Author Topic: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.  (Read 25644 times)

midweststache

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #50 on: November 18, 2014, 06:43:06 PM »
My partner has approximately $65,000 at 7% interest. This is down from ~$75,000 when we started aggressively paying on them last year. The total was accumulated during two years of graduate school (graduated undgrad debt-free). He's got a pretty sweet job out of the deal, which would have been unlikely without his grad degree, but he didn't carry a job through grad school.

I have $7,800 from my one year of graduate school at the same school (also graduated undergrad debt-free). This is down from the $32,500 it was four years ago. The $7,800 is at 0% interest, because it's a subsidized loan (no longer a thing for graduate students) and the MA I pursued turned into a PhD program. My program now provides me with a stipend for living expenses (i.e. no new debt) in exchange for teaching.

In the two years it took him to get his degree, I paid off my interest-bearing loans (second job and selling my car). My second job also provides me with a work history outside of academia, which is vital in the current market.

What really gets my goat about the student loans is when my partner started paying on his in 2013, his provider had him on a 30 YEAR PLAN. 30 FLIPPING YEARS. His monthly payments were 95% interest (at $15/day) and 5% principle. And that was the AUTOMATIC plan they put him on. JEEBUS.

I sat my partner down when he got his job and showed him how long it would take on his loans if he only paid the monthly payment, and how much he would pay in interest. It was astonishing. Our average monthly payment is double what his lender requires.

Since my remaining loan is at 0% interest, his loans are the priority. This year we're on track to pay off $10,000 in principle (our total combined debt will be less than $70,000 by 12/31/14; this is the only debt we have), and we're on track to pay off even more next year.

Spondulix

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #51 on: November 19, 2014, 02:43:45 AM »
I just read an article the other day about the top 20 music schools in the US. Many were private schools with tuition over $30k/year - meaning a graduate with no scholarship could be coming out of school with well over $100k in debt. I came into the field with 2 music degrees, $65k in debt and had to work for $10/hr for a couple years... I know many songwriters, composers, recording engineers who did the same or had to intern for a year at least... There aren't even stable jobs for jazz musicians or orchestral players anymore! Some people have to play in two or three orchestras and hussle for side gigs just to make ends meet. It is mind boggling to me how the system works.

stevedoug

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #52 on: November 19, 2014, 03:53:48 PM »
31 year old here, technically a millenial (I think)
went to college @ local commuter branch of big name state college.
Bachelors in Engineering.
Paid for college w/ a part time job (@Best Buy), small loans, and later on a paid internship

Graduated with about 12k in loan debt, paying the minimum since it is a 2.1% interest rate.

I made some key choices that I wish more millenials would make:
Chose a general degree that is always in demand
Chose a commuter school to save on high room/board/etc costs
Kept a job and went to school (it is very possible)
Looked for a paid internship

College is not a 'right' or a 'requirement' it is a means to a goal, whatever that goal is to you. For me it was getting a job, and earning some flexibility in life choices.

stevedoug

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #53 on: November 19, 2014, 04:01:40 PM »
Quote
Do you mind if I ask about your degree? I have ongoing debates with many people about the employability of psych degrees. (Currently trying to convince a cousin to study something that is a hard science or skill).  While I have never seen an engineering / computer science / nursing / finance / accounting    graduate struggle to get a job in their field, I have seen people with sociology / psychology / criminal justice / english / spanish / journalism  struggle to find work that is in their area with a living wage.  Is this the case with you?

I'm an engineering student and I'm active on /r/engineering and /r/engineeringstudents on reddit. With more students flocking towards STEM degrees for jobs, the job market is getting more and more competitive. Internships are competitive. Wages are stagnating or dropping. People are sending out hundreds of apps for internships/ jobs and getting no responses. You really need to work hard, even in STEM degrees, to make yourself hireable. It's no cake walk.

I'll add my experience with a two-engineer household. The market is competitive and most jobs are based on contracts. Company loses a contract? Everyone laid off. Company gets a contract? HUGE hiring spree. Seems to go in 2-4 year cycles. Hiring/Layoff/Hiring/Layoff is pretty typical with any companies that depend on government contracts. Unless you live for work, it can be difficult to stay at a job 5 years. Then once you are laid off there is huge competition.

The other really difficult thing with STEM jobs  is that its difficult to find a replacement job in your area. You easily get pidgeonholed into whatever industry/specialty your first job out of college is. Your job search has a high possibility that you will need to relocate unless your area is rich in your industry. You can get a little behind others when you have to relocate and start over every 5 years. Add a second person who needs to find a job in their niche the job search gets that much harder.

This is only my experience and may not be commonplace.

1.5 Engineer household here (GF isn't an engineer, but her job supports them). I generally agree with this, but there are pockets of stability. I work for a Japanese Auto supplier and the management style really doesn't do layoffs or contract. Been here 11 years, she has been (at same company) for 15.

amyable

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #54 on: November 19, 2014, 06:49:55 PM »
Between my masters degree in psych and the hubs law degree, we owed over 100,000...maybe 120,000.  His law degree was totally and completely worth it.  Mine, not so much.  Our parents helped out, but we were young and I was stupid.  Our student loans funded our degrees, some lovely vacations, tech gadgets (like a digital camera when they were new and cool), and plenty of fun.  After school we piled on the debt with cars (25k), a boat (15k), etc.  We spent three years dumping money into our loans and paid them down to 40,000 which is consolidated at 1.8% and a hefty mortgage.  Those can stay for now.

Do you mind if I ask about your degree? I have ongoing debates with many people about the employability of psych degrees. (Currently trying to convince a cousin to study something that is a hard science or skill).  While I have never seen an engineering / computer science / nursing / finance / accounting    graduate struggle to get a job in their field, I have seen people with sociology / psychology / criminal justice / english / spanish / journalism  struggle to find work that is in their area with a living wage.  Is this the case with you?

