I’m just treading water, waiting for my student loan debt to swallow me whole

To Whom It May Concern:

I went to a private college, I took out student loans.  It wasn’t my first choice, and it wasn’t the most expensive option.  I cried my eyes out when my parents told me that I couldn’t go to Purdue University because there was no way I could afford the student loans I’d have to take out.  I went to a fall back school that I needed less money to attend.

I’m still over $100,000 in debt, and it keeps climbing.

I’m part of the 5.6%, the select group of borrowers who owe more than $100,000.  The numbers, however, shouldn’t be what defines us.

From this article published earlier this year, you can see a breakdown of the numbers and how the debt has risen astronomically over the years.  For even more specifics, you can check this report from the Federal Reserve Bank, detailing types of debts, balances and such.

Back to my previous statement, we aren’t numbers.  At our most basic form, we’re human beings.  We all belong to other groups (mothers, fathers, care-givers, etc) but when you take it all back to the beginning, we’re simply just people.

People who, using the information that has been force fed to us for a long time, chose to go to college and get an education.  We took out student loans with the full intent on paying them back.  We completed our degrees (whether they be 2-year, 4-year, 6-year, etc) and left school, our heads held high and our hearts full of pride.  We succeeded, achieved the dream, we’re college educated.

With nothing to show for it.

And no money to pay back those loans that were supposed to help us ‘better ourselves.’  Is this really betterment?  Student loan debt current totals $1.1 trillion and it keeps climbing.  The bills keep pouring in, like water rising up and swallowing us whole.

I’m beginning to drown, I can barely keep treading water.

My case isn’t anything out of the ordinary, I’m just another person who went to school, willingly taking out student loans with the intent to pay them back.  And then I graduated and I felt the bottom fall away and I entered into a 3-year free fall.  I thought going back part-time to community college, paying out of pocket for an associate’s degree, and keeping my loans at bay would help.  I decided to get a business degree, something that might help me find a job quicker, easier and one that made more money.

Didn’t work out so well in my favor though.  Loans, even when in deferment, rack up interest and that gets added to the principal.  I went from owing about 85,000 to over 100,000 in two years.  Just two years.  How do you add 25,000 in two years?  Insanely high interest rates and refusal from Sallie Mae to work with anyone.

I want to make this clear at this point, I fully intend on paying back all of the money I borrowed.  You want to charge me interest, sure.  You want to charge me over 13% on just one loan?  That’s where I draw the line.  This is where the problem is, you’re bleeding the country dry.  I can barely make my payments now and I’m on a graduated repayment plan.  In two years the amount I will have to pay each month will practically double.  Now, I have to manage $870 each month.

If all student loans had lower interest rates, say even just 2 or 3% it would make it even more manageable.

I think education should be free though.  Countries that offer free education for high school graduates are getting something right.  Does that increase the amount tax payers have to pay each year?  Sure, but if that means my children could go to University for free, and then pay into the same system that will send their kids to school, then I’m all for it.

My generation will eventually become the backbone of the country.  How can you expect us to stand up and support America when it’s crippling us from the inside out?

I call my mother crying all the time, stressing out and worrying about money.  I live overseas (Japan) and the exchange rate is horrible.  For every $1,000 I send home, I barely see $800 in the bank.  I’m losing so much money on the exchange rate that I’ve considered stopping paying my loans altogether.  I could put the money toward my credit card debt, that I’ve had to accumulate because at the end of the month, sending home $1,000 means I have every little to make it through the rest of the month with.  As I get closer and closer to the 25th of every month, I find myself pressed to head to the grocery store and use my credit card to buy staples until I can make it to the next pay day.

There are solutions to these problems, but not even those options are available to me.  Because I live overseas and don’t pay taxes in America I don’t qualify for consolidation.  I can’t do anything at the moment to get my interest rates lowered and my issues resolved.  I’ve exhausted my options and have reached the point where I want to throw my hands up and just say, “Fuck it.”

But, this was a conscious decision, and one that I intend to see through until the end.  I want to pay, but why is it so hard to meet half-way?  We’re all people here.  Isn’t that what America is supposed to be about?  People helping people find a better life.

So why are they trying to keep us in misery?


M. Pavlak


2 thoughts on “I’m just treading water, waiting for my student loan debt to swallow me whole

  1. Howto$tuffYourPig says:

    You are young and strong and I know from experience that you can and will get through this! People turn debt ridden situations around every day. Has your student loan been deferred? If not, don’t defer the loan where it will make matters worse. Can you pick up a side job to make some extra cash? I know you mentioned that you were living in Japan and I’m not sure what you have for job opportunities there. As long as you pay more than the minimum balance due…you will eventually chip away at your loan balance. Good luck!

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