Monday, March 16, 2009

Freaking Out a Little

This morning I received a phone call from the Utah Higher Education Association. Basically, Westminster didn't send them proof of enrollment for my final semester in my masters program, and therefore UHEA was sending me a bill to start payment on my student loans. Technically, I have 6 months AFTER my graduation date to start paying back the gobs of money I owe the gov'ment for gettin' myself an edju-ma-cation. Fun stuff.

I called Westminster this morning and they agreed to send enrollment verification off to UHEA so they quit trying to bill me before I'm done with school. That being said, I'm still freaking out and here's why:

I haven't started paying back my loans for my undergrad degree. Why? Because I graduated right after September 11th happened, and couldn't get a job for 6 months. I asked for an economic forbearance due to A) lack of job, and B) lack of sufficient funds once I got my first crappy paying job out of college.

THEN- I went back to school in 2006 to get my masters. Basically, if you are in school, you aren't required to make payments on your loans. So UHEA carried over all my loans from my BA and combined them with the loans I was taking out to complete my MPC. I'm a few months away from having that all done, which means as soon as I'm finished, the 6 month count down to repayment time begins. Thus, my 6 month countdown to total panic begins as well.

I don't even want to tell you what I owe on student loans. Westminster is an expensive school, and although I had a full ride for my BA, I still had to take out student loans to live on while I was trying to complete a 5 year program in 4 years (my scholarship was only good for 4 years). That meant I didn't have time to work. So yes, I lived off student loans and credit cards.

Let me sum things up by saying I will be making a substantial monthly payment till I'm about 55 years old. Oh the nice car I could buy with that chunk o' money. I could remodel my kitchen 3 times over, I could do TONS of things... but instead, I decided to get myself S.M.R.T. Now I'm just in need of the salary that compliments the graduate degree, and the oodles of debt I'm in.

Why isn't education free? Think about it. All Americans should have the right to receive an education. And although many would argue that we do- in all reality, we don't. There are TONS out there who want an education and can't afford it. I'm finding out, I am one of those people :) I just found out AFTER getting the education, BEFORE I saw the price tag.

Ya know, I knew all along I would have to pay back the loans I was taking out. But a part of me thought, "It'll be okay, because I'll have my fancy degree by then, and that means I'll have an awesome paying job, and I'll be able to afford the payments so yeah, give me those loans, I'm going to school dammit!"

What a lovely little bubble I lived in. Well, it's popped folks, and reality stings. And I'm dreading those little monthly statements I'll be receiving just in time for Christmas.

If you're thinking of going back to school, good for you. If you have to take out student loans to do it, be careful. And really consider the ratio of salary vs. cost of school. Will you be getting that big fancy corner office and high paying salary once you have the degree you're thinking of getting? If so, go for it. If not, don't rush getting your degree. Take it a class at a time, and pay for it as you go. I think if I could do it all over again, I would have done that. That's probably the MOST valuable thing I learned in college :)

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