New Data Gives Clearer Picture of Student Debt

I definitely learned a lot from this NYT article about student loan debt. I do not fit the profile for the average student loan borrower (re: I had over $100,000 in debt and graduated from a highly selective university).

Thanks to teaching abroad, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the dark debt tunnel.

If many students who are attending community colleges are the ones student loan debts are  negatively affecting, I wonder how Dr. Biden and the current administration will address this. More funding for community colleges is one of Obama’s campaigns.

How will this latest information change the conversation surrounding student loan debt with the new crop of presidential hopefuls?


Four Lessons Learned: How I Paid Off $44,000 in Student Loans in Two Years

As I prepare for the next stage in my life, I’ve taken this summer to get reinvested in financial literacy. This led me to the blog The Frugal Feminista. I first heard the founder, Kara, speak at the 2014 Blogging While Brown conference. She was an extremely dynamic and engaging presenter. This year, after reading a post on Frugal Feminista about student loan debt, I decided to reach out to Kara about my own experience. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a lot of shame surrounding my debt burden. The fact that Kara has been amazingly receptive and warm when I reach out to her has made me more comfortable as I struggle to shrug off the stigma I’ve in some ways placed on myself. Here are the lessons I’ve learned from my attempts to pay off the debt.

Lesson #1: Get realistic about your finances.

It was clear before I ever signed on any dotted line that I could not afford the undergraduate institution that I attended. Waiting for a windfall to come in whether it’s via a scholarship or a generous relative is not a financial plan, and no financial plan is a plan for potential financial disaster.

A year after moving to the expensive New York City with two suitcases and debt, I lost my job. This forced me to sit down with my $800+ monthly minimum payments and analyze my relationship with money. Money was a dirty word for me that was a source of stress and shame. How could I rack up six figures worth of debt on just an undergraduate degree? Because of the negative feelings I had in regards to money, I would quickly end any conversations about finances just to avoid emotional discomfort.

One tool that helped me confront my debt head on was LearnVest, a financial planning company geared towards women. I found a new teaching job, tracked my expenses using the company’s online software, and attended its very first LearnVest LIVE financial empowerment seminar. I never paid for any of the company’s add-on services, but I did get the free 15 minute phone call from one of its financial planners. In the nicest of terms, this financial planner told me that I wasn’t being realistic concerning how quickly I wanted to pay off my debt, which leads to the second lesson.

Money Magazine’s College Ranking System Takes Affordability into Account

I’ve written before about student loan debt and the rising cost of college. Here’s an interesting article about Money Magazine’s attempt to rank colleges based on affordability, quality, and earnings after graduation. It also addresses how President Obama is seeking to create a federal program that ranks colleges based on affordability in light of what is becoming a fast-brewing crisis of student loan debt.

I say yes to ranking systems taking affordability into account!

Confessions of an Accountant: ‘I have 130K of College Debt’

Confessions of an Accountant: ‘I have 130K of College Debt’

This author was worse off than I was. I went to the “fancy” university because my ego said I should after working hard at school (granted, my state school’s financial aid package wasn’t amazing either; one Catholic private school I got accepted to was going to give me a nice chunk of change, but I didn’t matriculate there).

She opted for the state school and still ended up with a lot of debt.

Commentators have been writing that her priorities are still off because she’s saving for a wedding instead of putting it towards her debt. Damn, can a woman enjoy something from her paycheck??? To me, the comments smack of the same way people love to shake their fingers at anyone on public assistance the moment they pull out a cell phone at the checkout line (and, Lord have mercy, don’t let it be a smartphone).

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Colleges Rattled as Obama Seeks Rating System

Colleges Rattled as Obama Seeks Rating System

I’m in favor of the rating system as a way to keep colleges accountable for spiraling tuition costs. If you can find money to build that multi-million dollar gymnasium or library (and I do love a good library), then you can find money to help support students trying to get an education. Is it just me or do colleges like to mention when they’re at the top of other nationally ranked lists (that private companies come up with)? They might as well start bragging about the government ranking system too then. Let it be known that they provide a quality education at a reasonable price.

What do you think?

Then Something Comes Along that Pisses You Off

After two weeks with no school, I was getting excited about going to work tomorrow. I was e-mailing students, Skyping with my family, cooking my lunch for The Big Day, and just all-around in good spirits. Then, something came along that pissed me off.

I’ve purposely not disclosed the name of the college I graduated from in past posts. I’m disclosing it now: Duke University.

Duke sent me the link to this NPR article because I’m a graduate. In this article The Powers That Be attempt to justify its high tuition rate.

Even I didn’t know it was at $60,000 now. I almost fell out of my chair when I read that.

I thought maybe I didn’t know my place values after all. But, no. My second grade Math teacher taught me well. That’s the price, and it’s rising.

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Then My Life Flashed Before My Eyes

I was on my way to the Farmer’s Market.

The elevator was carrying me from my 15th floor apartment when it shuddered to a stop on the 7th floor. I moved to the back, expecting someone to board, only to realize that the elevator doors were not opening. Thinking about how the elevator has stalled before on a floor, I pressed the Door Open button, and my heart stalled. Stopped. Did not tick.

Before my eyes I saw white concrete blocks. Above me was the black metal gate that closes and opens before the actual elevator door does. Below me was a different gate. The elevator had stopped, frozen, between the sixth and seventh floors.

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