While my friends and peers are drinking rooftop margaritas admiring the city skyline of their choice, I’m working four jobs and living in my hometown with my mom (no shame, though). It sometimes makes me feel like I’m the only one out there with massive amounts of student loan debt, but the stats say otherwise.
When you think of student loans, it’s safe to assume the majority of borrowers are youngin’s like me, just out there trying to put themselves through school and build a better life at literally any cost. However, if I want to start hanging with a crowd who understands my financial stress, I need to start spending time at retirement homes instead of the bars.
Older adults are now the largest growing group in America taking on student loan debt –2.8 million people ages 60+ claim to have at least one. So if there are so many silver foxes out there, where were they during my capstone class senior year?
Well, a lot of these old folks are taking on debt for children or grandchildren of their own, which is a tough burden to carry when their earning potential is lower than ours, especially if they’re already in retirement. For me, I’ll continue to advance in my career and earn more money, even though just *one* of my student loans has a repayment date of 2040. Ouch.
This is a harsh reality for everyone involved. You’re asking for trouble if you have to defer or default on your loans, facing the danger of piling interest, hurting your credit score or even having your assets seized. It’s just that student loans don’t necessarily follow the same rule as a credit card where the saying is to not spend more than your means, blah blah.
If you want yourself, your child or grandchild to have the privilege of earning an advanced degree, you have to invest and prepare for the consequences.
So if your gram or gramps is helping you out with this higher education endeavor, give ’em an extra squeeze. And if you’re doing it all on your own like me, props to you. At least now I know who to hang out with if I want to do a little whining about my eternally broke phase of life.
And unfortunately when I say, pay student loans or die tryin’ –this is absolutely accurate. If you have private student loan debt, and you die, someone else is still responsible (so you might want to warn your cosigner). But before you do that, consider some tips from me:
- Do your research: If you’re about to take out loans or already are in repayment on some, research the sh*t out of your options. These big bad companies aren’t going to give you any helpful tips to score a lower interest rate or change your repayment plan unless you actively seek out some alternatives. A simple Google search will put you on the right path.
- Pay as much as you can, as soon as you can: You would cry if you knew how much I spent a month on these loans; my adult coworkers have told me it’s more than their monthly mortgage payment. But, the sooner I can start making a dent in my payments, the better. I’ll suck it up for now in the hopes that there will be some financial reward later when I can earn more money and save up for more adult things. Livin’ at home ain’t so bad, and you do start to feel a sense of pride that you first earned the degree, and now you’re earning enough to pay it back.
- Take a deep breath: About once a month, a breakdown of sorts is inevitable. It feels like your life can’t possibly progress forward if you don’t even have enough money for the fancy car wash with the purple soap. How can I save for a house, a car, a wedding with all of this debt? It’s paralyzing at times, but it gets better. You have to stay positive and remind yourself there’s way more people out there with same stresses you have (and obviously, even more people who have it worse). Now we have a whole new group of old people in the same boat as us, even if it’s not the best boat to be in.