I have multiple student loans from both undergraduate and graduate school. I have been doing a combination of deferring, forbearing, and paying what I can intermittently with avoiding and going through major bouts of anxiety over dealing with them (as it looks like not only will I not be able to pay them off in my lifetime, but the multiple loan companies with which I have loans are not happy with me giving away sometimes half of my entire income to them!)
I have seen and read stories about student loan debt and suicide. Take a look at Huffington Post’s The Ones We’ve Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides that talks about how a lot of overwhelmed adult students have at least had passing thoughts about it, or read about student loan horror stories here, or any other number of articles like this recent one.
I myself have not really thought about suicide, but I have thought about fleeing the country, or disappearing in other ways. But I am in limbo, paying what I can, somehow getting by paying one and not another company (I think I know what they’re doing- just tacking on more and more high-rate interest), and it is only when I think about how much more money they really want from me, and how little I’ve made a dent with paying over the last 7 years, that I feel despondent. And have a mini-panic attack.
It does affect my life in a number of ways. I was unemployed for a while (and not even able to receive unemployment) and was not motivated to find work because I knew they’d want more money from me. How is that good for the economy?!
It has affected my personal life, especially in relationships. Even if I have worked to get myself in a good position regarding other types of debt, I will always have this huge mass looming over my life, and worrying if I marry someone they will be burdened (which I would not want- they didn’t take the loans out!).
So I see why there is an issue with student loan debt and suicide, and imagine it is really under-reported, and it is complex because a lot ties in- obviously if you weren’t able to find a good-paying job in your field, and then can’t pay your loan bills, you would likely suffer from depression or low feelings of self-worth. Or, worse yet, if you didn’t finish your degree, but still have many loans from obtaining half a degree…where does that leave you?
I know I have struggled with the job, identity, and income balance. I did not realize it would be such a problem for me to go into the noble profession of teaching and causally not being able to pay back loans due to finding work in that exact area (there are multiple stories on this sad thing as well!). And they do have teacher student loan forgiveness, but, only if you teach in a low income school. Seems a little unfair.
Right now, I had some loans come due and let it slip my mind, and now I have to figure out the next step. It’s not pretty. Part of me always does the “maybe if I don’t look at it, it will go away” game. That has not yet worked, of course 🙂 but I think informing yourself and making a plan is essential.
Luckily, working my a$$ off at two or three jobs *just* so I can in theory pay off loans (I doubt I’ll ever be able to actually complete paying off at my income/debt rate), is not a priority for me. I think that if I forgot to have a life, and enslaved myself to an unfair system (yes, it is unfair, but I won’t get into that argument), then maybe I would relate even more to these unfortunate stories.
That is all for now, and quite a lot it was, but I feel a little better sharing, maybe someone will see it, relate, and feel a bit better knowing there is a lot more to your life than your stupid debts.