‘I’m still paying my loan debt. We’re going to have to start making bigger payments in 2016 and I’m not sure how that’s going to happen.’
I grew up in Hartford, Connecticut’s inner-city, where I was told that, to make a difference and help my community, that I should get a good education.
As a first-generation college student, coming from a single-mother family, I had to learn what subsidized vs. non-subsidized vs. private loans were and how to fill out a FAFSA on my own. I majored in Women’s Studies and English Literature at Eastern Connecticut State College. When I graduated in 2009, I had about $30,000 in student debt, with a combination of private and public loans.
I graduated and entered the AmeriCorps as a Vista Volunteer. Now I’m a senior case manager working with battered women through the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It’s hard work, but amazing and so very needed. I’ve always wanted to do socially conscious work and I went to school to be able to better contribute to my community. Now I’m scrounging for pennies trying to make ends meet while keeping up with my student debt payments.
I live in Ledyard, Conn., with my husband and our two children (3 years old and a week and a half old). Childcare costs are over $300 per month, almost like paying a second mortgage. I dropped down to part-time work to lower costs, but now we have less income. My husband’s work with the Department of Corrections helps us afford the mortgage and provides health care.
We don’t have savings for emergencies. We have to decide to cut back on groceries or pay the utility bill late in order to not fall behind on the debt payments.
I want to be able to tell young people coming from my community that I did it and I’m fine, but they should be prepared for the ridiculous price tags that come with a college education. I’m still paying my loan debt. Whenever we miss a payment, even by just a couple of days, Sallie Mae calls and calls. Right now, I’m paying the minimum, about $206 a month. We’re going to have to start making bigger payments in 2016 and I’m not sure how that’s going to happen.
It’s a cycle. You go to school to get a degree for a better-paying job. Then when you get the job, your debt payments increase because your salary is over the limits for income-based repayment.
I studied hard and went to college to make a better life for my family, my community, and myself. All we want is to have a little more financial security. We’re not seeking luxury, just comfort.