That's just my experience, I would love to hear from someone who had a different one.

I'm a school counselor, just finishing my MA, and I love my job; however, in many states teaching experience is required to become certified even if you're a licensed counselor.  There's a great balance between advising families about college / careers, scheduling, working with teachers, etc. and one-on-one counseling.  It's not all about working with students in crisis which would be really, really hard.  My take home pay is about 40k, and I get summers off.  In my area, it's not hard to find a job, but I don't think that's true elsewhere. 

I think an MSW would yield more job opportunities than a Master's in Psych in most areas.  I have a friend who is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who makes like $80,000, but I don't know that much about her training.  I know she had to do a lot of back-tracking from a Psych degree, like basically getting a BA in Nursing, but it might be a more lucrative option for someone who likes the mental health field. 

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #55 on: November 20, 2014, 08:54:39 AM »
31 year old here, technically a millenial (I think)
went to college @ local commuter branch of big name state college.
Bachelors in Engineering.
Paid for college w/ a part time job (@Best Buy), small loans, and later on a paid internship

Graduated with about 12k in loan debt, paying the minimum since it is a 2.1% interest rate.

I made some key choices that I wish more millenials would make:
Chose a general degree that is always in demand
Chose a commuter school to save on high room/board/etc costs
Kept a job and went to school (it is very possible)
Looked for a paid internship

College is not a 'right' or a 'requirement' it is a means to a goal, whatever that goal is to you. For me it was getting a job, and earning some flexibility in life choices.

Nicely done.
I'm 31. College at local state school, with some transfer in from the community college.
Paid tuition cash out of income from the 5 different jobs I worked. 1 of them 35+ hrs / week.
$0 debt on graduation. Actually I managed to start a savings account, a Roth IRA investment account, and buy myself some face-punch meals, cars, and other toys.
My degree is computer science.

Panly

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #56 on: November 20, 2014, 09:33:12 AM »

Being from a european country where student loans are unheard of,  these stories make me wonder:

Isn't the student loan concept the very best primer for a lifetime in debt ? 


After all, starting off in debt, makes people get used to carrying debt. By consequence, there will be no barriers against further forms of debt. 
I wouldn't be surprised that banks and CC companies lobby very hard to uncle sam to expand or at least maintain the student loans flow?


wifeytini623

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #57 on: November 20, 2014, 03:03:59 PM »
Ready to shit your pants? I have a dear friend from college who just graduated med school to the tune of $450k. His wife also just graduated med school -- with $350k in debt. I cannot imagine what the monthly payment must be or how they're handling that. I'm dying to pry but I don't want to be rude.

On a happier note, we are allllmost done paying down $62k worth of debt I acquired in college (student loans). We're down to the last $4k :)

Guses

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #58 on: November 21, 2014, 10:15:21 AM »
Boohooooo my story is the saddest ever... :'(

I went to Undergrad University for a B.sc. in STEM almost free of charge because I received merit scolarships, because I busted ass in high school, that covered 80% of tuition. I stayed with my granparents during this time. I also collected all of the loans that I could apply for since they were 0% until end of my studies. I promptly invested the loans in safe ventures (GIC and market linked GICs).

I then did a Masters in STEM from another university in another city where I shared an appartment with my GF. I received merit scolarships(not taxable income) again that covered MUCH more than my tuition and also was teaching assistant for extra $. I again applied for all the loans I qualified for and invested those.

At the end of my M. Sc., I had 36,000$ in the bank after repaying my loans. So much QQ... 


viper155

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #59 on: November 21, 2014, 11:59:54 AM »
Here is a, not sad, but odd one....my daughter is about to graduate from a prestigous engineering school and my sons private business education is fully funded by cash flowing their education with my hard work and sweat. 8 years and I never spent one check except for tuition. Now it's all over. No debt. No more work. FI

nawhite

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #60 on: November 21, 2014, 12:08:23 PM »
Boohooooo my story is the saddest ever... :'(

I went to Undergrad University for a B.sc. in STEM almost free of charge because I received merit scolarships, because I busted ass in high school, that covered 80% of tuition. I stayed with my granparents during this time. I also collected all of the loans that I could apply for since they were 0% until end of my studies. I promptly invested the loans in safe ventures (GIC and market linked GICs).

I then did a Masters in STEM from another university in another city where I shared an appartment with my GF. I received merit scolarships(not taxable income) again that covered MUCH more than my tuition and also was teaching assistant for extra $. I again applied for all the loans I qualified for and invested those.

At the end of my M. Sc., I had 36,000$ in the bank after repaying my loans. So much QQ...

Amazing. I wish more schools offered decent Merit Based scholarships. My old school got rid of them while I was attending so that they could offer more Need-Based aid.

frugalnacho

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #61 on: November 21, 2014, 12:24:28 PM »
Boohooooo my story is the saddest ever... :'(

I went to Undergrad University for a B.sc. in STEM almost free of charge because I received merit scolarships, because I busted ass in high school, that covered 80% of tuition. I stayed with my granparents during this time. I also collected all of the loans that I could apply for since they were 0% until end of my studies. I promptly invested the loans in safe ventures (GIC and market linked GICs).

I then did a Masters in STEM from another university in another city where I shared an appartment with my GF. I received merit scolarships(not taxable income) again that covered MUCH more than my tuition and also was teaching assistant for extra $. I again applied for all the loans I qualified for and invested those.

At the end of my M. Sc., I had 36,000$ in the bank after repaying my loans. So much QQ...

Amazing. I wish more schools offered decent Merit Based scholarships. My old school got rid of them while I was attending so that they could offer more Need-Based aid.

