Life After Student Loan Debt: $85,308.07 Paid

Debt Freedom

It has been one year and eighteen days since I have been student loan debt free. I imagined my life being much happier not having to budget for payments to student loan servicers. But let’s visit the past… my life after graduating from college in 2010 started off awesome as I made the best decision of my life-I married my best friend. However, marital bliss did not last long as Nelnet, Fedloan, ACS, and University Accounting Services demanded much of my paycheck.

Im Free GIF - Im Free GIFs

My student loan payoff struggle lasted 8 years, 9 months, and 7 days. It was difficult working multiple jobs that didn’t pay much. My ego took a hit in knowing I did not earn enough to provide for my wife; making matters worse, my jobs involved working overnight. Somehow, someway the Lord in his mercy allowed me to keep my sanity.

The Struggle Was Real

So there I was, a recent college graduate and life was just not working out. Thankfully it’s been 11 years since the initial haymaker life dealt me. It’s hard to believe somedays I graduated 11 years ago and for a very long time I despised my education. I was embarrassed to ever mention my degrees as I had little to show for them except debt and minimum wage jobs. By the way, minimum wage in Texas is $7.25, a far cry for what is purported for earnings for degree holders.

Feast your eyes on a chart below provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for the year of 2017. Supposedly, someone with master’s degree is to earn about $1,400 weekly. ***For the unemployment rate figures I have supplied the link (Source) to that information in the link below the chart.***


However, from 2011 to 2013, I earned just under $500 a month; and from 2013-2016, my monthly earnings were about $1,600 monthly. Don’t get me wrong, by no means is this post meant to be a gripe, moan, and groan session. The purpose of No Debt But Love is to inspire the next generation to avoid student loans at all costs and to encourage those with student loan debt to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

The purpose of this post is the reminder that although we have plans for a better life and future, life happens and things get ugly fast. Oh… have you forgotten? Let me remind you.

COVID-19 & Change of Heart

Let’s be real, I didn’t daydream about paying off my student loans and then witness friends and family need stimulus checks a month later. I remember a classmate not so long ago told me, “Don’t get upset if student loans are forgiven right after paying yours off.” I really didn’t think much of his statement because I figured, “If I can pay off my debt, then why can’t everyone else? I made sacrifices and paid it off, now you do the same!”

In my humble opinion, our apathy is what is causing the world so much pain. Although I have paid my student loan debt, I must remain concerned for others who are in this situation. The same is true for example, when showing support to someone who discloses their struggles with cancer. You wouldn’t dare respond to the news with, “I beat cancer, so you can too” this response would be outrageous.

Student loans threaten to derail and often destroy the financial lives of young people. Currently, the U.S. president is considering options to make student loan debt cancellation a reality. To be honest, I am happy student loan debt is discussed in the news more often now. I pray we all listen in a nonjudgmental manner during the next student loan debt story we hear. Until next time everyone!  Stay strong…💪 fight on…🥊💥🥊 and have no debt but love! Peace 🕊️ and Blessings🙏🏻.

In The News: The average millennial has a net worth of $8,000. That’s far less than previous generations.

June 5, 2019
By Abha Bhattarai for Washington Post

Millennials are doing far worse financially than generations before them, with student loans, rising rents and higher health-care costs pushing the average net worth below $8,000, a new study shows.

The net worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has dropped 34 percent since 1996, according to research released Thursday by Deloitte, the accounting and professional services giant. This demographic is paying more for education and such basics as food and transportation while incomes have largely flatlined.

“The vast majority of consumers are under tremendous financial pressure,” said Kasey M. Lobaugh, Deloitte’s chief retail innovation officer and lead author of the study. “That is particularly true for low-income Americans and millennials.”

The growing gap between the nation’s wealthiest residents and everybody else, he said, is affecting the way consumers spend…

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In The News: 4 Years of College, $0 in Debt: How Some Countries Make Higher Education Affordable

May 30, 2019

Lara Takenaga

By Lara Takenaga Written for the New York Times

Morehouse College’s 2019 graduates don’t have to worry about crushing student debt, since the billionaire investor Robert F. Smith pledged last week to pay it all off. Neither do graduates of colleges in countries that offer affordable tuition and generous stipends.

As young adults wrestle with student debt in the United States, where it has reached $1.5 trillion, many recent graduates in some countries are debt free.

