Today, I logged into my Mint.com account. The number updates after a few seconds, as all my accounts come online. The transactions keep coming and the debt keeps accruing. There’s a big, bold number staring at me: $37,718.68 in debt.
Nowadays, when I look at the cup of Vanilla Chobani Greek Yogurt or tall coffee at Starbucks, I know it will end up costing me 6.8% more. Everything in my life will cost at least 6.8% more. Nothing is face value. Hello, student loan debt.
I am one of the privileged, fortunate souls where my undergraduate education was paid for by family. My parents and grandparents saved and saved – they compromised and cut-out from their own budgets to help me go to college. We never went on lavish vacations or purchased expensive things. We were a humble, middle-class family.
But now I’m in graduate school. Nobody expected I’d actually make it this far in my schooling – not even me. This is my second year in a doctoral program. The debt and interest is accruing, adding up, and spiraling out of control. People tell me it’s okay – that this is an investment – “you’re getting a Ph.D.!” In two years, I’ve amassed nearly $40,000 in debt.
I’m writing this to say it isn’t okay. Just because I’m spending the time to better myself doesn’t mean I should leave with six figures in loans. My partner recently asked how much I owe, what I might have by the time I graduate, and what my plan is to repay it.
I didn’t have an answer.
It prompted some sad questions: Would the amount of debt I have prevent somebody or scare them away from a serious relationship or marriage? Could debt be so burdensome, if shared, that people just avoid it at all costs?
The original question and the ensuing self-doubt prompted this post. This will be the first of many – a diary of sorts as I change this descending trajectory towards the pits of student loan hell.