I’ve been thinking about the upcoming chapter in my life: Recent Law Grad, No Student Loans.
It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
I’m proud of how far I’ve come. However, as I get closer to being debt free, I’ve found it more and more difficult to talk to others about it. Whenever loans come up with my law school friends (which happens all the time and not just because I’m focused on them), they are so buried in debt they can’t imagine being debt free. Usually, I can’t even get to a point where I could comfortably share my story before the conversation turns sour and the subject is changed.
I don’t know what to do with this. I want to celebrate my achievement, but I don’t want others to feel bad. I want to show others that you can get out of student loan debt, but the excuses come faster than I can answer them. The conversation shifts so quickly into unrelateable worlds that I don’t know what to say.
My local bar association put out a survey recently about student loans. They wanted to know what you were paying each month, but not how much you owed. They wanted to know how your student loans were impacting your life, but not what you were doing about it. That bothered me. Are we all supposed to be suffering a hardship? I can’t be the only one standing up to my loans. I am genuinely curious to know how many people are accelerating their loans, so I asked a classmate what she thought. She didn’t really understand my question. She said her minimum payment should be $1400 on 10-year standard repayment. There was no room in her budget for anything at or above that. Instead of paying $1400, she’s on income-based and barely denting the interest. I suspect her overall balance is somewhere around $140,000.
With $140,000, she’s accepted that student loans are forever. Maybe they are for her. I can’t relate to her situation and she can’t relate to mine.
Having more than $100,000 in student loan debt isn’t abnormal in the law school graduate circle, but just because someone has that much, doesn’t mean that they can’t do anything about it. Yes, it will take sacrifice, but wouldn’t it be worth it? It can be done!
There isn’t an absence of people online paying off their law school debt early. At the high earning end of the spectrum, Mrs. DebtFreeJD is paying off $125,933.50 in the time it took to build the Empire State Building: 1 year and 45 days. In the middle, Natalie at The Finance Girl is tackling $206,000. She’s paying an extra $1,100 per month and has her debt down to $155,000. On the low (but growing!) end of the earning spectrum is Stephanie from SixFiguresUnder. Her husband graduated from law school in 2012 with $130,000 in student loans. They are down to $80,000 and hope to have it all paid off by the end of 2016.
For most, taking out student loans was the only way they could pay for law school. I get that. I wouldn’t have been able to go without them. However, just because the Government gives you up to 25 years to pay them back doesn’t mean you need to pay on them for that long. There are so many things you can do.
Student Loans don’t have to be forever.