Hello and welcome to the first entry in the student loan series! This is the first post in a brand new series here at TFF.
The purpose of this series is to help you gain perspective with regard to student loans. In addition to helping understand how you compare to others, the hope is that you may also gain some helpful tips for how to eliminate your student loans more quickly.
In the interest of perspective, some of these interviews may be “success stories” in the sense that the interviewee has already completely paid off his/her student loans. However, that won’t necessarily always be the case. Some – perhaps even many – of the interviewees will still be a work in progress. The reason is to keep things realistic so that you understand you aren’t alone if you are still paying off your student loans.
This is not everyone for him/herself – we’re all in this together.
All that being said, this series will begin with a good friend and fellow blogger of mine, Andrea Joy of Saving Joyfully.
As I alluded to above, Andrea is still working toward paying back her student loans. She will not be the only one, however! Nevertheless, Andrea has some great perspective to share and I greatly appreciate her participation in this new series.
I hope you enjoy the interview!
Student Loan Series #1: Saving Joyfully
1. First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Just for fun – if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Hi everyone my name is Andrea Joy and I blog over at http://savingjoyfully.com/.
I am an account analyst in medical billing for a local healthcare company and have been with the same company for 16 years. I am married to my husband of 12 years and we live in Toledo Ohio. I enjoy cooking, watching true crime, traveling and writing most of all. I would love to be able to fly if I had a superpower. I can’t imagine anything more fun than being able to fly. I went skydiving in my twenties and that was exhilarating, to say the least, in fact, it almost felt like I was flying.
2. What was your major in college? What was your main reason for picking that major? Did you know your major before starting school?
I sadly switched majors multiple times beginning with Psychology, Social work, Communications and finally my actual degree in Business management. I never really knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I am very happy though that I chose the major that I did. I believe that it has provided some very beneficial knowledge for my current career, as well as running my blog.
3. Do you feel your major/degree has helped advance your career so far?
I am very glad that I finally discovered business management was the path for me. I honestly have used so many things that I have learned with that degree. I can really see my current degree helping significantly as I continue to manage my blog. My degree in business management has also helped me improve my chances of getting my last few positions. It has quite simply helped me land the job because they required me to have any degree. I have not been using my exact degree, but my current job has helped improve my computer skills overall. This job has also helped broaden my knowledge and understanding of managing a business and leadership in so many ways.
Andrea’s Student Loans
4. What about your student loans? Do you feel that so far, it has been worth it to borrow money to attend school?
I look at my student loans and cringe. I would love to say that they are worth the investment but sadly I do not always feel this way. I do feel that my college education was important yet if I could do it all over again I would have spent more time pursuing other options to fund my tuition instead such as scholarships, grants and even jobs that pay for tuition reimbursement.
5. If you don’t mind sharing, what was the total amount of your student loans? Are you student loan-free or still working on them?
I really wish I could say that I am totally student loan free but that is simply not the case. My current student loans total approximately $62k. That is still pretty hefty and unsettling to have so much student loan debt especially in your mid 30’s. I do realize that I am not alone in this though and that many have far more student loans than I have so I am trying to stay positive. I actually graduated college just 5 years ago in 2013 after attending college part-time for many years. I have to say that I am very proud that despite all the challenges I experienced along the way I still completed my degree.
Payoff and Refinancing
6. Can you tell us about your student loan payoff strategy? Have there been any major challenges or struggles while repaying them?
I also would love to present an amazing strategy that I have figured out to pay these down faster. To be honest I am still at a point that just paying the minimum amounts on my student loans which in the past has even been a struggle. I have credit card debt which I accumulated over many years while in college. This is my main priority that I am currently focusing on paying down. I am doing this by working on one card at a time and paying that card off in full. Once this card is paid off in full I take the payment from that card and combine it with the minimum payment on the next card. My student loans will be next on my list to pay off after my credit cards are gone. I will take the amount I was putting towards those cards onto the smallest student loan. I will then focus on my smallest loan first, which is approximately $10k and once that is paid off, I will pay the amount I was previously paying for that smaller loan on top of what I was already paying on the highest loan.
7. Did you ever apply for refinancing, consolidation, income-driven repayment, etc.?
I want to be completely honest and transparent because frankly, my financial situation over the years has not been easy. I have done a deferment, forbearance and also applied for income-driven payment plans. It is tough paying down student loans when the only jobs you can find pay you $12 an hour right out of college. I have moved up significantly since I graduated in 2013 with my degree. I have only been able to do this though by taking multiple new positions within my company and working very hard to move up in my current career field.
8. Any final tips for someone who is working on paying off their student loans?
I work for a hospital which is actually a private not for profit organization. This qualifies me for public service loan forgiveness. If you are not sure if you would qualify for this in your current career you can check it out at the bottom of this form. What I can say is even with this public service loan forgiveness you still need to pay for 10 years straight on your student loans. In doing this it will take me at least another 7 years to pay it to the point of qualifying for the loan forgiveness. I have never done this before myself, but I highly recommend you check it out if you are in a profession that may qualify. It is worth checking into whether you qualify if you find you do qualify for loan forgiveness it can really save you a lot of money.
Thanks to Andrea
Once again, many thanks to Andrea Joy of Saving Joyfully for taking part in the student loan series! Andrea is one of my favorite bloggers and you should definitely check out her blog if you have not already done so. One her blog, she provides all kinds of useful tips for how to save money by using coupons, apps, and all plenty of other tricks to help you save.
While I do not currently have a set schedule for these interviews, I would like it to feature them monthly if possible. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!