Monday, May 23, 2016

Getting the bill...

I graduated!  **Cue Pomp and Circumstance**

I passed all of my classes, did the whole cap and gown thing, and... oh yea, spent 30 minutes learning all about how far in debt I'll be in a few weeks.

Yea, I'm getting straight to the point with this one: kind of like how my exit counseling session got straight to the point in giving me the bottom number.  In bold characters, no less.

Over the course of 30 minutes, I was bombarded with words that made absolutely no sense to me.  For something that was supposed to clear everything up, I excited the counseling session with more questions than answers.

How am I that far in debt?

Wait... Who's my loan provider?

How am I going to pay for this?

10 YEARS to pay it off? And that's AFTER I finish graduate school?

Why would anyone do something that'd put them so far into debt?!

Oh! I know!

How about this 'American Dream' we're all told is so amazing?  Well this dream is pushing me into a pretty heavy debt, and I'm not the only one.  According to The Institute for College Access and Success, 69% of seniors who graduated from public/nonprofit colleges in 2014 had an average of $28,950 in student loan debt per borrower.

You know what's even more devastating?  Going to a private university and being over that average.

I get it: "Nothing good comes free" or "If it was free, everyone would do it".  First and foremost, I think everyone should have the right to higher education {end of story}.  Second, I'm really not against paying for my schooling.  But seriously?  There has to be some kind of breaking point.

I can't believe this 'American Dream' we're all told about is turning into the 'American Nightmare' for myself and so many other students.  I've panicked.  I've cried.  I've even laughed.  I've felt sadness, anger, denial, and hopelessness.

If you're here to get advice on how to pay for your student loans; I'm definitely not the person you want to talk to.  I've taken the cowardly way by prolonging those first payments for another year and a half by getting my master's.  I can, however, give you a little advice on how to deal with the stress and anxiety student loans can cause.  As I said previously, I have experienced a lot of emotions due to the bill I was handed.  Fortunately, none of them included regret.

You hear that America?! With your ridiculous interest rates and higher education costs?  YOU CAN'T MAKE ME REGRET THESE CHOICES!

Because even though I'm going to be paying loans back for the next ten to fifteen years; I invested in four years that have changed my life and created opportunities for me that I would have never had doing something else.  I met some really amazing and inspiring people, I left the country, I found my passion in communication studies, and I got the opportunity to continue to graduate school.  If I'm going to drop 5-figures on anything; it's going to be on education.

While growing up my dad would always say, "No one can take away your education."  The reason I take school so seriously is because I know that it's 100% mine.  My paper degree could get stolen ripped, or burnt; but those four years of education impacted me far outside the value of a meager piece of paper.

And I'm positive it impacted you the same way.  Whether it took you three years, four years, or six years to graduate: you did not make a mistake by investing in your education.  Paying-off students loans isn't going to be easy, and I'm positive it's going to be put me in some horrible moods; but I refuse to let that number turn a dream into a nightmare.

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