Please talk to me about student loans - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 03:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I'd like to hear about your experiences with student loans --- if you are comfortable answering any or all of the following questions:

1. What types of loan(s) have you taken out?
2. How much do you have in student loans?
3. If you regret taking out loan(s) what would you have done differently?
4. Were/are you able to make your payments after graduation?

I am in a situation where I will probably be taking out between 10000 and 15000 (total) in student loans over the next 2 years. I'm terrified. I have a real fear of debt but everyone keeps telling me it will be okay, this is an okay type of debt and I'm not going to be taking out too much. I still can't stop being terrified, though, because I hear all these horror stories, like the one about the 24 NYU graduate who has 275k in student loans and no job! I'd like to hear some real life mothers' experiences . . .

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#2 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 04:35 AM
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I have a BA in economics from a state university, and I did not take out any student loans to get it. I decided to go back to school to become a nurse (current student) and I am not taking out any student loans. Personally, for the amount of money you're talking about, I would rather take an extra year to finish school, take fewer classes per semester, and graduate with no student debt. You could use the extra time out of school each week to work a little more and pay as you go. Most schools offer some kind of payment plan where you can pay your tuition in two or three installments if you don't have the cash up front. I know this is not the popular opinion though so I'm interested in seeing what others have to say.
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#3 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 02:25 PM
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Take out a loan (only federal student loan - not private), don't work, and go to school full time. When you take a long time to get a degree and are not focussing on school, you are not getting all you can from the education, IMHO.

After we came back from the Peace Corps, my husband went back to school full time to get an MBA while I worked. When he finished, he had ~$40,000 in student loans. The interest rate was around 3%. We were making monthly payments of $300+ per month until my husband lost his job. If you lose your job, your loan payment gets deferred, so having the loan has not been a hardship for us.
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#4 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 02:29 PM
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1. What types of loan(s) have you taken out?

Federal student loans and Sallie Mae.

2. How much do you have in student loans?

We had almost $20k together (dh and I), and have only paid a little off over 5 years.

3. If you regret taking out loan(s) what would you have done differently?

I don't regret it.

4. Were/are you able to make your payments after graduation?

Yes, sometimes it's tight even on the graduated income payments, but we do it.

I would recommend getting them if you need them to get through school. I could never have done it without being a single mom when I started college. I never finished (I have like ONE semester left!) so wish I could finish, but it was totally worth it.

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#5 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 03:39 PM
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I graduated from undergrad (nursing) with about $3000 in loans. Totally doable, no big deal. The only regret I have there is listening to people say that it was "good debt" and not realizing that it was STILL DEBT. I didn't pay them off quickly (within the first 6 months of working), as I should have.

I then went to a pricey graduate program. For that one, I borrowed the ENTIRE cost of my education, which was aroun $48,000. I also went into about $20,000 credit card debt (mostly for living expenses). I regret those loans A LOT. Looking back, I should have done it differently. Found a state school and gotten residency, worked more (though it was difficult to work during my program due to hours required), and perhaps even have deferred my enrollment for a year or two to save. I was in the mindset of "I have to do this", so I didn't want to put it off. I now wish I had.

I've paid off the credit cards, but the student loans remain.

My dh took out loans for undergrad and grad school. I'm not sure what the undergrad loans were all about. He worked 30 hours a week, lived at home, and went to a state school. I'm not sure where his money went (I didn't know him then). His graduate loans were tuition, and a small amount of living expenses, because I didn't make enough to support us (due to the minimums on my outrageous student loans and credit cards). So, my student loan debt had a farther reaching effect that pushed us into loans for his grad degree.

Looking back, we probably both should have deferred grad school until we could pay cash. We did not get the large boost in income (either of us) that we had hoped for from those degrees.

Our minimum payments are about $750/month, on 30 year notes (there are a total of 4 loans--one is on a 15 year repayment; the others are 30 years). That's a big chunk of our take home every month. In some ways, we don't regret it--education is always a good thing. But, in others, it limits our choices. We have to make sure that dh works a job (I stay home) that makes enough money to pay those payments, you know?

I would think long and hard about loans before you take them out.
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#6 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 03:57 PM
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1. What types of loan(s) have you taken out?

Sounds dumb, but I don't even remember. (I graduated in Dec 2002). We consolidated it all with Sallie Mae except for a small state no-interest loan (which we paid off).

2. How much do you have in student loans?

DH and I had a combined principal of $26k when we consolidated.

3. If you regret taking out loan(s) what would you have done differently?

I'm ok with the fact that I took out loans but still would have done things differently. First, I barely worked at all through college, just summers and it was all basically blow money. If I did it again I would have gotten some on-campus job, computer help desk or cafeteria or something. For ME, I would not have found this distracting from my studies -I hardly had to study anyway.

Next, they just sent me a check every now and then. So the loans covered a lot of my living expenses and not just tuition and books. I actually knew better, every time I deposited a check I'd say to myself "Laohaire, this is more than you need, you should just figure out what you think you need and write a check for the rest." Sigh. I never got around to it. I'm still paying for it.

DH was better than I was - he worked part time, etc. But he didn't get as many grants as I did (I had higher grades, etc.), so the loan is pretty evenly divided between his and mine.

