How to Embrace Your Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt seems to the rule rather than the exception. My $15,000 debt has been around quite a long time and will probably take me about 10 more years to pay off. There have been periods where I have paid regularly but more periods where I have requested deferments. The government makes it very easy to defer and they give you quite a bit of latitude when it comes to making payments on the debt. I have never been in default and never will be barring a catastrophic life occurrence.

I do not resent my debt and it will one day be a memory. Without student loans, I would not have been able to get the wonderful education I received from UCLA. My college years were wonderful – some of the best years of my life. The collegial environment, the rigorous academic requirements, the diverse group of people I came across and forged friendships with all contributed to an enriching educational experience. Therefore, yes the student loans were definitely worth it and they contributed to making me the person I am today.

When I lost everything, I still had my education. I was the first person in my immediate family to go to college and received a write up in the local paper when I graduated. My loans were spent strictly on my college education. I was responsible for the cost of my education and used the loans for that purpose along with working two to three part time jobs during the school year and lining up a job for the summer. I have benefited greatly from my education. Not necessarily financially but it has instilled confidence and helped vanquish some deep emotional demons. I have no regrets. When I was going through a difficult period, right after graduation, my cousin told me to always remember that no one will ever be able to take my education away from me and those words will always remain with me.

Being a single mother and working for a non-profit makes it difficult to pay the loan back on a regular basis. Hindsight is 20/20 and there are financial decisions I wish I could have changed and instead focused on reducing and eliminating my student loan debt. I may not be making a six-figure income but what my student loan debt represents to me is invaluable.