Author Topic: Juggling debts in grad school  (Read 2584 times)

OctaviusIII

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 19
  • Location: Ithaca, NY
    • The Greater Marin
Juggling debts in grad school
« on: November 02, 2015, 11:19:38 PM »
So I have a rather significant amount of debt but, unfortunately, I'm going to incur more of it during my time at grad school. I've cut pretty much to the bone, so what I'm looking for is a way to mitigate the pain, i.e. interest rates, on my debt load before I can start to dig out.

Case study will come once my SO and I aren't crazy busy (I'm putting the pieces together), but for now here's a picture of my debts:

Loan NamePrincipalInterestMonthly
Student Loan$10,3305.84% starting 6/2017$0
Student Loan$6,6626.84%$0
Student Loan$8,2505.84% starting 6/2017$0
Credit Card$10,28715.99%$680
Credit Card$3,5000% until 4/2017$25
Credit Card$1,0000% until 12/2015$25
Car Loan$9,7584.78%$199
IRS$9,3601.30%$130

The low-interest loan payments are the minimums.

My current aim is to try to refinance as much of that credit card debt as possible with balance transfers to 0% cards, two of which you can already see, eventually paying it all off with parental-provisioned student loans and student income. My question is, are there any other ways to cut down on the weight of the debt? Do I actually have the payment plan priority straight?

johnny847

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3196
    • My Blog
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2015, 11:22:54 PM »
You're on the right track. Mathematically you should tackle the highest interest rate debt first, and work your way down.

Is there a mistake on your table? You've got $0 monthly payments on your second student loan but you don't mention a start date for it.


And Ithaca, NY eh? Sounds like you're going to grad school where I did my undergrad!

OctaviusIII

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 19
  • Location: Ithaca, NY
    • The Greater Marin
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2015, 11:26:23 PM »
Is there a mistake on your table? You've got $0 monthly payments on your second student loan but you don't mention a start date for it.

No minimum payments due until 6/2017, but interest is accumulating now. The other debts remain pure principal until 6/2017.

Freedomin5

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2002
  • Location: China
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 05:50:54 AM »
Any way to increase income by taking on a part-time job while you're in school? Like proofreading essays, being a private tutor to high school/undergrads, being a research assistant, etc.?

Also, any possibility of applying to all the external scholarships you can get your hands on? That's how I 'won' one of my scholarships -- no one else applied. Financially, it makes sense. If I spend 10 hours submitting scholarship applications, and just get one $1000 scholarship, that breaks down to 'earnings' of $100/hour.

Eric222

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 902
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2015, 06:05:32 AM »
Hi!  I've been here!  It does get better!

A few things to learn from my mistakes -

1) 0% balance transfers seem wonderful, but make sure you do the math.  There is generally some sort of fee (3%) to transfer the balance.  It is probably less than the interest, but make sure.

2)  Try not to worry about the student loans (as in get anxious over them).  They can't be dealt with right now, so put them out of your mind until post-graduation.

3)  Do you need the car?  It is Ithaca, so you very well may.  I lived in Atlanta and 'needed' my car. I didn't need my car.  If you don't need the car, you free up $200/month in payments, plus your insurance payments and gas.  Does your SO have a car?  Can you share?  Do you have a bike?

4)  This is a Dave Ramsey thing, but if you are temped to buy things with your credit card, putting them in a block of ice in the freezer did help me a lot in my pre-MMM days. 

5)  Depending on your parents, level of pride, and their financial situation they *may* be willing to help refinance that 10k of debt.  Going from 16% to 4% is huge.  I wish I'd gotten over my pride years sooner.  I was lucky, and my parents were generous in helping me take control of my debt.  Beware though, family and money can be a toxic mix.

These may not be useful/applicable to you, these are just things I wish I knew back when I was in grad school.

Good luck!  You can do it!  Grad school is a temporary state of being - it is hard in many ways, but I wouldn't trade what it taught me for anything.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2015, 06:07:20 AM »
Assuming you're at Cornell, there's pretty good local bus service within the Ithaca area, and regular buses to New York and Philadelphia. You don't need a car there. I hope you like winter...

johnny847

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3196
    • My Blog
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2015, 07:22:41 AM »
Echoing with the car thing, I went to Cornell and did not own a car during my four years there.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8325
  • Age: 62
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2015, 07:26:55 AM »
I did not have a car either. The buses go everywhere. You can also build up great leg muscles by walking to and from downtown.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2015, 07:57:07 AM »
Since it's partially a Cornell thread, are you two doing CAAAN information interviews with applicants? It is a nice way to volunteer both for Cornell and within one's community, and the $4 I spent on coffees for me and the kid I talked to on Saturday isn't going to hurt my FIRE date.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8325
  • Age: 62
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2015, 10:40:39 AM »
I did them years ago. Lots of fun. Thanks for the suggestion; I might pick it up again.

OctaviusIII

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 19
  • Location: Ithaca, NY
    • The Greater Marin
Re: Juggling debts in grad school
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2015, 01:26:58 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. The car is my SO's and she needs it for her long-ass commute to Binghamton, but I'm responsible for paying the loan on it. My parents are helping me out by donating $100/mo to the loan payments, which in effect makes it a $99 rather than $199 payment. I try not to use the car if I can, and next semester my wife's job will be 3 days rather than 5 days a week. We hate being car owners, but it's a necessary evil right now.

Parents are also helping with semesterly $8,250, 5.84% loans, which has been a monumental help in my first semester. The next tranche of loan payouts will go towards my CC debt after paying for school fees and tuition.

My personal income, complete with part-time job, is about $1,900 per month, pre-tax, and my wife is making another $3,300. The really sickening part of my debt is that, if we had come into grad school without any loans, we wouldn't need loans now with that kind of income. On top of my debt, she has her own student debt that she's paying down. figuring out how to dig out while at school, or if we can dig out, is a big reason we're going to do a case study. The math makes sense, but our lives seem to defy mathematical logic, so we need some help.