I am a recent graduate from Elon University, a private school in North Carolina, and have $90,808 of college debt. Though my debt seems extremely high, Elon is also regarded as one of the most affordable private college educations.
My story dates back to high school where my parents worked opposing shifts simply to make ends meet. I knew since middle school that I would go to a great college and venture away from my hometown. My motivation during the past 17 years of my educational career was to do well, go to a great college and then have no problem landing my dream job.
Once I was accepted and made the decision to attend Elon I knew I had to take my financial situation into my own hands. My parents did not fully understand the process; therefore, with their taxes in hand, I filled out my federal financial aid forms. I was awarded a little grant money along with some federal loans. This "financial award" did not complete the cost and I had to resort to private loans to pay for the remaining balance of my college education.
Not only did I have to take private loans for each year but I also found ways to enjoy my college experience while attempting to make "as best as I could" financial decisions. I worked throughout the school year and all summer to pay for my groceries, extracurricular activities and a variety of other living expenses. I even planned my study abroad trip by making sure I had taken enough classes so that during the fall of my senior year I would be a part-time student and graduate early.
I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic Communications in less than four years and still find myself unemployed. I work part-time while being a full-time job seeker. My loan payments, if I had not claimed forbearance, would be close to $900 a month.
My main problem with this much debt is that my younger sister was planning on attending a university and was unable to get loans because my parents are struggling and were my cosigners. She resorted to taking a year off and potentially reapplying to cheaper schools for the next academic year.
In a country where education is highly valued and reviewed as a necessity, the cost is simply outrageous. Even with if I get a job with a good starting salary in my field, I know I will be paying back my college loans for almost the rest of my life.