Student Debt Diary: 5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Borrowing
Deferment is a dirty word. Lenders make it seem easy to wait (or defer) paying back your loans, but be careful...it's a choice that has a cost. Deferring your loans (or having them put into forbearance) puts you more deeply in debt, extending the time it will take you to repay your loan. Part of the reason I was unemployed so long is that I was insistent on working in my field, at any level. It would have been wiser to take a part or full-time job to pay the bills and keep paying those loans. If you find yourself in a similar position, look into income-based repayment, which calculates payment as a percentage of your monthly income.
Just how long loan repayment takes. So, it's nine years after the fact, and I've honestly barely made a dent in my loans. I accepted the "gift" of deferment right after graduation from benevolent lenders when I was fortunate to be working and earning an amount equal to the total of my loan--which means I definitely should have been making payments and living more frugally. I made no payments while unemployed and very minimal payments the past three years when I was earning very little working at a non-profit. I'm back on track career-wise, but it will still take me another 10 years to pay off my full debt, meaning I'll be well into my 40s by the time I'm debt-free.Borrowing money for higher education isn't the end of the world, but as it can limit your options in the ensuing years, prepare yourself before you take the plunge! Do your research, pay what you can out of pocket and explore as many grants and scholarships as you can. A little planning goes a long way in making the experience less daunting.
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