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Columns Votes - December 2006

How did you pay for your college education?

Comments on Student Loans and Debt

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I’ve learned that the federal government’s loans do not come with strings attached, like those from friends and family. Loans from friends and family are never REALLY paid off. Family loans result in being forever indebted, regardless of whether the loan was repaid. Family members can also threaten to stop funding your education, should you anger them. I would rather be indebted to the government and banks any day.

I took out a federally insured student loan. It was not fun to get out of college with no job and a large amount of debt, but it was worth it for the degree. I spent 10 years paying off the loan. Nowadays I would be more savvy about other types of financial aid. I just assumed I wouldn’t be eligible, even though I was from a lower-middle-class family.

It is difficult to pay for college while working and taking a full time load. Needless to say, I don’t take my college education for granted. I don’t regret anything I’ve done. I hope there is more financial aid for future students.

I’m spending several years paying back loans, which decreases my spending capacity.

My parents had me apply for student loans when I didn’t really need them. This meant that rather than being frugal with my money, I paid tuition with student loans, then wasted most of the money that my parents had saved for college, just because I could. Then I paid for it for the next 10 years.

It took me 10 years to pay off my student loans for undergrad and grad school, which was tough during that time given the reality of the basic costs of living.

Still carrying debt from undergrad (10+ years later), rolled into other post-undergrad education loans. Will be in debt until I die...

Very stressful during undergrad years trying to get by on financial aid—frequently ran out of money (even with work & help from family).

The financial aid process should be reworked for students whose parents are so screwed up financially that, although they show a high AGI on their taxes, aren’t intending to help contribute anything to their children’s education. Even though I was financing my own education, I didn’t qualify for any scholarships or grants because my FAFSA said that my mother made too much money.

My student experience was positively affected by the amount of student loans I took out in terms of quality of life (I attended UW for two master’s programs). My post-student financial experience is definitely negative, especially now that I am also financing childcare. I take full responsibility for the decisions I made at the time, including not applying for in-state residence so that my loan amount would be higher, but I would have made different decisions knowing what I know now about what my financial picture would be. I definitely made decisions based on immediate gratification. Perhaps the Financial Aid Office could team up with Student Affairs to offer educational sessions not just regarding student loans and the impact of those on one’s finances after the degree, but also credit cards, and the other ways that students become embroiled in debt. I am learning the hard way and wish I could turn back the clock on that front.

I felt that by working and paying my own way, I appreciated my education more than my friends whose parents were paying their costs. Getting student loans also helped to establish my credit.

BSEE 1998—Worked, used credit cards and took out student loans. I had over $50K in debt when I graduated. I spent two years paying of the credit cards, then another two years paying off a car loan plus part of the student loan. It’s been eight years now and I still have $25K in debt. If I could do it over again I would NEVER have taken out the credit cards or the loan (which is really a line of credit with very flexible terms but high interest—8%). I would have worked my way through and not worried so much about grades, which don’t make any difference once you’re out in the work force.

Paying with loans gives you the opportunity to have more experiences outside of college rather than just working 40 hours a week; more of a social experience. A huge plus is the low interest rate, well worth it. Also, having a loan in YOUR NAME gives more incentive to do well in school.

I’m still paying. I hope to pay it off before I retire! Of course getting a master’s at age 50 leaves less time to get it all paid.

Mostly I saved beforehand and got financial aid. I worked a little to make “extra money.” I was proud to put myself through university.

I had no family financial support and could not have attended UW without full support. I took the aid very seriously and became a finalist for the President’s Medal when I graduated. Many years later I enrolled in (and graduated) UW Law School and paid all expenses myself.

Having to work for part of my education made me apply myself to my studies and become a good time manager. However, I would have liked to avoid the student loans.

The other half of my education was funded by LOANS! I am still paying them off, but I wouldn’t change that for the world. It made me appreciate the opportunity and make a commitment to not “messing up.” The money I made working part-time jobs helped pay for my living expenses: rent, food, transportation, entertainment, etc.

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