It is no secret that student debt in the United States is a major problem. According to this Forbes article, there are 44.2 million U.S. borrowers with a total of $1.31 trillion in student debt, and the average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt. When I was still in school, these massive numbers were hard to wrap my head around. I have had a job since I was 16, but working part-time jobs with paychecks that went partly to my college fund and partly to fueling my trips to the mall did not give me a real understanding of how income, bills, debt, and personal finance in general operate. Having been in the working world for over a year, I now have a better understanding of how impactful my debt is and how big of an effect it has on my life.
If you’re like me and are one of the more than 44 million borrowers contributing to our country’s student debt, you know how overwhelming and terrible those monthly loan payments are. Partnered with rent, utilities bills, gym membership fees, groceries, and other necessities, it’s enough to bring a twenty-something to tears (and trust me, it has multiple times).
I personally am taking on an enormous amount of student debt and my monthly payments eat up a large majority of my paycheck. I would be lying if I said I didn’t look at my coworkers, peers, and friends that have less (or no) student debt than I do and feel bad for myself. But my debt is going to be a part of my life for quite some time, whether I like it or not. I refuse to throw a 15-year-long pity party for myself and harness unnecessary feelings of negativity and ungratefulness, so lately I have been trying to take on a new mindset regarding my debt.
Instead of thinking of my monthly payments as another bill, I am viewing these payments as a positive step forward. For four years, I dug myself into a monstrous hole of debt, and while I will never look at my four years at Villanova with anything but joy and gratitude, I can recognize now that those amazing years also included the act of painting a picture of very red dollar signs. But now, I am climbing out of that hole. With every payment, I am getting closer to being debt-free.
I obviously believe education in our country is extremely overpriced and that student debt is an issue that needs to be addressed, but if you are one of the 44.2 million borrowers with debt, we can never let the annoyance and difficulty of our debt allow us to forget what a privilege receiving an education is. In the midst of those painful monthly payments, it is important to recognize our blessings and fortune and take on a more positive mindset.
What are your tips for managing your student debt? Please share in the comment section below!