“Even with a stable job and two incomes, we’re just living month-to-month”
At first I thought that many of my student loans were public, until I learned that they were actually loans from the for-profit Sallie Mae. By the time I graduated, I had $60,000 in debt.
I’m a community organizer with the Connecticut Center for a New Economy. It’s great work, where I get to fight for racial and economic justice and systemic changes that help local people get local jobs. However, my pathway to getting this job to do this work has become an economic burden for me and my family.
I started school in 1999 at Goddard College and eventually graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2007, going in and out of work and school. I studied Sociology and Women and Gender Studies. Like many young people, I liked learning, but I wasn’t really drawn to a particular career path until much later. In fact, I was unaware of any careers that reflected my real passion for justice, but I was determined to pursue my education despite a lack of clear career goals.
Throughout this process, my university kept offering me financial aid in the form of private loans, which I wasn’t savvy enough to understand well. Neither of my parents have college degrees or financial experience. My loan officer never offered any assistance navigating the financial aid process. I didn’t know how to find scholarships, either.
At first I thought that many of my student loans were public, until I learned that they were actually loans from the for-profit Sallie Mae. By the time I graduated, I had $60,000 in debt. At one point, I had to pay $800 per month, but, thanks to consolidating through the government, my payments are now around $220 a month.
My partner and I share a house with a roommate and split costs across our salaries. I’m making about $37,000 a year before taxes, which is almost a living wage where I live, but I’m still unable to create any savings due to high living expenses. I also pay child support for my stepson who lives with his dad in Maine and I help support his living costs.
It’s hard to get ahead, and even with a stable job and two incomes, we’re just living month-to-month. In Connecticut I also have to pay high gas and electricity bills. We’d like to live without a roommate, but the rent isn’t affordable on just our salaries.
I’m still paying off debt from college, and will be for many years to come. We’re living comfortably compared to many of our neighbors, but debt continues to be a burden hanging over my head. I’m looking forward to the day when Sallie Mae is no longer a part of my life.