As part of my day job, I’ve reviewed and analyzed tons of think-tanky reports claiming that the ginormous student loan debt problem is preventing our young people from contributing positively to society. The typical scenario, these reports assert, is that a hefty student loan debt discourages talented grads from pursuing high-fuzzy, but low-income professions (e.g., teaching); prevents them from stimulating the economy (e.g., buying a car or a home); and inhibits their ability to populate the earth (e.g., having a family).
Cut to Archie reviewing his finances in order to figure out his absolute maximum monthly payment on a mortgage.
For the record, if I had to do it all over again, I would have done it entirely differently. I would have opted to work for GW and used tuition remission benefits to fund my fake doctorate. And I would have sucked up the seven years it would have taken me to complete the degree while attending part-time.
As the grace period for repaying my student loans quickly winds down, I’ve been reminded that my student loan debt is $138,273. I know that’s chicken feed, considering that I do have a terminal degree. But, unlike doctors or lawyers, I’m not as easily able to make money with my doctorate.
The novelty of a “Woe-is-me-I-have-tons-of-student-loans” spiel wears off pretty easily when you realize that you’re going to have to make some major changes in your lifestyle (an extra $640/month’s worth under the Income Contingent repayment plan) to pay off those student loans.
More sobering is the realization that my $138,273 debt load significantly impacts the amount of money I can borrow for a mortgage. I’m supposed to hear back from Sophany from Bank of America later this week to find out the absolute maximum price I can play with. I already have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What’s that thing again about lowered expectations?
So for now, my student loan debt isn’t preventing me from pursuing something I’m passionate about (e.g., education), stimulating the economy (e.g., enjoying my daily Starbucks runs that I imagine will be phased out shortly), or starting a family (e.g., Brian). But every once in a while I feel it – I’m constantly reminded every time I see my diploma on the wall – a tinge of regret at smarter choices not taken.
But it is what it is. And it’ll only take 30 years to pay off my student loans. Add a 30-year mortgage to that and I may just be completely debt-free by the time I’m 60. Score!