I thought they all offered merit based scholarships.  The one I attended did and gave several to some people at my school (full tuition covered).  I got a partial one that covered some of the first two years.

kayveetee

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #62 on: November 21, 2014, 01:50:11 PM »
Facepunch to me! Graduated in May 2013 with $50k in student loan debt for my Master's degree that turned out to be pretty much worthless in the area where I live. I was reluctant to enter the degree program in the first place because the cost made me hyperventilate, but it really is my dream to work in that field, and all of my doctor/lawyer/grad student friends (plus my BF-now-DH) convinced me that that's just how life works, everybody has student loan debt and they deal with it one minimum payment at a time for the next decade or two, duh!

So now I'm underemployed, but making more money than I could in my field even if my field would hire me. Enter MMM this past summer; two months of furiously reading through the archives, several spreadsheets, and one come-to-Jesus talk with DH later, we have a plan to pay off the student loans with our big-city paychecks and then haul ass to a smaller town where the cost of living is much lower and FI is only a few years away.

FACEPUNCH COMPLETE

4alpacas

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #63 on: November 21, 2014, 02:34:25 PM »
Boohooooo my story is the saddest ever... :'(

I went to Undergrad University for a B.sc. in STEM almost free of charge because I received merit scolarships, because I busted ass in high school, that covered 80% of tuition. I stayed with my granparents during this time. I also collected all of the loans that I could apply for since they were 0% until end of my studies. I promptly invested the loans in safe ventures (GIC and market linked GICs).

I then did a Masters in STEM from another university in another city where I shared an appartment with my GF. I received merit scolarships(not taxable income) again that covered MUCH more than my tuition and also was teaching assistant for extra $. I again applied for all the loans I qualified for and invested those.

At the end of my M. Sc., I had 36,000$ in the bank after repaying my loans. So much QQ...

Amazing. I wish more schools offered decent Merit Based scholarships. My old school got rid of them while I was attending so that they could offer more Need-Based aid.

I thought they all offered merit based scholarships.  The one I attended did and gave several to some people at my school (full tuition covered).  I got a partial one that covered some of the first two years.
+1


nawhite

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #64 on: November 21, 2014, 03:18:28 PM »
Boohooooo my story is the saddest ever... :'(

I went to Undergrad University for a B.sc. in STEM almost free of charge because I received merit scolarships, because I busted ass in high school, that covered 80% of tuition. I stayed with my granparents during this time. I also collected all of the loans that I could apply for since they were 0% until end of my studies. I promptly invested the loans in safe ventures (GIC and market linked GICs).

I then did a Masters in STEM from another university in another city where I shared an appartment with my GF. I received merit scolarships(not taxable income) again that covered MUCH more than my tuition and also was teaching assistant for extra $. I again applied for all the loans I qualified for and invested those.

At the end of my M. Sc., I had 36,000$ in the bank after repaying my loans. So much QQ...

Amazing. I wish more schools offered decent Merit Based scholarships. My old school got rid of them while I was attending so that they could offer more Need-Based aid.

I thought they all offered merit based scholarships.  The one I attended did and gave several to some people at my school (full tuition covered).  I got a partial one that covered some of the first two years.
+1

I just looked it up and apparently it wasn't gotten rid of completely, just gutted. Carnegie Mellon's only merit-based scholarship is the Carnegie Scholarship. I got one and it only covered about 20% of tuition. While it was nice, it certainly wasn't anywhere near enough to support a story like Guses. Most Ivies are similar. Have a financial need? Receive 100% of your need in grants. You're the most amazing applicant they've ever seen but you have rich parents? Get just enough money to choose their school over another.

The important part is that I wish more schools offered decent merit based scholarships.

Guses

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #65 on: November 21, 2014, 03:32:41 PM »
In Canada, most undergrad programs at University offer merit based scolarships (you do need above 9.0/10 GPA to even consider getting one though).

During my graduate program, I was actually funded by a provincial science funding agency.

Pooperman

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #66 on: November 21, 2014, 03:37:44 PM »
Boohooooo my story is the saddest ever... :'(

I went to Undergrad University for a B.sc. in STEM almost free of charge because I received merit scolarships, because I busted ass in high school, that covered 80% of tuition. I stayed with my granparents during this time. I also collected all of the loans that I could apply for since they were 0% until end of my studies. I promptly invested the loans in safe ventures (GIC and market linked GICs).

I then did a Masters in STEM from another university in another city where I shared an appartment with my GF. I received merit scolarships(not taxable income) again that covered MUCH more than my tuition and also was teaching assistant for extra $. I again applied for all the loans I qualified for and invested those.

At the end of my M. Sc., I had 36,000$ in the bank after repaying my loans. So much QQ...

Amazing. I wish more schools offered decent Merit Based scholarships. My old school got rid of them while I was attending so that they could offer more Need-Based aid.

I thought they all offered merit based scholarships.  The one I attended did and gave several to some people at my school (full tuition covered).  I got a partial one that covered some of the first two years.
+1

I just looked it up and apparently it wasn't gotten rid of completely, just gutted. Carnegie Mellon's only merit-based scholarship is the Carnegie Scholarship. I got one and it only covered about 20% of tuition. While it was nice, it certainly wasn't anywhere near enough to support a story like Guses. Most Ivies are similar. Have a financial need? Receive 100% of your need in grants. You're the most amazing applicant they've ever seen but you have rich parents? Get just enough money to choose their school over another.

The important part is that I wish more schools offered decent merit based scholarships.

I was offered an 80% merit scholarship to U-Conn. I wasn't paying so I ended up going somewhere else. I believe it was called the 'President's ' something (award, scholarship, I don't recall). It didn't pay for everything, but it was pretty close. Only would have cost me 4k to attend four years not including books, food, lodging.

