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How much student loan debt do you have?

Poll Results: How much student loan debt do you have?

  • 49% (117)
    $0 - $10,000
  • 14% (35)
    $10,001 - $20,000
  • 14% (34)
    $20,001 - $40,000
  • 6% (16)
    $40,001 - $60,000
  • 6% (15)
    $60,001 - $80,000
  • 3% (9)
    $80,001 - $100,000
  • 4% (10)
    $100,001 or more
236 Total Votes  
post #1 of 93
Thread Starter 
I read recently that the average college graduate has about $20,000 of student loan debt, and I thought, wow, the average college graduate is one lucky dog. But I couldn't believe it--I don't know anyone (except those whose parents paid for their education) who has debt that low! Is that really an accurate number?

I know this poll doesn't take into account whether you've already finished your degree, have or are working on another degree, went to a state or private school, already had children while you were in school, etc. But as of right now--how much student loan debt do you have? If you want to participate, it'd be great if you'd answer the above questions in your comment.

I'll go first: I have $60,000 in student loan debt from my undergrad ALONE. Despite the fact that I went to a state school. I took a few years off after my freshman year to travel around and "find myself", and I found out I was pregnant right after I went back for my sophomore year. So I took another two years off to raise my babe. After I went back to school again, I relied heavily on loans to pay for daycare for my daughter and to live on, as well, since I didn't want to work AND go to school and squeeze time in with my daughter here and there.

Looking back, taking out all those loans was a stupid, stupid idea. But what's the better solution for someone who already has kids while they're in school? Should I have worked while I was in school to avoid some of that debt? Financially, probably. But I would probably make the same decision if I was in that boat all over again. (The best solution, obviously, is to not have kids until you're done with school, but that isn't a reality for many of us, and not even desired by many of us.)

I'm now working on my postgraduate degree--and racking up more loans (!).

So what about you? If you had children before you were done with your degree, did that add to your student loan debt? What ways did you avoid taking out more loans? How do you feel about it?
post #2 of 93
I've been out of school for quite a while so I now *only* have $19k

I started with ~$50k
post #3 of 93
My DH and I graduated from college in 2008. Neither of has ever had any school debt.

To put that in context: DH went to the US Coast Guard Academy, which is a military academy, so that was all paid for and now he's an officer in the Coast Guard. That came with a 6 year commitment, but now we have a 13 year commitment because of flight training. He loves it, though, so that is no problem for us.

I went to a state school. I paid for all but $2,000 of my Bachelor's degree with merit-based scholarships. My parents were able to chip in the remaining $2,000 I needed freshman year. By senior year, I made more in scholarships and internships than I spent, so I could have paid them back if they had wanted me to do that.

I imagine that I will want to go back to school again at some point for a master's degree, but we'll use DH's GI Bill to pay for that.
post #4 of 93
approx $35 here, and that was before my state univerisity tripled tuition. When I started school, I was paying $3200 for the year. When I graduated, it was up to abou $7000. I hear now it's just under $10.

I was thinking I might go back when DS2 is a little older, so I can get either a second bachelors or my masters. At least if I do that, I can stop paying the loans back! Actually, I'm in forbearance for hardship right now...I am unemployed.
post #5 of 93
Thread Starter 
I should have made that $1-$10,000 instead of using a zero! I'm happy to hear there are people out there who were able to avoid loans entirely--that's awesome!

Also, looks like I'm the outlier at this point. Maybe that statistic was pretty accurate after all!
post #6 of 93
No, my total debt load for undergrad and grad school is over 100K. I went to school in my late 20's early 30's and while I wish I had not racked up the debt the fact is my degrees have opened doors.

I know plenty of other folks with high debt levels, most of us don't talk about it so I doubt you are an outlier. It's just that people tend to think gee, you spent that kind of money and you aren't a doctor or lawyer? lol
post #7 of 93
My parents paid for all of my schooling and I went to a state school. DH went to a private school and graduated with about $15000 worth of debt. His mom paid for as much as she could and he had some excellent scholarships. There were a couple thousand dollars each quarter that he had to take a loan out for. A few years ago MIL surprised us by saying that she felt that debt was hers and she paid it all off.
post #8 of 93
I have about $25,000 all in federal loans from an undergraduate and a master's degree. I had a full scholarship for the master's, so those costs are mainly childcare, whereas the undergrad loans covered childcare and tuition.

With the Income Based Repayment plan, my monthly payment is currently ZERO and won't go over $100/month unless I completely changed fields and tripled my salary. Plus, after 10 years of working in a non-profit or public service field, all my loans will be forgiven. Student loans do NOT have to be crippling debt! Private student loans, OTOH, not a good idea...

