary ranged from $2,000/class to $4,000/class, though my cap was typically four or five classes a year, and never any work in the summer. This meant many summers (which would sometimes stretch to fall) on food stamps supplemented with a few trips to the food bank. It meant shopping at Goodwill, borrowing money from my mom or brother, floating checks, free lunch applications, payday loans. It also meant that I relied on friends for non-monetary help, too: picking up my kids from theater or chess, or getting groceries after I had back surgery, or just letting me vent and worry aloud about how hard it was to make ends meet.

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A $124,421 Student Debt Story

There are a lot of student loan stories out there, but what I particularly liked about Matlin’s story was how thoughtful he and his parents were about the debt. This isn’t a “I didn’t realize I would be graduating with a six-figure debt burden” story—Matlin and his parents made the calculations when he was a senior in high school, and Matlin considered going to a state school to save money before ultimately choosing Tufts as an early decision student.

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One Year After I Faced My Student Loan Default

Last year I wrote a piece about how I finally faced the fact that my defaulted student loans weren’t going anywhere, and the surprisingly simple process I embarked upon to rehabilitate them. Now, 13 months after I made the first steps towards remedying my financial situation—mustering the courage to face my creditors, actually picking up the phone and asking for help, committing to slowly paying my debt back despite a not so lucrative salary—I am proud to say that my student loans have been successfully rehabilitated and I am no longer in default. I may be one of the only people in America to be thrilled that I owe Sallie Mae a large chunk of my hard earned cash. It’s amazing how perceptions can change when you finally owe semi-shady student loan overlords a boatload of money rather than completely ruthless and unrelenting run-of-the-mill debt collectors. It’s the little things that make me proud of how far I’ve come.

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President Obama to Students: Be Smart, Not Cynical

President Barack Obama joined David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, for a live chat about student debt Tuesday. One-third of Americans who applied for an educational loan this year also have a Tumblr account, said Karp, who fielded questions about educational costs submitted by Tumblr users. Here’s what POTUS had to say to today’s students.

My student debt was manageable, unlike yours.

Obama said that when he graduated with an undergraduate degree he was able to pay off his student loan debt in a year with a job that wasn’t particularly high paying. But today student loan balances average about $30,000.

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Is Debt Management Just Part of Being an Adult?

Following up on Josh’s post, “We Need a New Kind of Financial Advice,” I’d like to posit the following, to be taught in all schools and financial literacy courses immediately:

For most of us, debt management is part of being an adult.

Right now, the standard financial advice is get out of debt immediately because debt is bad. Or, the more nuanced version: because the longer it takes to pay off your debts, the more you have to pay in interest.

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