If it matters, my GPA at the time was 94/100 or there abouts.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 03:43:15 PM by Pooperman »

TreeTired

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #67 on: November 21, 2014, 03:45:47 PM »
With help from grandparents we started saving for college when each of our 2 kids was born.  Son #1 went to an expensive private university, but his $12,000 per year merit scholarship helped reduce the cost, to around $30k per year.   Son #2 went to community college and then transferred and graduated from a relatively inexpensive state university, so even tho he is unemployed he still has a lot of leftover college funds to live on for the time being.... oh, sorry, wrong thread.  Son #1 had many friends with big loan balances at his expensive university.  He told me about one kid who would draw down his regular loan every semester and when he was on co-op (and no tuition was due) he would spend the loan proceeds on electronics.

resy

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #68 on: November 21, 2014, 05:06:43 PM »
Husband's loan is 80k...for a degree he firgured out wasn't for him. Worst part? I married the dude so I have a student loan now minus the degree lol

seanc0x0

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #69 on: November 21, 2014, 08:06:00 PM »
In Canada, most undergrad programs at University offer merit based scolarships (you do need above 9.0/10 GPA to even consider getting one though).

During my graduate program, I was actually funded by a provincial science funding agency.

At my University, in Canada, so few people applied for scholarships that often all you needed to do to get one was apply. Only applicant = award is yours!

Guses

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #70 on: November 22, 2014, 06:04:15 AM »
In Canada, most undergrad programs at University offer merit based scolarships (you do need above 9.0/10 GPA to even consider getting one though).

During my graduate program, I was actually funded by a provincial science funding agency.

At my University, in Canada, so few people applied for scholarships that often all you needed to do to get one was apply. Only applicant = award is yours!

Generally speaking, this is true of local targeted scolarships (e.g., scolarship for aboriginal students working in history). That is not the case for scolarships given by the federal and provincial funding agencies.

In US, does the NSF/NIH give out scolarships?

 

SwordGuy

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #71 on: November 22, 2014, 07:58:51 AM »
I'm trying to resist the urge to turn this thread into a discussion about how H1-Bs and the alleged shortage of "qualified" people is bullshit.

H1-Bs are definitely used by some companies to get cheaper labor.    Easiest way to fix that is to allow the H1-B visa holder to work at any job for any employer once they are in the country and to forbid employment contracts that make them repay any relocation expenses to their employer.   

That said, although there is not a shortage of people in the IT field, there is a definite shortage of COMPETENT people.

I've cleaned up after a hell of a lot of the incompetent ones.

Goldielocks

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #72 on: November 22, 2014, 08:39:06 AM »
In Canada, most undergrad programs at University offer merit based scolarships (you do need above 9.0/10 GPA to even consider getting one though).

During my graduate program, I was actually funded by a provincial science funding agency.

At my University, in Canada, so few people applied for scholarships that often all you needed to do to get one was apply. Only applicant = award is yours!

Ha!  I applied for the scholarship given to high merit applicants plus cross country skiier -- in BC no less.   Based exclusively on my passion for skiing from growing up in winnipeg as a child.  lol.. Did not get it.  likely it did not get a recipient that year either...

I did manage to get about 6 different scholarships, most about $1k each, and a couple that repeated for 4 years at that level.  This was with very high scores and a lot of affiliate organizations through parents work, insurance, church programs, etc..     

The only "large" scholarships (more than 50% merit funding) at that time were give to top 1-2 students at each school, required a principal recommendation letter that they were the top student, etc. 


Malaysia41

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #73 on: November 22, 2014, 09:09:02 AM »
You guys are making me feel very thankful.  I need to call my parents and thank them yet again for paying for my undergrad BS degree in engineering.  (I did contribute with a merit scholarship and work study and odd jobs here - but they paid for most of it).

Okay I have a few:

Other day talking to a freelance webdesigner: She went to some private art school on the East Coast and says she'll be paying it off until through 2020.  She graduated more than 5 years ago I believe.  She says she makes as much now with web design as she did before getting a degree.

I waited tables one summer in college PT.  One of the FT employees bought us all drinks after work one day to celebrate having paid off his student loan - after 15 years.  Did you catch the part where I mentioned he was waiting tables?


(sort of related): Before recenty FIREing, I spoke with a VP over lunch.  He lamented he'd never retire - he needs > $1M to get his two kids through school. One is going to 'the very best' medical school in the U.K.  I asked why his kid didn't pay for some of it.  He looked at me like I was crazy.

Every student loan horror story makes me appreciate my parent's gift that much more (but I can tell you they didn't spend $1M).  Thanks mom.  Thanks dad.  Love you.

mm1970

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #74 on: November 22, 2014, 09:11:56 AM »
Boohooooo my story is the saddest ever... :'(

I went to Undergrad University for a B.sc. in STEM almost free of charge because I received merit scolarships, because I busted ass in high school, that covered 80% of tuition. I stayed with my granparents during this time. I also collected all of the loans that I could apply for since they were 0% until end of my studies. I promptly invested the loans in safe ventures (GIC and market linked GICs).

I then did a Masters in STEM from another university in another city where I shared an appartment with my GF. I received merit scolarships(not taxable income) again that covered MUCH more than my tuition and also was teaching assistant for extra $. I again applied for all the loans I qualified for and invested those.

At the end of my M. Sc., I had 36,000$ in the bank after repaying my loans. So much QQ...

Amazing. I wish more schools offered decent Merit Based scholarships. My old school got rid of them while I was attending so that they could offer more Need-Based aid.

I thought they all offered merit based scholarships.  The one I attended did and gave several to some people at my school (full tuition covered).  I got a partial one that covered some of the first two years.
+1

I just looked it up and apparently it wasn't gotten rid of completely, just gutted. Carnegie Mellon's only merit-based scholarship is the Carnegie Scholarship. I got one and it only covered about 20% of tuition. While it was nice, it certainly wasn't anywhere near enough to support a story like Guses. Most Ivies are similar. Have a financial need? Receive 100% of your need in grants. You're the most amazing applicant they've ever seen but you have rich parents? Get just enough money to choose their school over another.

