A year ago I never would have felt comfortable sharing my personal debts with anyone. I was ashamed of the amount of debt I got myself into by going to a for-profit school. I was ignorant about student loans and I buried myself in a heap of inescapable debt that just kept growing.
With the help and support from the Facebook group, ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com, I discovered things about my debts, particularly my student loans, that I’d never even (but should have) heard before. This for-profit school had me take out private student loans before I even touched the federal loans. Up until 2011, two years after graduating, I was under the impression that the first loans I took out were federal because “Sallie Mae was their preferred federal lender.” Silly me, I didn’t know the difference until I found the FSLD group and really dove deep into finding out all I could about the mess I got myself into. I found another FB group who had also fallen victim to the same for-profit scam as I had. All these people with massive student loan debt too. I wasn’t alone. They made me feel more comfortable about becoming educated on the subject of student loans and speaking out about what I really owed.
There are often posts in these groups about reporters looking for people willing to share their student loan debt stories. Several months ago I felt bold enough to volunteer my story. A reporter contacted me and wrote an article about my loans. When the story came out, I didn’t share it on my Facebook wall. I still felt embarrassed about admitting the amount of student loan debt I had to my family and friends outside of these groups.
Today is a different story. I’m letting it all hang out. Here is that story the reporter did. I’m not hiding anymore!
I do consider going to the Art Institute to be the biggest mistake of my life. That school, the debt, sucked the passion out of art for me. I’m not really good at anything else and now I just feel extreme anxiety whenever I try to start a project. My creativity is chained to that debt. It’s been weighing on me heavily lately. It’s very burdensome knowing these loans will pretty much never go away. No matter how much I make (when I do have a job again), 100% of my income will go towards my student loans. Forever. I feel like a slave.
I’ve been stressed a lot lately and realize a lot of my issues could be solved by winning the lottery. I had an emotionally draining experience imagining all the things I could do with just $100,000 in winnings. My stress melted away and my eyes lit up with joy. And then reality slapped me in the face. It hurt. That was the moment I realized that I am desperate to get out of debt. So I created this blog. I’m going to chronicle my efforts to pay off my debt as quickly as possible because 22 more years (or more) is NOT an option anymore! I will no longer let this debt consume my happiness!
Here’s a breakdown of what I owe in student loan debt:
I originally borrowed about $79,000 for tuition, textbooks/supplies and housing.
I currently owe about $96,500.
About $55,900 of that is federal loans currently on the Income Based Repayment plan, and I pay $0 since I’m currently unemployed.
The rest ($40,600) is in private loans and all but $4,025 of that is tied to a co-signer.
After 3 years of payments, we’ve paid more than $13,000 and only $2,500 has gone towards the principal.
My co-signer and my father help make the payments each month on my private loans. I am currently unemployed but looking for work. Any income I make from now until forever will go towards paying these horrid things off! My husband is in the Navy and supports both of us. At this time I do not want my husband paying on my debts. I got into this mess before we even met and he has his own debt to pay off. I will hopefully find a job soon and will start looking at other creative ways to make some extra money.
I also have credit card debt of $1,470 and $4,650. I was unemployed for a year and a half after graduating and had to rely on my credit cards. I came close to maxing them out. Since that time I’ve paid two of them off completely. I cancelled my Bank of America card after they wanted to charge me an annual fee. I continue to pay on that but it will be done and gone once I’ve paid it off. I got a new card earlier this year and was surprised at the limit I was given. Apparently my credit isn’t as bad as I thought. I’ve never missed a payment or been late on any of my debts, so my credit continues to grow. Hooray!
Overall debt starting today is a whopping $102,645. Eep!
Here’s how I plan on attacking this debt in order (will pay more than minimum on the ones up top):
- StudentLoan#1: $7,160 – At least $150 more than minimum payment (plus whatever extra money I am given or generate).
- CreditCard#1: $4,650 – $120 payments ($400+ payments once one of husband’s debts is paid off. This card has 0% APR until April and we used this card for a trip out to California so I could finally meet my husband’s family after over a year and a half of being married.)
- CreditCard#2: $1,470 – $120 payments
- StudentLoan#2: $11,200 – minimum payment
- StudentLoan#3: $18,240 – minimum payment
- StudentLoan#4NoCosigner: $4,025 – minimum payment
- FedLoans: $55,900 – $0 payments as long as income is low or until I pay off all debts above.
My first priority is paying off the smallest student loan that has a co-signer. I figure once the top three debts are paid off, I can really start attacking those larger private loans that have a co-signer. It’s vital I get my co-signer released from the burden of MY debt. Best advice ever: Co-signer=BAD! Don’t co-sign anything and don’t ever get something you need a co-signer for!
Becoming debt free will be a challenge. Basically, it’s up to me to get a job and find creative ways to make money and pay off this debt since I don’t want my husband to pay my debts (except for the credit card we used to go to California).
Some goals I have for getting debt free ASAP:
- Within 2 months: Brainstorm/begin new and creative ways to make extra money.
- Within 3 months: Have a job, even if it’s part-time minimum wage.
- Within 4-6 months: Learn to love to create art again. Update my portfolio. Build a website and start freelancing!
- 6 months to a year: Credit cards paid off!
- 1 year: Smallest private loan with co-signer paid off!
- 3-5 years: Have all private loans paid off!
- 10-15 years: Federal loans paid off.
It will be a long journey but I’m balls to the wall about making this happen!