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 Post subject: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 7:53 pm 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
I'm brand new here, and I'm really looking forward to communicating with others. My story: I went to a state school and somehow managed to accrue 100K in student loan debt over 5 years. Some of it is subsidized. Some of it is not. Some of it's private, some is federal. The bottom line is that ALL of it needs to get paid off. This realization has hit me now, as I am in graduate school, luckily receiving a very nice stipend towards my PhD. I'm 24 years old, lost, and a bit confused.

I began this realization with anger at my parents and extended family for having no money knowledge and never teaching me. I then moved into intense fear that I won't be able to make this happen. Then I got some sense and made a budget for the first time in my life. I'm able to put roughly 1400 a month towards this debt, while saving 300 a month to an emergency fund and still managing a very small "fun" budget and "grocery" budget, while paying rent and bills.

It's honestly still terrifying, but this support group seams like it will really help my journey. I would love to hear people tell me that I can do this! I'm also looking to make some side income, but being in a PhD program makes it a bit tough. I have junk to sell on eBay, and some side data analysis at school that will help.

Thanks for any supportive words.


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 10:51 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:04 am
Posts: 43
Good luck! You absolutely can do this.

Do you know how many different loans you have, and what the interest rates are? Do you know whether you'd like to pay them off in order of size (largest-smallest, smallest-largest) or according to interest rate? Are you in a field where you can be eligible for loan forgiveness by working for a few years in a low income area?


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 5:21 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:47 pm
Posts: 90
Location: Ontario, Canada
Good for you for wanting to get a grip on this debt now, instead of letting it get even bigger while you finish school. There is a great thread on student debt here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=35202

_________________
Kate


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 6:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 195
Welcome to the forum. $1400 per month on the loans is great! If you keep that up, you could have them paid off before you're 30.


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:10 am 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
wisteria: my private loans have the highest interest rate @ 7.9 percent. They are all individual loans, so luckily the highest rate loans are also the smallest loans, which makes tackling them easy and mathematically logical. I can't wait to get some of them gone. I do have about 8k of subsidized loans, and some loans that are already requiring me to pay interest every quarter, about $250.
I am really interested in learning more about this loan forgiveness that you have mentioned. Can you give me more details on that?

I honestly want to get a part time job doing SOMETHING! I sell stuff on eBay here and there. I was considering finding a niche to sell in... or perhaps tutoring... or anything. I'm just really fearful of overloading myself with commitments to work, failing out of my PhD program, and then having the student loans hit me instantly. Granted, those are some pretty hefty fears. Some irrational thinking on my part maybe.

I also know that I have to maintain my sanity and have some kind of social life in graduate school... but I want this debt problem gone NOW. Rational people, please chime in.


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:40 am 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
ALSO a major thank you to all of you who responded, and for giving me that link to the other thread. It made me feel safer and more accepting of my current life situation. I can sleep now. :)


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:32 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
What are you getting your PhD in? The loan forgiveness mentioned above is if you have loans from the government and go into a field doing certain types of social work (teaching in inner city schools, things of that nature). It doesn't apply to any private loans.

Does your PhD program even allow you to take an outside job? You should really be focusing all of your attention on that. On a graduate student stipend, you aren't making very much. Depending on what your degree is in, you can make a lot of money once you graduate. If you keep your habits of living so far below your means, I can't imagine that you will remain in debt for too long. Try and look at it as investing in your future.


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:09 am 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
My PhD is in education research. The program sets us up to be in faculty tenure track positions, but I am also considering private sector / education consulting, and am looking into that as well. I'm honestly doing that discreetly, as to not upset my advisor and others in the department.

How much should one have in a safety fund? I'm putting $300 a month to savings and any extra income from eBay sales into savings as well (just selling junk now from home)... But I could increase my payments to 1500 or 1600, and save only 100 a month.
I think my best bet is to put the 300 to savings so that I can (once I have a solid job) take a large portion of the savings and throw it at the remaining loans. I also want to have a decent savings because my car is on its way out (I bike to work, but the car is needed for some things).