The important part is that I wish more schools offered decent merit based scholarships.
Hi!!

I went to Carnegie Mellon. I got need-based aid, but still had to borrow.  Freshman year, it was about $6k (1988, tuition was $12k, room and board probably about 3k). So it by no means covered everything.

Ended up joining ROTC as a freshman, and got a 3 year scholarship, meaning I only borrowed about $5k more in the next three years.

I get lots of phone calls from CMU asking for donations.  I've made exactly two.  At this point, my spare money goes to my kid's elementary school and my 2 kids' 529 plans.

mm1970

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #75 on: November 22, 2014, 09:20:28 AM »
Quote
Do you mind if I ask about your degree? I have ongoing debates with many people about the employability of psych degrees. (Currently trying to convince a cousin to study something that is a hard science or skill).  While I have never seen an engineering / computer science / nursing / finance / accounting    graduate struggle to get a job in their field, I have seen people with sociology / psychology / criminal justice / english / spanish / journalism  struggle to find work that is in their area with a living wage.  Is this the case with you?

I'm an engineering student and I'm active on /r/engineering and /r/engineeringstudents on reddit. With more students flocking towards STEM degrees for jobs, the job market is getting more and more competitive. Internships are competitive. Wages are stagnating or dropping. People are sending out hundreds of apps for internships/ jobs and getting no responses. You really need to work hard, even in STEM degrees, to make yourself hireable. It's no cake walk.

I'll add my experience with a two-engineer household. The market is competitive and most jobs are based on contracts. Company loses a contract? Everyone laid off. Company gets a contract? HUGE hiring spree. Seems to go in 2-4 year cycles. Hiring/Layoff/Hiring/Layoff is pretty typical with any companies that depend on government contracts. Unless you live for work, it can be difficult to stay at a job 5 years. Then once you are laid off there is huge competition.

The other really difficult thing with STEM jobs  is that its difficult to find a replacement job in your area. You easily get pidgeonholed into whatever industry/specialty your first job out of college is. Your job search has a high possibility that you will need to relocate unless your area is rich in your industry. You can get a little behind others when you have to relocate and start over every 5 years. Add a second person who needs to find a job in their niche the job search gets that much harder.

This is only my experience and may not be commonplace.
The industry and year makes a huge difference.  5 years ago there was a slump in our area.  We were able to hire four engineering/science majors (3 BS, 1 MS) as hourly technicians.  We trained them and over the next few years they were all promoted to engineers.  But 2 of the 3 are serious rock stars (in my humble opinion, they had a great boss) and who knows how they would have done in a better market.

I am in a small town (Santa Barbara) and job hopping is a challenge here.  There aren't that many jobs here.  Some of the companies are government contractors with the hire-and-layoff cycle that you have mentioned.  There are one or two small steady companies, and a few startups.

One of my former bosses came here from the Bay Area, and the guy has such a great amount of experience in many areas - that is harder to get here.  Aside from semiconductor, we have medical manufacturing and plastics.  Well, they aren't at all like semiconductor.  So if you are lucky enough to get a job in a new area, you are certainly taking a pay cut.  But mostly, as a senior person, you are only likely to get in if you know someone there.

elnion

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #76 on: November 23, 2014, 01:45:17 PM »
Oh, also, I have a bunch of acquaintances and coworkers who took out loans to get masters degrees in counseling and social work at expensive private schools (Northwestern, University of Chicago, etc.) It blows my mind. Social work grads are a dime a dozen in Chicago, and you're lucky if you pull in 35,000-40,000 a year as an entry-level salary. It makes me batty.

I'm a University of Chicago graduate student (PhD in the sciences, I'm on a national fellowship and get paid a stipend, so no loans for me) and I occasionally go to these mixer or meet-up or whatever events for graduate students across the University (free food!).  Inevitably 90% of the graduate students who show up to these events are MAPSS students, which is basically a Master's degree in "Social Science".  It's not even in a particular thing, it's just "Social Science".  As far as I can tell, it's a way for people to put a "fancy" school on their resume.

It's a one year program, with no particular job outcomes (of those listed, it looks like they're in the $30-$50K/yr range), and the tuition is $49,644, with an estimated total cost of $72,072 (incl. the estimated living expenses). I always feel really sad for the students I meet.

But I guess someone has to pay for our landscaping and administrator's salaries...

elnion

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #77 on: November 23, 2014, 02:12:35 PM »
In Canada, most undergrad programs at University offer merit based scolarships (you do need above 9.0/10 GPA to even consider getting one though).

During my graduate program, I was actually funded by a provincial science funding agency.

At my University, in Canada, so few people applied for scholarships that often all you needed to do to get one was apply. Only applicant = award is yours!

Generally speaking, this is true of local targeted scolarships (e.g., scolarship for aboriginal students working in history). That is not the case for scolarships given by the federal and provincial funding agencies.

In US, does the NSF/NIH give out scolarships?

 

(Apologies for the double post, saw this after I wrote the other response)

Yes, they do.  The NIH has 2-year Training Grants, which are typically a number of slots awarded to a University entity (a department, a graduate program, etc.).  This covers tuition in some amount, and pays the student a stipend at the current NIH graduate student rate (it was $28,500/year when I started grad school, I think it's up to $29K or so now).  They're awarded to students by the University entity that gets the slots, so the competitiveness for them varies a bit, and is generally very local in any case (but most programs get on the order of 2, maybe 4, slots a year).

The NSF has the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which is a three year fellowship that awards $12000 to the University per year, and gives the student a $32,000/year stipend, which is increased every couple of years.  The GRFP is generally considered a fairly competitive fellowship with about 2000 awards a year across the US.

