I could write a book on student loan debt troubles and my personal experience with various banks and financial struggles, but I don’t think I will. It is the most frustrating thing ever, and I’d probably just get really mad and tear up the pages. From time to time I have to rant because there is not much else I can do about it.
Here is today’s post written as an advice article for college kids:
While I am not a financial advisor, I do have a lot of experience in this area, mainly because I owe enough money for two degrees. My monthly payments are equivalent to mortgage payments and I can barely afford to pay rent for the one bedroom apartment I am living in. I’ve struggled greatly in finding a job that paid more than $15 an hour. Of course, I have settled for jobs that paid less than that, but when your debt to income ratio is as disproportionate as mine, the salary is not enough to manage it. Not to be negative, but neither graduate school I went to was entirely honest about this process. First, we are convinced that we’ll land fantastic jobs, in our specific fields, within six months of graduation. Oh, how I wish that was reality. The job market should be compared to an active battlefield with landmines all over the place just waiting for us to step on. So many of us have faced lay-offs, large gaps of unemployment, emergencies that prevent us from working, and many other difficulties that sometimes loan repayment is close to impossible. However, these banks are not as forgiving as one would hope given our economy. They each promise that they will help you once you are in repayment, but it’s not entirely true. The banks will help you only if you have a stable job. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, the private banks will tell you anything to get you to pay from threatening lawsuits to forcing bankruptcy to suggesting a pitiful grocery list. One bank representative told me to buy Ramen Noodles only to keep up with my payment that had jumped from $350 per month to $800 per month after a six-month gap of unemployment. I am still struggling with this bank.
Anyway, I do hope that you get a job in your field, but I encourage you to keep an open mind about finding a job. Second, prepare for the future now. If you are working, it would be a good idea to make payments toward your loans, in any amount, and commit to doing so every month. It may not seem like much, but it does make a difference once you are in repayment. Also, start looking for jobs now and sign up for any volunteer or internship opportunities at places where you want to work. We always have to prove our worth to others, and this is a way you can get your face, skill set, and work ethic in front of potential employers. You will have less stress later on. If you’re not working because you’re taking a full course load, I encourage you to make room for either vocational/trade or some other type of career course that will be directly related to a job. For example, skills in computers, English, communications, public speaking, business and financial management, will always be important to any job, so take the time to learn these extra skills now while you are already in the academic setting. Of course you learn a lot on the job, but your resume will be more marketable. Another possibility could be for you to take some foundation courses at a community college either during your school breaks or before starting the work toward your degree. If you can transfer those credits, you will save money on tuition and you will free up your schedule to get a job or an internship.
If your future plans include medical or law school, do a lot of research first and talk to current students. Most law schools grade on a curve, which originally sounds like a good idea unless you are not at the top of your class. You could lose your scholarship because of it, which happened to me. Since I had prior GPAs of 3.94 and 3.82, I assumed that maintaining a 3.0 GPA in law school would be easy; but, the C average grading curve dropped my GPA to way below a 3.0, and it took two more years to try to bring it back up. If I attended a school that had a B curve, I would have been able to keep my scholarship, and I’d be in debt by $15,000 less. Even if you won’t have much in loan debt, saving for your future will always be beneficial: take your spending money, like for beer or shopping or going out to eat, and put at least half of it into a savings account. We never know what will happen in the future, and if there’s a way for you to have financial security, you’ll be so relieved that you saved anything. I did not do that, and I regret it every time the creditors call.