Student Loans

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


How I Paid Off Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years

Last weekend, my classmates from Colgate University celebrated our five-year reunion. I am on the other side of the world, in Hong Kong, so I couldn’t join the festivities. Although I was sorry to miss the reunion, I am not sorry to be here. I borrowed nearly $80,000 to join the Colgate Class of 2009. Because I moved to Hong Kong, I am now completely debt-free.


The People Who Can’t Pay Their Student Loans 10 Years After Graduating

If you were to guess what the most popular piece on The Billfold is, what would you say? The story that readers from all over are looking up and reading on a daily basis isn’t about how compounds interest works or the difference between traditional and Roth IRAs—it’s this piece by Anna Moreno, about when she defaulted on her student loans and what she did to get back on track.


A Partial Inventory of Costs Related to an Ill-timed And Semi-failed Career Change

The summer of 2005 was a fine time to be 26 and an even finer time to have a dream. All around me, people were going big by purchasing homes or committing as heavily as they could to can’t-miss ventures or, in a lot of cases, reinventing themselves entirely: friends and colleagues were moving into two-, three- and four-bedroom “smart investments” all across Chicagoland while locked in an arms race with people “chasing the dream” in oddball lines of work to see who could “live more fully.” I, wise young man that I was, set my heart on joining the ranks of the latter.


Cap & Gown Fashion Inspo For All You 2014 Grads

Any Billfolders graduating college come May? Grad school? Commencement-themed porno to participate in? DO THIS. I will be your best friend. Or post a photo of it. SFW only.


Alert: Terrible And Somehow Legal Private Student Loan Provision

Well this is very uncool, via the NYT: “Student Loans Can Suddenly Come Due When Co-Signers Die, a Report Finds.”


‘Working Your Way Through College’ Now Basically a Myth

A few weeks ago when we talked about the guy with 13 kids, I mentioned how I liked the idea of my kids “working their way through college” like my parents did. Many of you were quick to point out that this was no longer feasible, that “working your way through college” now means ‘working your way through college and then also spending the next decade or more paying off your student loans.’ Which, come to think about, is exactly my experience.


Simplifying Student Loan Payments

Karen Weise at Businessweek breaks down a proposal from a group of “student-aid advocacy and research organizations” whose aims are to simplify student loan repayment. The plan includes “auto-IBR,” or automatically enrolling all federal student loan borrowers in a repayment plan based on income, and then collecting payments through an employer withholding system. Whoa now.