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This is the story of life's financial struggles & victories through the eyes of a young woman up to her eyes in debt. Enjoy :)

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Allow me to introduce myself...

Hello out there! I am an average college graduate who, believe me, has PLENTY of other things to do besides blog, but this is the only thing I can think of to do in order to reach out to others outside of my network of friends.

That being said, I have absolutely no idea what I am really going to write about on this site. I am sure I could fill up a weeks worth of posts about anger and hate towards lenders and their inability to relate to their customers, but I don't think that would be very productive. However, I am not saying that will not happen from time to time :)

Since I am so nosy when it comes to finding out how much money my friends owe for college, I will go ahead and lay out some of the basic details of MY debt so that you can to compare it to yours. You are welcome :)

Quick background information: Through various scholarships from high school extra curricular activities, academic achievement awards from the university as well as a couple of grants, I had an almost complete ride for all 4 years at the University of Alabama. I knew I wanted to attend this little school called Belmont University in Nashville one day in order to pursue my dreams of music, so I was reluctant to attend Alabama. I knew I would be moving 4 and a half hours north with basically everyone from my high school since it was indeed the 'cool place' to move off to after senior year. I saw myself settling into a major that I would ultimately not want to reside in (they did not have a music business program) just for the sake of having to choose one. So, in my mind, although the funding was present, I ruled out the University of Alabama. In addition to those scholarships, I was also offered a full-paid scholarship to the local community college in the same city where I went to high school. Although it was hard to think about still living at home and watching the rest of my class move off to freedom town, I (with a little nudge from my mom) decided to stay home and accept the community college scholarship. BEST DECISION EVER MADE.

After 2 years at community college, I was debt-free and Belmont University bound. And right about here is where my loan story begins. I attended 2 years of college at Belmont University (a private christian institution) in Nashville, Tennessee where I majored in Music Business. Both years at Belmont I studied full-time taking approximately 17 hours each semester (and enrolling in summer classes, too). Only once did I go into the "academic overload" category taking 19 hours during the spring semester of my junior year. I knew the quicker I got through school, the less amount of money I would have to borrow. I made good grades, stayed involved in the university and graduated with my bachelor's degree in May of 2009 (exactly 4 years after I graduated from high school).

So, now that you know where I went to school and for how long, I will let you know how much that cost me. Keep in mind that even though I was on the dean's list at my community college, graduated with Phi Theta Kappa honors (associate degree) and had an impressive list of extra curricular activities, I was awarded no scholarships for Belmont. For the 2 years total that I was at Belmont, I owe Sallie Mae $68,000. Also, now that it has been a year and 3 months since I have graduated, I will give you a little update - I am now at $73,000. Which means in just 1 short year I have gained $5,000 in interest. I always knew it sounded bad coming out of my mouth, but typing it all out is even worse. Ouch.

So there you have it. I am sure the coming blogs will be more in detail about my interest rates, consolidation attempts, etc, but for now that is my student loan story in a nut shell. Off to dinner - Ramen Noodles again tonight :)

2 comments:

  1. I'd like to hear more about what solutions you see, and how people can make those solutions happen. Telling people they are powerless, and there's nothing they can do is discouraging, and its not true. We are the people. We are the student loan system. We the people, ultimately, have all of the power over this predatory lending system, and by simply returning the standard consumer protections that were taken away without reason or justification, the overwhelming, predatory nature of this debt will be lifted, and the citizens will recover much of the power that was stripped from them by a Congress corrupted by those who would trap us in this debt.

    I know very well the bad feelings that this uniquely predatory debt causes, but the borrowers can't let themselves be lulled into codependent despondency over it...particularly when the obvious solution is really such an easy thing to make happen if we simply hold our elected officials to their duty to serve the interests of the citizens. Not the banks, not the DC bureaucrats, and certainly not in the face of this clear attack on the constitution of our citizens.

    So I look forward to seeing your blog develop, and the last thing you need to take seriously is your funding sources...If you start taking money from loan counselors who are seeking only to subject defaulted borrowers to loan rehabilitation schemes that are absolutely harmful to the borrowers, then you are done. Don't do this if you are truly doing this for the reasons you claim. Take donations, sell Tshirts, whatever....do not take a dime from the lending system in any of its forms. If you do, you are playing a trick on the people who come to you in good faith, and trust you to not be financially motivated to further damage them financially. YOu seem like a good person, and I really hope you prove to be exactly that-

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  2. Dear Anonymous:
    I can honestly say I do not know what solutions I see in the future or how these solutions can begin to happen. When thinking about how the system can be more fair, I think of having laws in place to put a cap on interest rates that would regulate the amount of interest to a loan's principal. Say something like: A loan can never have an interest amount due totaling more than 5-10% of the original principal loan amount. This way we don't end up seeing cases where someone owes $150k to a lender when they only took out say $50k to begin with. This is about the only solution I see. If we can regulate the interest, lenders can still make their money, just not, for lack of better term, rape everyone in the process. Do you agree with some sort of process such as this?

    Also, I understand that "telling people they are powerless, and there's nothing they can do is discouraging, and it's not true. BUT, in a sense it is true. For right now anyways. There are no laws in place to protect people with private student loans. Consolidation would be the only way out and it is a fat chance in hell to even be approved for that. Most companies are now requiring that you make more $ annually then what you owe in loans.

    I agree with you that we are the people and that we ultimately have the power to control the student loan system. If I didn't agree with you on that then I probably would have never started this blog. I want so bad to see something done about this, but do not know how to go about getting something done. Maybe creating this blog will reach out to others and we can all work together on what the foundation steps should be. So if you have any suggestions, I would gladly take them into consideration. As far as T-shirts go, I have no design, print company, or clientele. Nor do I have the money to pay for them up front. If you have suggestions on how this T-shirt business could work and be profitable enough for the hassle, I would love to hear that suggestion too.

    Thanks SO much for commenting. It really helps knowing that someone out there is reading :)

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