When we asked people around the world what they paid for their higher education and how they financed it, we received nearly 800 responses from more than 40 countries.

Below is a selection of the responses, which show how government policies can shape the personal and professional choices that young adults make as they begin their careers. The responses have been edited and condensed.

Denmark is among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that spend the most on postsecondary education, at 1.6 percent of its gross domestic product. (The United States allocates 0.9 percent of its G.D.P.)

I attended the Technical University of Denmark from 2008 to 2013. All university is paid for by taxes. Books are maybe $500 per semester — lower than when I studied in the United States, but still a big expense.

Students who don’t live with their parents get a monthly stipend from the government of about $900 for living costs. Some people get more (if you have a child, for example). If you become pregnant during university, you get a year of parental leave, and you continue receiving the stipend. The stipend goes for up to six years (one year more than a typical bachelor’s and master’s degree). You can work part time up to a certain limit and still keep the stipend, but if you work too much and earn too much money, you have to pay back the stipend.

When we study abroad, we get to bring the tuition with us, and we apply for scholarships to pay other expenses like visas and plane tickets. I studied in Oregon for six months in 2011 and didn’t spend any of my own money.

An increased emphasis on higher education attainment has led to 45 percent of Taiwan’s population aged 15 and older earning a technical college or university degree, a 10 percent increase over the last decade, according to the Taiwanese government.

I graduated from National Taiwan University in 2012 with two majors. My tuition was about $375 per semester. The amount was just a fraction of my parents’ monthly salary, so they helped pay.

Because I didn’t go into debt for college (who should, anyway?), I didn’t feel pressure to get a job immediately or feel the need for a high-paying one. Salary wasn’t my concern; I could do whatever I wanted for my career.

— Hung-Yu Juan. Undergraduate tuition: $3,000. Loans: $0.

Government grants help undergraduate students pay for living costs and education fees in Ireland. Some students have protested the contribution fees of 3,000 euros ($3,360) a year, calling for a publicly funded education system like those elsewhere in Europe.

The government subsidizes undergraduate college education for European Union citizens, so technically my college degree was free. However, you’re required to pay a student contribution to your university, which works out to €3,000 annually, so I paid €12,000 for my degree.

I was extremely fortunate that my parents had put aside college money since I was born, so they covered my tuition, from 2015 to 2019. They also paid for my rent and groceries. I worked throughout my degree to supplement additional costs.

Because the cost of living in Dublin is super high, I was lucky to live in an accommodation that was pretty cheap, albeit gross. Because my parents paid for my degree, its cost did not affect my day-to-day life, but I definitely lived frugally.

— Grace Browne. Undergraduate tuition: €12,000. Loans: $0.

The Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, initiated a policy in 2018 that eliminates fees for postsecondary students’ first year. The policy is scheduled to extend to three years by 2024.

I’m in my third year of a six-year undergraduate medical degree at the University of Otago in Dunedin. My first year cost 7,000 New Zealand dollars ($4,600) and subsequent years cost 15,000 N.Z.D. Our government offers loans to all citizens, and residents who have been here more than three years. These loans cover full tuition (and they subsidize the rest of our fees, which, for medicine, are upward of 75,000 N.Z.D. a year). Students are also eligible for an additional loan or an allowance for living costs.

After graduation you pay 12 percent on what you earn above 19,760 N.Z.D. (for me, on a base junior doctor’s salary of 56,000 N.Z.D. a year, I would repay about 4,500 N.Z.D. a year).

As a student doing one of the longest, most expensive degrees and living away from home, my loan will be about 140,000 N.Z.D. when I graduate. However, our government administers our loans, and we don’t get charged interest (unless you leave the country for more than a year), so I have never felt like I’m being crushed by it.

— Hannah Lochore. Undergraduate tuition: 82,000 N.Z.D. Loans: 140,000 N.Z.D.

In Brazil, postsecondary education attainment increased to 17 percent of young adults in 2015 from 10 percent in 2010, according to the O.E.C.D. This is still one of the lowest rates among O.E.C.D. countries. Access to free public universities is extremely competitive, and the demand far exceeds the number of available spots.

I graduated in 2013, and my college education cost about 100,000 Brazilian real ($25,000) for a full-time degree in economics.

I studied at a private college through a scholarship program funded by the federal government called Prouni (basically meaning “university for all” in Portuguese). This program was developed to help students from poor families have access to university; once selected, you have to prove that your family’s income fits the criteria. The students are selected through a national exam that we take after high school.

