Cog
[ loans , vent ]

My monthly student loan payments come out to a total of about $1200 every month. This was as low as I could get them after refinancing my private loans, and is still over the course of 20 years, the longest term possible.

Every year I was in college, I submitted my FAFSA. I was also told every year that my Expected Family Contribution would be the cost of attendance less a $1000 scholarship my school gave me. This is because my father, who I have not lived with for most of my life and whose relationship with me has primarily consisted of occasional phone calls and visits over holidays makes some exorbitant sum of money. He declined to support my sister or myself in school.

I’m bitter not only because of how much his salary has impacted me and how unremorseful he seems to be to have put me in the position. I’m angry at my past self for not taking time to sit down and consider what $175,000 of debt would look like once I graduate, or for at the very least not trying to be more prudent about applying to scholarships. And I’m angry that what seems to, for many, actually be an expected family contribution ended up being my “expected future you contribution without interest.”

This graph is to scale. My budget is right next to it in Excel. When I’m left to spend one-third of my net income “discretionarily,” largely consisting of groceries and clothes, it is difficult not to feel like a cog in the machine, whose purpose is to pay the salary of some executive at Navient.

It’s entirely my fault that I’m in this situation. I’m not trying to absolve myself of any responsibility in being where I am. I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to get the education that I did, and that the education that I got was able to help me achieve a decent job. But it’s difficult not to think, “why me?” when the Department of Education says that for high-income students my school’s “typical monthly loan payment” is $250 a month for a ten-year repayment plan; one-fifth the amount and one-half the length of my own. The amount I hold in student loans is shared only by three percent of others who hold any, and even then, primarily among those who have advanced degrees, such as doctors and attorneys. Between my ignorance and my father’s unwillingness or inability to help, I’ve somehow wound up paying as much as those likely making much more than me with a bachelor’s from a state school to show for it.

I can’t decide if venting is making me feel better or worse about the situation so, certainly not for lack of material, I’m stopping for now.