If you want to learn more about the IBR plan, check out this website.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan is here too.
post #9 of 93
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by atobols View Post
A few years ago MIL surprised us by saying that she felt that debt was hers and she paid it all off.
Wow, that's amazing! I feel really strongly about paying for my kids' education (and it's one reason I hesitate to have another child). Not because I feel like I *have* to--I don't feel like my parents owe me my tuition--but because I don't want my kids to be saddled with this massive debt before entering the world. I hope all this education will pay off one day and I'll be able to afford their schooling.
post #10 of 93
My cousin just graduated from a very expensive private school and she has $20,000 in student loan debt, which I think isn't bad at all.

I didn't have any debt when I graduated from the same college but I knew a lot people had $30,000+ and that was more than 15 years ago.

From what I hear from recent graduates, $50,000 and above is not unusual. A nurse's aid at my doctor's office graduated from the same college I did and she can't get a job in her field (sociology) and pay her loans. She works as an EMT as a second job to pay her loans. In her field, she needs a masters to get any decent paying job.
post #11 of 93
$15,000 to my parents for my masters degree. My parents gave my sister and I each a set sum with which to go to college for our undergrad degrees. I had the option of going to an expensive Ivy League school or going to the state university. It turned out the state university had a really strong program in my area of interest, so I went there with some scholarship money and a few PT jobs. My parents' gift covered pretty much everything. I got a full ride for my masters, but it came with a FT internship, so my parents loaned me the money to cover rent and groceries and all that for the length of the program.
post #12 of 93
I started with just under $10K and now about 4 years later have around $5K. DH still has almost $10K. We went to the same school and graduated at the same time (though I was there a year earlier than him, I got 2 degrees) and he got a lot more financial aid but I got a few great scholarships & lived in an apartment off-campus so my total loans were less than half of his. I swear meal plans and dorms are where our school made all their profits!! I worked 3 jobs & went with no heat in the dead of winter but still ended up with some loans in the end.

I was considering some Ivy League schools and ended up going to a state school because it was the only one that would accept me without a HS diploma (I left HS after my junior year) and if I had gone elsewhere or transferred like I planned to, I would've ended up with huge loans (and never met my DH...) and who knows what degree(s) I would've ended up with, since I changed majors about 6 times...
post #13 of 93
I have about $1600 I still owe to my college but that's it. (extra classes I took and didn't finish because I got pregnant). I was [I]very[I] lucky that my grandmother left me money to pay off my loans when she passed. I would never be able to pay them now if she hadn't done that.
post #14 of 93
I've been out of school for 13 years so mine was paid off quite a while ago.
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post #15 of 93
$0 here. I went to community college and worked my way through nursing school. I was supposed to go to grad school this fall and would of taken out about $30,000 in loans for that by the time it was done but then life intervened and that has been put on hold for now.
post #16 of 93
I didn't vote because ours is all paid off.

My parents started saving for college in 1970 when they got married. They didn't even have me until a decade later. In 1998 I started college, and with all their savings they were able to pay for one year.

When DH and I graduated, we owed a total of $87k between us. He had gotten a lot more aid than I did, since his family had a lower income. My family was in between being able to get aid and being able to afford it. So most of the loans were mine.

When we graduated, we lived on the tightest budget possible for years to get out of debt before starting a family. We rented a relative's basement for $150/month plus my labor cleaning for the relative. We never did anything fun with our friends. Our entertainment budget was $4 a month, which was the cost of having a second cable box in the same house. Every once in a while we would splurge on a $10 video game from the bargain bin.

Finally in 2006, 5 years after graduating, we had paid it all off and moved into our own apartment and planned to start a family.
post #17 of 93
I graduated as a Nurse too, first through community college and then went on to get a degree from university.

I don't have any debt though because I worked 2 jobs all though school and even though I had my own apartment, I went home a lot for "supplies". Dh went through several years of accounting school and in the end he racked up roughly $10,000 worth of debt. Between our pooled savings and monetary wedding gifts we paid them off shortly after we got married. All this was 10 years ago.
post #18 of 93
Mine is paid off, but it was about $3K for my undergrad degree. I had several merit based scholarships and I worked the entire time I was in college. DH's parents paid for his college.
post #19 of 93
DH has about 18K i think. the smaller loan we will pay off because the payments are high. the larger loans we will just keep making the monthlies since it's a fixed low rate and low payments. DH regrets going to school (art school/illustration) since it's pretty useless and now he has to pay all of it back although he has paid off half
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post #20 of 93
i am hugely fortunate to not have any loans (nor did i ever). my first year of university was paid for half by my parents and half on my own (which included some scholarships). the next 5 years, i (and dh) paid for. dh was not in school at the same time as i was (due to other circumstances). we lived somewhat frugally for the time that i was in school but never felt like we had to make *huge* sacrifices; i worked extremely part time (4-10 hours per week). for us, it just worked out. i am definitely very fortunate that life happened the way it did otherwise we'd have 60+ just from physio school!
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