How are your student loan payments affecting your finances?

A bipartisan group of senators has announced a proposal to prevent a doubling of the interest rate on certain federal student loans, an increase that would affect seven million college students in the coming school year. Student loan debt is a burden for many, the total surpassing $1 trillion earlier this year.

Today’s Question: How are your student loan payments affecting your finances?

  • Staciaann

    My student loan payments are more than my mortgage payment. After law school they run around $1900/mo IF I were actually able to pay them. I pay what I can and have a FT job + 2 PT jobs in order to try to make this work. FedLoan suggested my yearly salary at $192k in order to pay my loans off in the standard time – which if they could find me something that pays that much, I’d be grateful.

    I’m constantly paranoid that the Income Based Repayment (IBR) will be overturned by the Federal Government at some point. If that were to happen, even declaring bankruptcy wouldn’t help me.

    My husband and I don’t have cable, we have one car we share, and we don’t overspend. This student loan debt (especially since he’s in the midst of an MBA) is crippling. I’d love to work in nonprofit or help those who can’t afford traditional attorneys… but with my loans that will never happen.

  • nicole sv

    Because I have student loans beginning in the early to mid 90′s, I am not eligible for loan forgiveness or reduction programs despite working in a profession where newer graduates can work for a set period of years (usually 5) and have their loans reduced/forgiven. This policy should change to include anyone serving as an educator in a designated subject or district.
    My personal and professional lives continue to be impacted by my student loan debt and have influenced career and family decisions, including buying a home, taking a position in a different state, and personal and retirement savings. Many of my peers have been able to payoff their loans not through traditional repayment, but rather through an inheritance, relationship (one income went to student loan payments while the other partner’s income supported the family) or a one time financial
    “uptick” (housing/property boom).
    I would not trade the education/degrees that these loans funded, but when I signed my first loan papers at 19, I never imagined I’d be still paying (and still a large balance) I’m eyeballing the age of 45.

  • kevins

    My wife and I had three children in college at the same time, with one that went to U of M Twin Cities campus (significant tuition increases each of the four years there) and then on to law school. We had to take out loans in our name or co-sign on state and fed loans, totaling twice what we bought our house for. We admire anyone that does not have to fund higher education experiences this way, and wish we had an alternative, but at the time we could find none. I hope I live long enough to see them paid off.

  • Andi

    I finished graduate school over 9 years ago, and am SO close to having them paid off. (I was very fortunate to lock into super low interest rates, but I don’t know how new graduates are going to do it.) While in school and taking out those loans I would have never imagined having to pay for school along with a home, car, and daycare.

    It’s the mortgage and daycare that I don’t think those with loans think about–big monthly expenses that would be much easier without student loans.

    I’m a tenured professor and my students always seem to be surprised to know that their professor is still paying off student loans.

    • Kari

      I think many new graduates (both in undergrad and graduate level programs) are thinking about things like mortgage and daycare- and that’s why many are not buying houses, not getting married and not having children. It’s being pushed off because we have no choice- with the interest rates where they are, for many it is practically impossible to afford anything beyond the student loans. We have a generation coming up that has to put off their lives- it will be interesting to see how it affects the rest of society.

      • Miki

        Completely agree, I have been trying to make peace with not being able to afford a home or kids and at 33 that is looking like a permanent choice. i will be paying off loans when i could be contributing to a neighborhood as a home owner and parent. As is now I feel stagnant.

  • PaulJ

    My company paid me to go to night school so I didn’t have loans. But they usually only promoted those with pedigreed (not night school) degrees, so I didn’t make any money.
    So, not having loans has helped my cash outflow but hurt my inflow.

  • david

    I went back to school in my mid 30s to get out of a dead end job. Shortly after graduating I made two big mistakes. First I bought a house at the worst time in history, and second after being laid off I did everything possible to keep current on that mortgage. In a year of unemployment followed by a year of underemployment I burned through my savings, sank deeper in debt, and deferred my student loans. I had the principal paid down about 10% before the crash. Now two years being back employed and back to my precrash salary my student loan principal is 10% higher then when I graduated. Would be nice to make more then the minimum payments on these so I won’t be paying towards them for the next 10+ years, but I had to put over $11,000 in medical deductible expenses on a credit card. Every single extra sent goes towards these expenses. Imagine how good it would be for the economy if such a huge portion of my pay could go towards something but interest. Guess we know who makes the rules, and its not the voters. We are nothing but indentured servants to the criminal bankers and our elected shills are their bitches.