4. Were/are you able to make your payments after graduation?

Yes. Our minimum payment is $165 a month. It's not a lot. I just hate that it will be a weight around our necks for so long - I think it was a 20 year payment? I've been paying it for 7 years, and now we have a plan to pay it off in about 3 more years by paying $510 a month.

My point of view is extremely unpopular, but in our case, our college degree has done squat for us in terms of employment.

DH now works for himself, and not in anything that he learned in college.

I work for a high school dropout (a very smart one). He could not care less about my college degree.

My college degree didn't make me appear, act or actually be any more educated. It's a state college so the name wouldn't impress anyone (I graduated with a 4.0 average - 3.99 actually - but nobody cares). If I went to Brown or something, I have no doubt it would have had a positive effect on my employment (in the right location, industry and economy at least).

I could not have predicted our circumstances but if I could know what I know now and could do it over, I would have dropped out of college after I met my husband there Meeting him was the sole value I got out of college - and a great one!

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#7 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 04:27 PM
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I took out private and federal loans for my professional degree.

I borrowed around $80,000.

I don't regret taking out the loans. I would have been in hog heaven if my mom had paid for it, but, that wasn't happening. Also, in my profession, where you go to school is very closely tied to where you will have the opportunity to work upon graduation. And it paid off.

Upon graduation, I did not consolidate and was able to pay my loans which were in the $1K/month range. I also had two roommates. Then I bought a place and had a roommate there to help. I married 6 years after graduation and finally consolidated because my dh had debt that I wanted to help him with. Some of my loans are now paid off and my monthly payment is very comfortable at around $250.

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#8 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 05:42 PM
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I ended up with about 25K in loans by the time I had finished by BS degree (I also went for about a year to a business school but never finished that program). My payment is about 180 a month. I don't regret the loans because I never would have gotten a degree without them. I don't know what types of loans they were- just filled out the FAFSA and took what I was offered. I do social work so the pay is pretty low however- prior to my degree, I worked retail and restaurants and made less money and had no benefits whatsoever. Totally worth the investment IMO. Just don't spend the money on non-educational things

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#9 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 06:43 PM
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I graduated from college with 13K in federal student loans. I found a job in my field (English major!) and easily paid it back within the ten-year period. I would have been able to pay them off sooner, but I deferred my loan payment for three years while I was in the Peace Corps.

I do not regret taking out those loans for a minute. I wouldn't have a college degree without them.
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#10 of 12 Old 05-28-2010, 09:50 PM
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I graduated with 10K in loans. I paid for everything so I worked nights (2-3 a week) while going to school. But, senior year I could not work as much due to senior design projects, so I had to take out some loans. I went out of state and paid for it, but I got the education I wanted. Having that degree helped me to immediately get a job when I moved cross country.

My payments are about $120 a month.

I don't regret it. Even though I am SAHM, my degree could be useful again to me. We are still paying it off, but I do like the fact that if DH became suddenly unemployed, we could defer them. We are putting our money towards our other debt before we touch these for that very reason.

If you are certain this degree is what you want and you are going to only spend it on school expenses, then I would say do it. It was extremely hard on me to work and do school at the same time. I think it negatively impacted my health long term (and now there are expenses I pay related to that). I wanted to graduate with no loans and it was very hard.

I am glad I only had 10K in debt. I just wish my mom would have let me go to the school I had a full scholarship to. I was a minor (17) and she said "no" and threatened to have me hauled back from the school as a runaway. Nice.....

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#11 of 12 Old 05-29-2010, 01:58 AM
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I took out federal loans. My husband took out both federal and private (neither of our parents could help us with school much at all). Between the two of us, we had about $65,000 (now down to about $55,000).

Seeing as we're a one-income family, making payments of about $500 a month, we do regret taking out so much in school loans. We should have chosen a cheaper college (we went to a small, private school where, looking back, we got a less-quality education at a much higher price). We've consolidated our loans somewhat (not together, and we couldn't throw in my husband's private loans).

We've had some pretty lean times, but we've been able to pay our loans each month. However, we would be much, much better off if that chunk of money each month could go to other things. For the record, we don't have credit card debt, no cell phone or cable, are a one-car family, etc - so we do live very frugally. If we had a more mainstream way of living, we couldn't make it on one income with our school loans. We're trying to pay off the smallest one right now, but things keep coming up each month (medical bills, etc), so it's slow going. Hopefully next year, our tax return can make a dent in one loan as well.

I'd think hard about taking out loans. The financial aid people did NOT explain things very well to either of us, and neither of us were wise enough to question it (I mean, fresh out of high school and all, but still....) I had no clue we'd be paying so much each month. And, if we stick with the schedule and don't pay off any early, it means we'll be done about a year before our son is ready to go to college. I'd like to help our children make better financial decisions than we have, and would also like to make sure that they don't start their adult lives "in the hole" financially.

I know they say that school loans are "good debt", but we could do without so much of it.
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#12 of 12 Old 05-29-2010, 11:24 AM
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Try not to get loans if you don't have to. Look into the women's center at your school and see what scholarships are available to women and mothers. If you qualify for pell grants then you will have some money to live on while you are in school (this is what I am doing). I have about $4500 in student loans, and I do regret it. DH has about 20k, and it's been deffered our entire marriage.

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