Saturday, September 19, 2015

Loan Payoff Day

Today was a momentous day for me. I paid off my first student loan.

This picture is of me excitedly holding up a check for my last payment. It was a little more than I could afford on a monthly basis, but I relied a bit on my savings to cover the rest. 

I paid off my John George Student Loan 15 months early and this is how I did it:

First and foremost I am extremely thankful to the John George Student Loan Fund and Comerica Bank for providing me with a 2.0% interest student loan, that was both reasonable and affordable. Learn more about the John George Student Loan Fund from me below. 

I began paying off my student loans in December 2011, which was 2 1/2 years after I graduated college. I was able to put my loans in deferment when I was in Peace Corps, but they were anxiously awaiting my return. My first month back, I made a payment.

Upon returning to Jackson I had a series of jobs that usually paid me just enough to make minimum loan payments. Whereas I wasn't getting out fast this way, at least I wasn't defaulting. Then I was able to get promoted to full time at Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan and then on to Executive Director at Fitness Council, awarding me more and more income to make higher payments. I feel very fortunate that I have had decent jobs that have allowed me to pay this off quickly. 

Lastly, my best strategy was to put every bit of extra money I had down on this loan. When my situation with my other loan changed (more below) I decided that I would tackle this smaller loan and get it done with. For every house sitting gig I had, every hour of tutoring, and every tax refund I chipped away at this loan a little more. In 2015 alone I spent an additional $1,500 in extra payments.
 Now that this loan is paid off, it does not mean I am debt free quite yet. Last year around this time my dad generously paid off my high interest student loan and now I am paying him monthly at a more manageable 2.0% interest. I was lucky that he had the money for this and neither one of us wanted to see my hard work in trying to pay it off get buried by interest. I still have $13,000 to go with that one, but now I am free of banks, government and high interest. 

The John George Student Loan is resource that Jackson County students may apply for. The fund allows for loans to be taken at 2.0% interest, substantially lower than federal student loans and also ones from larger banking institutions. $5,000 per year can be taken with a total of $20,000. 

My John George Loan was for the amount of $10,500. And in 45 months I was able to pay it off in full due to hard work, perseverance, and dedication. While the loan helped me get where I am today, I am happy to be free of it. While most of us understand that continued education is only going to help build a stronger society we all can agree the United States has a big problem on its hands with the cost. Something has to be done, because soon enough college education will only be for the wealthy.

For a bit of education and a laugh please watch as Hank Green explains why college is so expensive. 

And more education and laughs with John Oliver.