There's also a handful of other fellowships through either private foundations (Hertz, some others), which tend to be even more competitive than the GRFP, and there's some other government ones, such as the NDSEG which is military related, and some field-specific Dept. of Energy fellowships.

To my knowledge, these are all for Ph.D. students, and don't apply if you're in a Master's program.

In general, the fellowships don't cover all of the 'official' tuition, and the difference between the tuition covered by the fellowship and the 'official' amount is covered by 'University Gift Aid'.  This is, of course, just the University paying money to themselves, especially since the vast majority of credits taken by Ph.D. graduate students are "Research", aka doing your job for the University.  Oddly enough, for most students who don't get fellowships, the 'gift aid' gets bigger... (and actually comes out of the advisor's grant money).  The upshot of all of this is that in general, STEM Ph.D.s receive a small salary, rather than paying, for their degree.

(Source: I was fortunate enough to receive both a 2-year NIH training grant and a 3-year NSF Fellowship back-to-back.)

intirb

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #78 on: November 24, 2014, 09:53:52 AM »

To my knowledge, these are all for Ph.D. students, and don't apply if you're in a Master's program.

In general, the fellowships don't cover all of the 'official' tuition, and the difference between the tuition covered by the fellowship and the 'official' amount is covered by 'University Gift Aid'.  This is, of course, just the University paying money to themselves, especially since the vast majority of credits taken by Ph.D. graduate students are "Research", aka doing your job for the University.  Oddly enough, for most students who don't get fellowships, the 'gift aid' gets bigger... (and actually comes out of the advisor's grant money).  The upshot of all of this is that in general, STEM Ph.D.s receive a small salary, rather than paying, for their degree.

(Source: I was fortunate enough to receive both a 2-year NIH training grant and a 3-year NSF Fellowship back-to-back.)

I think you can use the NSF for a Master's degree, but you're right about the others.

Some of those fellowships do pay full tuition, but for the ones that don't, the universities aren't paying themselves tuition - usually the shortfall comes from federal research grants. 

RunningWithScissors

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #79 on: November 24, 2014, 01:28:38 PM »
I managed to stay loan free for the first four years of my post-secondary education, by working summers and during school.  However, when I went to an Ivy League university in the States, the combination of tuition and living costs ended up costing $85,000 after 3 years.  This was back in the 1990's when the Canadian dollar was running $0.65 to the American one.  Still not sure it was worth it, but I'm still in the career that these loans allowed me to follow.

Took me about three years to pay off $85,000 on a gross salary of $40,000.  Gave me the financial discipline to spend the next two years after the loan was repaid getting a $37,000 down payment for the house which was exactly 25% of the value of my first house, so I escaped needing CMHC insurance (additional 1-2% added to the value which only protects the bank if you default).  Getting on the property ladder in my twenties has had the biggest impact on my net worth, but I wouldn't want to be starting out today. 

crabbyjo

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #80 on: November 24, 2014, 02:04:09 PM »
$70,000 balance here, consolidated federal loans at 3.1.  I am in my 30s and make a good salary (loans funded a law degree and a masters).
I started with over $110,000  could have paid more aggressively, but overall I am OK with my decision as this has allowed me to accumulate a solid retirement nest egg for my age. 

soontoberichteacher

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #81 on: November 24, 2014, 02:16:03 PM »
I thought I was going to be in a ton of trouble with a $20k of student debt. This will be after finishing my Masters program this summer. I will still treat it like an emergency, of course, but it give me some comfort to think that the debt could be a lot bigger. (It helped that I got a scholarship for undergrad.)

Good luck to anyone paying off huge student loan debt! My sister has over $150k from med school, and I can't imagine the monthly payments.

ralfeg7

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #82 on: November 24, 2014, 02:19:10 PM »
Happy Story: Graduated with about $17,000 in debt. First job pays $15 and hour, work there a year they promote me, make me salaried and give me 4% raise. I tell them to shove it and find another company willing to pay me 60K a year for my brains. I also get 1 week more vacation, get my phone bill paid for by company, get to travel all across the country, get to work from home when I want, and get half day Fridays every week of the year!

I leave, start new job, and finish paying off student loans in 8 months after starting new job (I had $800 in my savings after I made my last payment). It was tough but I DID IT!

Sad Story: During said college experience I shack up with female in same field but who pursues a master's degree. Now we are engaged, she has a good job but makes what I do and has $80,000 left in loans (she's actually been paying them down for 2 years).

I know it's not totally sad, we both have good jobs and we are definitely making progress. But after saving so hard to pay off my debt it's a little disheartening to now tackle an obstacle 4X as large.


Helvegen

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #83 on: November 25, 2014, 01:08:28 PM »

Being from a european country where student loans are unheard of,  these stories make me wonder:


Which one is that?

Last year, my husband and I went back to Germany to visit friends and family. We swung by an old friend of my husband's house and talked for awhile about what he had been up to. He was in school for...I'm not exactly sure anymore. The memorable part of the conversation was that he was 75,000 euro in private student loan debt. I didn't even know this was possible. He said it was mostly to pay for his living expenses while at uni for the past 6 or whatever years it has been. The guy acted like it was no big deal. We asked what starting salaries were in his field. Oh around 35,000 euro. That will definitely pay it off fast in his estimation. We asked what the interest rates were. He had no idea. We are all in our mid 30s, so it was a bit too old to have no clue. My husband and I couldn't even think of what to say, this was worse level of student debt than a lot of people we know in the US, and changed the subject.