  • Miki

    I am on an income based repayment plan. my payments are not as high as some of my fellow classmates but i will probably never buy a home and i am waiting on children until i can afford them. Every time i get a raise at work, my monthly payment gets larger. in short i am not ever able to save money toward any kind of future. i am just paying bills forever.

  • 2 incomes

    We are a 2 income family with no children. We just paid off my husband’s student loans last august. My current payment of $175 a month does not affect our family negatively.

  • Kris

    I’m not worried about my student loan payments. But that’s just because I can’t afford to make them. I’d rather default on a Stafford loan than go through foreclosure on my home.

    • david

      I don’t think that’s possible. The laws are written so student loans never ever go away except by paying them off. They will just keep compounding interest and fees, which compound more interest and fees till one day they start garnishing your pay, but a lien on your home, and take every tax return which won’t even cover your interest for the year. You won’t even be able to declare bankruptcy to get rid of them. On the other hand you are paying towards a house that if you’re like me isn’t worth anything near what you paid for it. And won’t be for 20 years after the market turns around. Think long and hard about that choice. It just takes one illness to make it snowball into a pit so deep you no longer can see any way out. They laws are all on the banks side, not ours.

      • Max

        A home is not a good investment but what does that have to do with anything? At the end of the day everyone needs a roof over their head. He would be better served to own his house free and clear in 30 years than have to rent into retirement in order to pay off a student loan.

        • david

          Why pay more then twice the monthly payment towards something than you have too? In my case the house lost 53% of its value, and for 2 years I listened to that idiotic advice to keep current on it. It makes no sense, and it’s bank shills that spread that bs. If you do the math and consider how long it will take to break even, or just when you can sell it for what you still owe on it, the lengths of time is staggering. In my case I wouldn’t be able to sell the house in a minimum of 11 years. Meanwhile being stuck there forced me to commute 135 miles a day. Transportation cost was higher then a house payment for the same house at today’s prices. Ditching that albatross, paying off my debt, and starting over made the most financial since, to the tune of at least $180,000.

        • david

          And he will never own that house “free and clear” if he defaults on his student loan. The government WILL put a lien on it and any equity will go towards the student loan. The game is rigged.

    • Max

      You are right to put your mortgage first, but there is not likely any need to default on your loans. Federal student loans have all sorts of protections that will allow you to keep out of default. Try enrolling in the Income Based Repayment plan. It limits your monthly payments to 15% of your discretionary income.

      And contrary to popular opinion, student loans are dischargeable in bankruptcy if you can show that their repayment constitutes and undue hardship.

      • david

        Historically only .4%, that’s 4/10ths of a percent of student loans have been discharged in bankruptcy. And those people pretty much had to be unable to work ever again.

  • Lisa Sater

    My student loans: my own for my master’s degree, without which I would be making $12 an hour, our share of my daughter’s first year at Macalester, my husband’s for his master’s degree, that also netted him a better income as a teacher, and our son’t interest and our payments on our share of his education total $600 per month, about 12% of our income. That’s not a big percent, but since we are in our fifties and trying to plan for retirement, it’s a burden we wish we didn’t have.

  • Abbey

    Because federal loans would not cover what I needed for college at a reasonable interest rate, I chose to go with a private loan. I make a payment of $442 per month which is equal to about 28% of my income after taxes. Because I went with a private loan like this I am not eligible for income based repayment. It is really hard to keep my household afloat when you consider how expensive rent is on top of my already high loan payment. I know I’m not alone in this and it is incredibly frustrating. On top of everything else I am planning my wedding. I worry that if an emergency were to occur I would be absolutely stuck. I really wish I would have had a better understanding of what I was signing up for before I entered college.

  • Gabby

    My monthly payments started out at $750, and two years into repayment, I was able to work them down to $650 (31% of my take-home pay). Since I’m paying extra to the principle to lower my payments, it’s more like 60% of my take-home pay. I will be done in seven years at this rate, which is more than a lot of my peers can say.

  • Molly

    I have a graduate degree which was required for me to move forward in my career. My student loans are $1100 per month. This is more than my mortgage payment. I am unable to commit to securing a new vehicle though the need exists.