Have you ever been so overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty that is paralyzes you with inaction? Knowing the problem will never go away, but you still remain in denial or want to run away from your problems.
We have all been there at some point in our lives. While the issues at hand may vary, each and everyone of us has faced obstacles and difficulties. How we deal with those uncertainties are as individual as we are as people.
Over the summer, I made the decision to finally face my student loan debt, as my deferment reached it's limit and Uncle Sam would be wanting his money back, that I have been accruing interest on since I signed my first student loan at Northeastern University in Boston back in 1996.
Going to all private universities, minus the college I eventually earned my bachelors degree from, including undergraduate and graduate school, wasn't exactly affordable. Tuition was outrageous, but I was still determined to get my fancy pants degrees.
Hindsight has taught me that no one cares what college I went to and getting into stupid loan debt was not the wisest decision. Some of my closest loved ones never went to college and they have ZERO debt. I am pretty sure they were the smart ones. I just have a piece of paper that said I have a degree. UGH. We live. We learn.
I have over $100,000 loans in student loan debt. You read that right. I didn't add an extra zero. It's crazy I know. I cannot believe I was such a financial nimrod.
However, at the time, everyone I knew was also in massive student loan debt. Well, except my really rich friends whose parents were footing the expensive college tuition bill.
But, for the rest of us, we were signing our financial futures away with one signature on a promissory note. Even my ex husband had student loan debt that almost doubled that amount after going to law school.
Ahhhh...but we were young and we thought we would make a ton of money one day or at least my husband would. In my naive brain, I thought I would use my salary as a teacher to knock out my student loan debt in a matter of time.
After graduation, I was paying off my student loan debt, since we had a comfortable double income no kids (DINK) lifestyle. Life was going according to schedule.
But, then, divorce happened. Oh. Crap. How was I going to pay this all back?
Well, I had an even brighter idea to go to graduate school after my divorce. Don't ask me why. Divorce brain makes you do stupid things sometimes.
Anyways, I had discovered graduate school is ever way more expensive than undergraduate school. Just piled on more and more student loan debt towards my Masters in Special Education, which honestly doesn't make that much of a pay difference.
At the time, I was planning on teaching at the university level and all I needed was a masters degree to become a professor.
After a few years of painfully boring and overwhelming graduate school, on top of my already bonkers busy life, I spoke with my counselor to take an extended break from graduate school. Currently, I am four courses shy of earning my degree, but I have decided to pay for the rest of my courses in cash and I refuse to take out any more loans.
I would like to return to school after I see how this new school year balances out. I have already conferred with my university counselor, but I am creating an action plan to accomplishing my graduate school goal.
It's not that I cannot do graduate level work, as I did really well, but I was so burnt out and needed to take a life breather.
Anyways, I guess I should get to the point of this, so I can get to bed because I go back to work tomorrow.
You see, I have been dreading calling my student loan center to begin my payment plan. Basically, I was looking at nearly $1,000 a month in student loan payments. Which would be roughly a majority of one of my teaching paychecks after taxes.
When you live in expensive as hell Hawaii, every penny of your paycheck counts. Between housing, food and basic living expenses, there really isn't a whole lot left over. So, you can see why I was so overcome with anxiety and fear when it was time to start paying up.
Don't get me wrong. I know I am responsible for taking out the loans and that is exactly what I am doing. I have no one to blame but myself. No one put a gun to my head to take out loans, but they sure made it easy to do.
Seriously, who loans a kid $100k when they are just out of high school? I actually talked to my sister about this, as she was a former financial officer at a local community college. Our educational system is a mess in this country, but that is a whole other blog in itself.
With many stressful things in my life, I decided to deal with it head on. As I like to tell my students, "Face it to erase it."
I decided to face my student loans in order to erase my fears.
After praying long and hard about it, I picked up my cell phone and dialed the student loan center number.
Lord. I am giving this situation to you. Give me courage to face my fears.
Within a few minutes, I was able to explain to the specialist my situation and finances without any judgement and was offered the Income Driven repayment plan. With my information, I was able to lower my student loans from almost $1k a month to just $200 a month, give or take a few dollars of course.
Even better, after 25 years of repayment, the remainder of my loan is ALL forgiven. I may also qualify for the Teacher Forgiveness loan program, as I have taught special education at two Title 1 schools in my career.
Praise the Lord. I couldn't believe it was going to be this easy.
I felt like the gates of heaven opened up, all the angels were singing and Jesus himself was doing a touch down dance. Now this was totally reasonably, doable and I wasn't going to be in the poor house with my student loan debt.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Truth be told, THIS is the greatest stress in my life right now and I finally faced my fears and have it all under control.
So, now I can sleep a little better at night knowing this is one less stressful issue in my life. Also, I feel really proud of myself for facing my fears head on.
As you read this, there may be a problem you are facing that is bringing great stress in your life. I want you to know that you are not alone. Many people live silently in their stress, but you don't have to live your life this way.
Have faith it will all turn out and give your problems to the Big Guy upstairs.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!