I started out with around $22k in student loan debt. It is down to $14k, most of that paid within the past year. Before I was just able to kick the can with a bunch of federal hardship programs and my interest rate is very low. Now I can finally afford to pay it down and I am. My husband got his AS from a community college here with no debt. I refused to let him make the same mistake I did. He makes way more money than me with his zero debt AS than I do with my BA I am still paying for.  Heh, oh well.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #84 on: November 30, 2014, 02:05:21 PM »
I think student loan debt can be good or bad, just like any other debt. The phrase student loan debt seems to carry a negative aura with it these days and I think that is unfortunate. I think buying too much car or too much house is worse.

stevedoug

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #85 on: December 04, 2014, 02:42:29 PM »
31 year old here, technically a millenial (I think)
went to college @ local commuter branch of big name state college.
Bachelors in Engineering.
Paid for college w/ a part time job (@Best Buy), small loans, and later on a paid internship

Graduated with about 12k in loan debt, paying the minimum since it is a 2.1% interest rate.

I made some key choices that I wish more millenials would make:
Chose a general degree that is always in demand
Chose a commuter school to save on high room/board/etc costs
Kept a job and went to school (it is very possible)
Looked for a paid internship

College is not a 'right' or a 'requirement' it is a means to a goal, whatever that goal is to you. For me it was getting a job, and earning some flexibility in life choices.

Nicely done.
I'm 31. College at local state school, with some transfer in from the community college.
Paid tuition cash out of income from the 5 different jobs I worked. 1 of them 35+ hrs / week.
$0 debt on graduation. Actually I managed to start a savings account, a Roth IRA investment account, and buy myself some face-punch meals, cars, and other toys.
My degree is computer science.

Apparently it is possible, despite the doom and gloom of media

Cheers

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #86 on: December 08, 2014, 08:49:39 AM »
Apparently it is possible, despite the doom and gloom of media

Cheers

Possible, certainly.
Problem is most people aren't willing to work that hard. Give them the choice between $0 debt/working while in school and taking loans, and they'll take the loans. Receive the general studies degree in non-STEM field, and then complain when they have to pay large portions of their income to the loans.

This is my experience with friends and extended family.

jrmrjnck

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #87 on: December 08, 2014, 11:58:50 AM »
Here's a crazy story I saw on reddit yesterday: http://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/2olxq5/230000_student_loan_payoff_strategy_advice/.

This person managed to rack up $230k for a 4 year bachelor's degree, and it's all in the father's name. Instead of paying it off (which they could easily do in 10-15 years), they're planning to make minimum IBR payments and rely on the loan being forgiven after 25 years, or the father dying before that and having the debt erased. With payments of only $550/mo, the loan will grow to over $1M after 25 years...

sleepyguy

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #88 on: December 08, 2014, 12:23:14 PM »
It's mind boggling these loan amounts in the US... with a point of view coming from Ontario, Canada.  For us Canadians you have to apply through the Ontario Government to be permitted by banks to loan you a certain amount, it's call OSAP.  Also the payment plans are quite good and interest and payments are held until you graduate.

I can't imagine starting a career with over 100k debt with interest over 7% or something crazy.  Considering most careers start in the $40-45k range that is quite a mountain to climb.  Private loans for University for US is messed up... going on youtube you can see so many rants about student loans, mostly from US students.

I know of people who have enormous student loans but they are doing fine.  Both are surgeons (and probably the most Anti-MMM people you'll ever meet!) now.  Each of them had over 150k student loans, but they make about 400k/yr.  So in relative terms they are fine.

Spoom

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #89 on: December 08, 2014, 12:36:53 PM »
I fully paid my way through a very competent Computer Programming course at the local (quite cheap) community college.  I graduated and immediately the guilt from my parents (mostly my mom) started.  She accused me of "giving up on my dream of getting a Computer Science degree" when I was considering seeking out a full time position (since I had a bunch of experience with professional development already).  Eventually I gave in and applied, and the university took me in.

Two years later, I had $14,000 of debt and very little to show for it, and I was leaving to move to the US to marry my (now) wife.  Now, my thinking is that it's a good thing I cut my losses early.

It's funny, I don't feel like I'm missing much while doing professional web development nowadays.  The community college course gave me some theoretical backing, and most of the web dev stuff I learned on my own anyway.

Debt is down to ~$7,000 and we plan to kill it in the next year or so.  Still, I consider it a very expensive lesson that education has to be carefully planned... and to do what I want to do with my life, not what others expect of me.

Edit: I will say that, having come from Ontario, OSAP (and the National Student Loan Service Center in general) are quite good compared to just about everything I've heard about US student loans.  The current interest rate isn't great (5.5%) but they have been quite fair and have reduced my payments to interest-only during times of hardship (like when I moved to the US and legally couldn't work for ~6 months).
« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 12:40:24 PM by Spoom »

stevedoug

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #90 on: December 08, 2014, 02:32:07 PM »
Apparently it is possible, despite the doom and gloom of media

Cheers

Possible, certainly.
Problem is most people aren't willing to work that hard. Give them the choice between $0 debt/working while in school and taking loans, and they'll take the loans. Receive the general studies degree in non-STEM field, and then complain when they have to pay large portions of their income to the loans.

This is my experience with friends and extended family.

It is definitely hard work, for a semester or two I worked an internship, full time class schedule, and nights/weekends as Sales as Best Buy. I was tired, a lot. It isn't for everyone though. I don't fault anyone for taking a out a moderate college loan. As long as the return on investment is there.

Really people need to be better educated on this stuff. College decision making starts around 16 years old. Who the hell knows what is going on at 16? I was very lucky to have an older sister to offer advice

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #91 on: December 08, 2014, 02:38:08 PM »


It is definitely hard work, for a semester or two I worked an internship, full time class schedule, and nights/weekends as Sales as Best Buy. I was tired, a lot. It isn't for everyone though. I don't fault anyone for taking a out a moderate college loan. As long as the return on investment is there.