Even though there was no tuition, I had to move from the countryside to a city and support myself there. I attended a very expensive college, so I also had to deal with social differences because most of the students were from upper-middle-class households.

— Bruno Henrique Ferreira Paulino. Undergraduate tuition: 100,000 Brazilian real. Loans: $0.

In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides free tuition to state and local universities and colleges, as well as state-run vocational schools.

I studied at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, a top institution in my country. For my first years, 2014 to 2016, the fees were based on my family’s socioeconomic status. The base fees were about $600 per semester. We were middle class and got a discount of 60 percent, so we paid about $240.

After 2017, because my university is a public one, I enjoyed the benefits of tuition exemption.

The costs affected my career a little. My practicum, the last requirement for my degree in nutrition, was the most expensive, about $1,400. My parents had a hard time attaining this. I will take the exam to be a nutritionist and dietitian in August.

— Kiolo L. Belsonda. Undergraduate tuition: $1,440. Loans: $0.

The Student Awards Agency Scotland, a government entity, covers the full fees of eligible Scottish and E.U. nationals who apply; the payments are sent directly to the college or university. To qualify, students must have chosen a course that is funded by the agency and meet certain residency criteria. The Scottish government also sets the tuition rate for these students. For the 2019-20 academic year, tuition is as high as 1,820 British pounds ($2,300), depending on the program.

I’m a European citizen, so my undergraduate tuition at the University of St. Andrews, from 2012 to 2016, was paid by the Scottish government. My parents paid for my accommodation during those years, and I worked part time to fund all other expenses.

Now, my integrated master’s and doctoral degree is funded through the United Kingdom-based Economic and Social Research Council, Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. This covers tuition and a stipend of about £1,200 a month, which I supplement with part-time teaching and research assistant work at the university, as well as a part-time job in a cafe.

Because university was essentially free for me, I had a lot more freedom to pursue my interests, including further education and academic work.

— Olga Loza. Undergraduate tuition: £7,280. Loans: $0.

The share of Turkey’s population aged 25 and older that had earned a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent increased to 14.8 percent in 2016 from 7.3 percent in 2004, according to the Unesco Institute for Statistics. (In the United States, one-third of adults in 2015 had a bachelor’s degree or more education, according to the United States Census Bureau.)

I attended Bilkent University in Ankara from 2006 to 2012 and didn’t pay for my undergraduate legal education. This was possible due to Turkey’s university entrance exam system. By ranking among the top 100 of more than 1.5 million exam takers, I attended a private university for free.

Both state and private institutions are among the best-ranking universities in Turkey. State universities are usually free or have minimal tuition. To compete with state universities, private institutions offer tuition-free quotas.

The government offers stipends to help cover living expenses. Based on the recipient’s income level, these monthly payments are either loans or grants. Exam takers who rank in the top 100 in different score categories receive three times this monthly amount regardless of their income level. This was how I covered my living expenses without burdening my parents.

Going into law without any cost gave me the opportunity to attain higher middle-class income levels despite my parents’ low- to middle-class income level.

— Mustafa Cetin. Undergraduate tuition: 225,000 Turkish lira ($37,000). Loans: $0.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the average cost of undergraduate tuition for Canadian full-time students was about 6,500 Canadian dollars ($4,800), according to Statistics Canada, a government agency. In 2010, the most recent year with available data, half of all students who earned a bachelor’s graduated with debt; the average was 26,300 Canadian dollars. (In 2018, people in the United States with outstanding education debt typically owed between $20,000 and $25,000.)

The cost of my bachelor’s degree from McGill University was about 6,000 Canadian dollars per year for four years, plus books, student fees and living expenses. In total, it was about 50,000 Canadian dollars for all four years.

My parents and I had saved up for the cost of all school expenses. I worked during the summers to be able to pay for living expenses, and my parents helped me where they could so that I could focus on my studies without taking a part-time job during the school year. Because of the reasonable cost of the education, my parents’ forward-thinking approach and my decisions to work during the summer, I did not experience any financial hardships and I graduated without student debt.

Graduating debt free allowed me freedom of opportunity and choice to find my own path and try out different jobs, including working abroad. I was also able to find the right fit and industry, and to walk away from companies and bosses who treat employees unfairly.

— Casey Reynolds. Undergraduate tuition: 24,000 Canadian dollars. Loans: $0.