I don't have parents who I can rely on for any kind of money. They are in debt (and apparently those skills transfered to me! haha).

This forum is really helping me feel better about my situation. I'm scared folks. But I can do this. I have to do this, for my own kids one day!


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:04 am
Posts: 43
DG: Have you considered treating applying for scholarships/grants as a part time job? I know of some people in grad school who have done that. As for emergency money, the answer depends on how much emergency money you have now, and your sources of risk. An old car that needs replacing, health insurance or lack thereof, etc. Now, a car repair/replacement fund is different from an emergency fund. Emergencies are, by nature, not planned for. How much do you think you need to have set aside for the car?

One quick link, on the go: http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/teachercancel.jsp?tab=funding


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:35 pm 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
Hmmm. I have not thought about applying for grants and scholarships as side-income but that is a great idea. Are there such things for graduate students obtaining PhDs? And where does one go looking for such things?
This is an exciting idea actually because it would bring even more motivation to my work!
Thanks for the good thoughts.

The car is OK right now. Check engine light is on. I am not sure why, and I need to probably get breaks taken care of. It has eaten so much money over the years, however, that I don't know if it's really worth putting anything into it. My hope is that it lasts long enough until I have enough money to buy another clunker if I really needed to.


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:40 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:04 am
Posts: 43
A quick google for "PhD scholarship" and "PhD grant" brought up lots of hits. I bet if you narrow it down to your chosen field, you'll get more relevant results.

The standard advice is 'have 1000 set aside for extreme emergencies, then attack debt,' I believe. Do you already have that, do you need that, or does it sound inadequate? I would be drastically uncomfortable if I only had $1000 in the bank. I haven't had that little in savings since I was 12 (I'm a habitual saver).


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:01 pm 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
I have $500 and am getting closer to $1000. If I put away $300 a month, i'll have 15k by the time I graduate. But keep in mind this means, no vacations or anything at all for the next 4 years. That's doable, and I got myself into this mess so I must get myself out of this mess.

I am not guaranteed summer funding, which I have this summer, and at least one month next summer, although my advisor was very eager to have me work and to pay me. so I think I can basically get funded every summer. He has a very good amount of grant money.

I'll narrow these scholarships and grants down to see what I can find with my free time.

Is it normal to feel nauseous and sick with this realization of my debt? I mean, the anxiety and fear have been really hard for me? Do others experience that? Apologies for getting emotional in the boards, but it's hard for me to even focus on school work. Debt is all that I am thinking about...


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:17 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:04 am
Posts: 43
I think it's pretty healthy to have that 'where am I and what am I doing' feeling when you realize there's this huge thing in your life that you didn't conciously realize was huge. It's a bit like discovering you accidentally adopted an elephant. Still, there are some really inspirational stories from people in these journals - check out viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3299 who is in something like your situation, debt-load wise. It can be done, it just takes patience and diligence.

On the other hand, I do love taking time to smell the roses - or plant lilacs, as I'm doing today.


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:40 pm 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
Thanks Wysteria,
It ca be done and I will do it. I think once my savings account has accrued a couple of months of savings, I will feel much better about my ordeal. Just having that money on the side and knowing if something terrible goes wrong, it will still be there.
Being out of this debt by 30 years old would be great, and that is incentive enough to work hard at my graduate school life and find a good paying job. The second I get debt free I will be 100% focused on leaving very well below my means and saving tons of money.

I need to think about living below my means as a life style that I choose and want to have for forever, not a sad and lonely existence... which is feels like now since I spent so much of my undergrad splurging without realizing what I was doing.

Deep breaths and focus will make this happen, and I will NEVER be in debt again. EVER.


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 Post subject: Re: My DebtJournal out of 100K of Undergrad Loans
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:47 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:04 am
Posts: 43
Sad I understand, but why lonely? Do you have friends with expensive tastes, or people you'd need to travel to stay in touch with?


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