Really people need to be better educated on this stuff. College decision making starts around 16 years old. Who the hell knows what is going on at 16? I was very lucky to have an older sister to offer advice

Good on you for doing that. It sure is hard work. I just couldn't get in line with all the other kids taking FAFSA forms for their jounalism/sociology/english degrees. My degree is STEM, but even then I was afraid of graduating and having payments due and no income.  My parents are people, not a bank.

Lots of kids these days have come to expect a hand out. I'm disgusted by that attitude.
Could I have invested the cash I spent on tuition and made some money doing so? Maybe, but that was long before I joined the MMM lifestyle.

Sibley

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #92 on: February 10, 2015, 02:46:19 PM »
Private college, lived on campus for 4 years. Non-financially, it was the best decision for me. Financially... could have been worse, could have been better.

I did get scholarships and grants which covered about 50%. Bought books used when I could, resold them, etc. Overall didn't spend extra money. My loan balance is currently $16k, down from about $25k I think. That will be paid off in 2-3 years (cc debt is first right now). However, my parents also took out parent plus loans. I feel obligated to pay them back for mine, as they're not in a position to handle them long-term. No idea what that balance is though. I asked my mom and she didn't know and didn't want to look it up.

Wish I'd found MMM about 5 years earlier, but I'm on the right track now.

Malaysia41

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #93 on: February 10, 2015, 03:25:19 PM »
Private college, lived on campus for 4 years. Non-financially, it was the best decision for me. Financially... could have been worse, could have been better.

I did get scholarships and grants which covered about 50%. Bought books used when I could, resold them, etc. Overall didn't spend extra money. My loan balance is currently $16k, down from about $25k I think. That will be paid off in 2-3 years (cc debt is first right now). However, my parents also took out parent plus loans. I feel obligated to pay them back for mine, as they're not in a position to handle them long-term. No idea what that balance is though. I asked my mom and she didn't know and didn't want to look it up.

Wish I'd found MMM about 5 years earlier, but I'm on the right track now.

Wow.  This comment is breathtaking. 

Such a common and pervasive American attitude toward debt and money. 

Many of my family members need to get a handle on their financial situation, but they prefer to be willfully ignorant.  Your mom's reluctance reminds me of them.

frugalnacho

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #94 on: February 10, 2015, 04:04:29 PM »
Private college, lived on campus for 4 years. Non-financially, it was the best decision for me. Financially... could have been worse, could have been better.

I did get scholarships and grants which covered about 50%. Bought books used when I could, resold them, etc. Overall didn't spend extra money. My loan balance is currently $16k, down from about $25k I think. That will be paid off in 2-3 years (cc debt is first right now). However, my parents also took out parent plus loans. I feel obligated to pay them back for mine, as they're not in a position to handle them long-term. No idea what that balance is though. I asked my mom and she didn't know and didn't want to look it up.

Wish I'd found MMM about 5 years earlier, but I'm on the right track now.

Wow.  This comment is breathtaking. 

Such a common and pervasive American attitude toward debt and money. 

Many of my family members need to get a handle on their financial situation, but they prefer to be willfully ignorant.  Your mom's reluctance reminds me of them.

I have had this conversation numerous times with my parents about the loans they cosigned for my sister.  Not only can they not tell me the balance, they can't even tell me the exact number of outstanding loans there are.  Maybe 2? Maybe 3? Maybe 4? They have no idea.  They just want to bury their heads in the sand and hope it goes away.

Tabaxus

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #95 on: February 16, 2015, 07:03:01 AM »
I had about $175k in debt by the time I finished law school.

I got very lucky and it worked out for me.  But it doesn't work out for many, even at the level of school I went to.  And there are people who take out the same level of loans going to "lower-tier" schools that, rightly or wrongly, have FAR WORSE job prospects (talking maybe 10% of the class gets the "big firm" job that can pay for this level of debt, maybe even less).  Law school student loans are a cottage industry in human suffering.

Logic_Lady

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Re: Sad stories of high student loans, share yours.
« Reply #96 on: February 16, 2015, 09:35:59 AM »

Do you mind if I ask about your degree? I have ongoing debates with many people about the employability of psych degrees. (Currently trying to convince a cousin to study something that is a hard science or skill).  While I have never seen an engineering / computer science / nursing / finance / accounting    graduate struggle to get a job in their field, I have seen people with sociology / psychology / criminal justice / english / spanish / journalism  struggle to find work that is in their area with a living wage.  Is this the case with you?

My experience is that people focus way too much on the employability of a degree, when what really matters is the employability of the person. You can get a decent job with pretty much any degree (my current job requires a B.A., but it could be in anything from applied math to underwater basket weaving) as long as you are proactive and don't assume your degree will automatically lead to a job. I graduated a few years ago, so this isn't coming from a boomer who graduated when jobs were plentiful.

My advice to future/current college students would be to identify several career paths that would work with your degree, but are not necessarily directly related to your major if you're doing a liberal arts degree. For example, a psychology degree could lead to a job in HR, a teaching job, an admin job, a business consulting job (my friend did this with a psych degree), and any number of other career paths besides "psychologist." The key is to start looking at these jobs as soon as (or before) you start college, and start applying for internships/part-time jobs in these fields.

This advice applies to any major, but especially liberal arts majors--not because they are "less employable," but because a liberal arts degree is more general, as opposed to a degree that's geared to prepare you for a particular job. Since liberal arts degrees aren't professional training, you have to prepare for a specific job outside of class--i.e., in internships.  But the skills learned in a liberal arts degree (especially how to write well) will provide a good foundation for many different career paths.

I found that my classmates who focused only on school had trouble finding jobs, even if they studied hard sciences (for example, I had friends who majored in neuroscience and physics who couldn't get jobs right out of college), whereas those who were career-focused from the start and made sure to do plenty of internships and make connections had a lot more success, regardless of what they majored in.