16 People Explain How Much Student Loan Debt They Have & Exactly How It Affects Their Lives
If you've gone to college, or you're considering going to college, you're already well aware of one of the biggest roadblocks. No, not early morning classes. The other thing. No, not how to cure a hangover the fastest. The other, other thing. Yes! The money. People with student loan debt will tell you the price tag on college is no joke; and while it's fairly easy to obtain the money in the first place, it's the years (and years) of paying it back after graduation that will haunt your dreams at night. What does life look like with student loan debt? The question was posed on Reddit, and some of the responses might leave you stunned.
As of this year, the average student loan debt for graduates is $30,000 — but that doesn't mean they'll end up repaying $30,000. Thanks to interest, that number goes up even more. For a federal direct loan, for instance, the typical interest rate is four percent. Overall, that would take your $30,000 debt to $36,448. Bear in mind that your minimum monthly payment would go up, too.
Many graduates understandably assume that right out of college, with their hard-earned degree, they'll get a job, and fast. But that's not always the case. In fact, it's often not.
On average, it takes graduates six months to find a job. Meanwhile, that interest is collecting, you owe your monthly payments, food, rent, gas, and every other life expense — all with no paycheck. This makes for a challenging life for many young people out of college.
What happens from there varies. While same people find a suitable job and make their finances work, others will continue to have financial struggles well into adulthood. Here's how these 16 Redditors are doing with their debts and budgeting.
1. Paying $900 A Month Just For Interest
Imagine it: paying nearly a grand just to have the balance stay the same every month. It feels like throwing away money. But let's talk about how amazing it is that this person got out of $144,000 of debt in less than five years. (For reference, some research has shown that it takes borrowers an average of 21 years to pay off a bachelor's degree.)
2. Something In You Dies A Little
Many of us can relate to this. Sure, you might be able to make the payment; and that's a huge relief in and of itself. But then you start thinking about other things that money could easily go toward — a safer car, better health insurance (or... any health insurance at all), name brand toilet paper — and you want to cry a little.
3. Doing Pre-Reqs At A Local Community College
Big, fancy universities don't want you to know this, because then you'll take your money elsewhere. But completing your pre-reqs at a community college is one of the *best* things you can do for yourself and your future. If you spend your first two years doing your pre-reqs at a community college, you could save anywhere from $12,000 to $66,000, compared to a state or private school. (Just make sure the credits will all transfer.)
4. Serving The Country
Don't think this person got a free ride. Serving and getting your tuition covered in exchange is more than deserved.
5. Staying Employed And Monitoring Expenses
When money is tight, you learn to be really careful with it. Track your spendings, budget everything out, and try to always have some source of income, whatever that may be.
6. Well Into The Six Digits
It's frustrating to know that someone spent years in school learning how to care for other people, and they'll be financially punished for it for many years to come. The average total student loan debt for graduating physicians (include their undergraduate) is $207,000 — shocking.
7. Living Where You Don't Pay Interest
That sounds like heaven on earth. For Americans, interest is probably the biggest reason why we can never catch up. Not having to pay interest sounds like a vacation, or Christmas morning.
8. A Good, Albeit Financially Tight, Life
If you can pay rent for your own place and eat three meals a day, you're already ahead of the game. The Pew Research Center has found that as of 2016, more 18- to 34-year-olds live at home with their parents than other living arrangements. They're staying home longer, too: Indeed found that 36 percent of graduates plan to live with their parents at least a year after graduating.
Even with your own place, some of the sacrifices you have to make along the way stink pretty bad.
9. When Dad Makes It All Possible
Good for you, bowtiefridays, for being grateful — a lot of people aren't this lucky.
10. Loans Are Dangerous
This is so important, and not enough people are talking about it. Why do we give teenagers so much power? They're too young to have a sip of alcohol, but they're responsible enough to borrow potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars?
11. Life's Pretty Good
This person has it figured out. They get to travel and they're worth more overall than their debts? That's seriously impressive.
12. Living Paycheck To Paycheck
This is the unfortunate reality millions of people in this country face — half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Your degree is supposed to prevent you from ending up in this position — not be what puts you there.
13. Living Frugally To Pay It All Off
Relative to how long it takes some of us to pay our student loans off, five years is nothing. Way to prioritize your debt, friend.
14. Declaring Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is here to help people when they think they don't have any other way out; that doesn't make it easy, though.
15. The Biggest Regret
16. Putting Your Foot Down
This has to be the most epic approach to student loan debt ever. Haven't we all fantasized about stopping paying altogether? Can't say how this one is going to end, but it's a nice daydream, at least.