When I was in college I was an idiot. A lazy idiot when it came to how I paid for school.
My senior year of high school I got one scholarship. Despite having a high GPA & being involved in damn near everything I think I only got one for National Honor Society. Despite the fact that you aren't supposed to put your name on the applications, you could tell I went to high school in a small town where who you are is everything. The students that got the most scholarships? The people who had parents with important names in town. Funny how that works... Of course it's also my fault that I didn't apply for outside scholarships & only those that the school told me about. I also didn't apply for a single scholarship once I was in college. Stupid. I know. My stupidity is why I have told every single one of my seniors since day 1 that I don't care if they think they'll get it or not, or even if they don't qualify for it, to apply. The money HAS to go to someone if anyone applies to it.
There's also the whole FAFSA application that damn near every student fills out every single year that they're in college. I have major beef with FAFSA. Why? Because it only takes into account what your gross income is. Not what you make after taxes, not the fact that you actually have to pay for stuff. It also, in my opinion, fucks over the middle class. If you are dirt poor you get money like crazy. If you are super rich your parents can in fact actually pay for you to go to college. If you're like my parents, FAFSA tells you that you can pay for your child to go to college & gives you a $500 grant one time for the 5 years you spend in college when in fact, you cannot afford to help your child.
So how did I pay for college? Loans. Loans. Oh, & more loans. I will take half the blame because of my lack of scholarship applications. I know that there is definitely more that I could have done to reduce the amount I took out in loans. However, the other half of the blame I do place on the system.
I don't know exactly how much I took out in the 5 years I attended. I know about how much I took out my first 4 years & I know that it was less my 5th year. Without interest I estimate that I took approximately 70,000 out in loans...most of which are private. Because my parents couldn't afford to pay for college they did pay the interest on my loans while I was in college. I'm not sure what the starting amount was when I began repaying them in November 2012 because I didn't bother to check...I just paid every month. The first time I really looked into it was July 2013. At that point I owed 83,500. I looked again last July & I was down to 77,800. A little over 2.5 years into the repayment of my loans I am now down to 72,600.
Although I pay to 5 different student loan bills each month, Sallie Mae gets the title of Archnemesis because she holds 67% of my student loan debt. Death to Sallie!
There are definitely days when I feel like I may never have them all paid off. Within this past year though I cut one of my loans in half & now owe less than $800 on it. I am also starting my 4th year of teaching in a Title I school & after 5 years I can get up to $5000 forgiven in federal loans. There is also another program for teachers where if I stay in education for 10 years & make 120 consecutive on time payments, whatever is remaining in federal loans is forgiven. The only real kicker that most of my loans are private but anything that they are willing to forgive, I'm willing to take.