Debts For Life Starting At 22

I was forced into college right after high school because my mother wanted to live vicariously through me (since she didn't get to go to college at that age). I chose a private school and, like most new college students, didn't read much of the financial aid papers before signing them. I was at that school for four years and while I did get some grants, I graduated owing over $74,000. That was last June, and I've been looking for work the entire time...and I've found nothing, neither in my field or in general. I've noticed that nobody wants to hire someone with professional skills because that will mean having to pay a professional's wages, and people are very stingy when it comes to graphic design work. I have actually been told that $25 an hour is a reasonable freelancer's rate, but potential clients have told me that $8 an hour is too much to ask for the work they wanted done.

I made the error of choosing Sallie Mae as my lender, and they have been increasing my monthly payments every couple of months, and I currently owe them $490 a month and the Department of Education $87 a month. The only money I have coming in is from freelancing and selling things on eBay. They don't care that last year, I made $1300 - all they want is to get as much of their money as fast as they possibly can. How I am expected to pay their unholy bills each month until 2034 is way beyond me. And I've called them...they will not lower my payments anymore, and since the most problematic loans are my five private loans, I can't do much to lower them further. The worst part is I can't just quit paying in order to 'punish' them because that would mean my credit being ruined and me going into default and Sallie Mae possibly suing me.

I've been forced into graduate school this year as well, meaning I will be $50,000 further in debt by 2013. As it stands, by the time I pay off my loans to Sallie Mae in 2034, I will have repaid $133,000 due to stretching the payments out so much. I'm also supposed to be in automatic deferrment while in school, but Sallie Mae has not gotten that memo. Grad school also involves a lot of out-of-pocket costs - money I do not have. According to my mother, grad school is for my own good and she believes if I have a master's degree, I will be guaranteed a six-figure income with paid vacation...even though the average salary for a professor at my last school was around $50,000. Which is great, but I don't want to teach, so I have no reason to be in grad school.

I don't want to be in debt forever, but I haven't a choice unless I die or leave the country. I will never have nice things and probably never own my own home, and possibly not even be able to afford a car or food. All because my mother demanded I go to college for her. I hope she remembers when I can no longer pay my bills and Sallie Mae puts a lien on her house (she's my cosigner) that college was for my own good.
StrawberryPocky StrawberryPocky
22-25, F
7 Responses Aug 11, 2010

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Hi Strawberry,
Don't feel so down. Many people are actually in the same situation as you are right now. Our economy is not helping us at all, so students who went to private colleges or took out lots of loans would figure that they can repay it in the future. In reality, someone who didn't graduate may have a better paying job because they have more experience rather than them having a better education. Stick to a budget and pay off more than the minimum each month. You'll pay it off eventually.

I do freelance work through Elance.com and although some people charge 8$ an hour, other people charge up to 70$ an hour. You can charge as much as you need to make if you present yourself in the right way and present a good portfolio. Another thing to consider is making your own agency. So bring in specialists who work for maybe 40$ an hour, but in your project pricing you charge an up fee so that you make income from just providing the specialists rather than spending __x hours doing the work. I run a web design agency this way, and just through being the face of the company and communicating a bit with our designers and clients I make a good bit of money. If I were to divide it into hours, its about 80$ an hour. However, DO NOT get trapped in the time barrier. You should charge clients for the value you provide rather than the time you provide, and you can find yourself paying off your loans for good!

Have you registered with recruitment agencies or considered taking any job until one that suits you comes along? Have you looked into running your own business with a low start up? Tutoring, Event Planning (hiring tables, rooms), Real Estate, Up selling, Markets etc are all golden opportunities.

Hey Strawberry, keep your head up, check out my story - contact me if you want to join our fight, and this isn't the go by way of congress fight, this is sue the greedy b*stard fight :)!

Remember YOU made the decision to go to college and better your future. Don't live with regrets. Just try to keep pushing. It's sad that things aren't working out, but keep you head up. I hope things get better.

What no-one would have explained to you, or your mother, Strawberry - is that the liklihood of the cost of your education being well-retuned on investment, is poor, and growing poorer.
Yet the interest you pay on your debt IS someone else's investment return. It is the shadow money that makes the world go round (not your world....theirs.)
I don't figure anyone really has the right to moralize about your life choices (made with or against whatever will you see fit to explain here) without coming clean about how the money game really works.
Why did you go to college in the first place? For money. Ironically, now you're finding out you can't have any. Higher education has become a dangerous game in the 21st century.
It is messing up more lives than bad drugs did in my time. back then, we found it easier to blame the drugs, than the kids. Now it's flipped. Hang in there. Your education may never have much to do with finding gainful employment. However, it may lead to interesting self-expressions of another type.