Most students in the United States are dealing with student loans. Some of them may be dealing with a few thousand dollars, while others have the enviable position of having to deal with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. This may seem like a nightmare scenario and a negative situation.
Well, if you read between the lines and you look at the history of student loans, it’s not all that bad. Even if you are dealing with the headaches of having to pay off your loans every single month for many years to come, understand the proper context of those loans. Also, understand that there are some options available to you.
Make no mistake about it, student loans have been a blessing to the American middle class. There is a tremendous amount of class mobility in the United States. Part of this is due to government programs, like the GI Bill, but this is also due to the blossoming of the private student loan market. There are many working class and poor families who are sending their kids to college thanks to student loans. Once these kids graduate, they are on the fast track to a middle class lifestyle. They increase their spending power and they’re able to pay off their loans sooner rather than later.
The interesting thing is that when they achieve middle class status, they stay there. Their kids become middle class or even they grandkids become upper class. Do you see how this all works out?
In terms of societal benefits, student loans have had a net positive outcome and impact. Compare this situation with other countries. This is especially true in developing countries. If somebody’s born poor, chances are the best thing that person can look forward to is for him or her to die working class. In other words, to go from having no job and starving to having a job and still starving from time to time. Depending on where that person comes from, the person can then try to work outside the country as a foreign worker or a contract worker and send money back to his or her family.
Americans don’t have to hassle with this. Instead, they have access to a student loan system that can reward ambitious and hard-working people to improve their lot in life. The great thing about the American experiment is that it doesn’t matter where your parents came from and the financial status of your family when you were born.
What matters is what level you find yourself when you die. In other words, the focus is on responsibility. The focus is on the individual creating his or her own personal financial reality. Do you see the difference here?
Student loans form a key part of this dynamic. Student loans enable this dynamic to even take place.
Considering the tremendously positive impact student loans have had on the American middle class, it is quite shocking and disappointing that most graduates treat student loans like a disease. They treat as some unfortunate accident that happened to them.
The reason why this is the case is because people are under this false mindset that college education should be free. While that topic is up for political debate, in terms of economic realities, it isn’t free. It’s a privilege that you pay for. It’s not a right. It’s not a basic entitlement that anybody born into this society can quickly claim. You have to work for it. There is some sort of exchange. For you to join the middle class through a college diploma, you have to pay off the student loans. There is an exchange there.
The problem is, a lot of Americans have this entitlement that somehow or someway just because they’re born here that they deserve to get free schooling. While this may be true in other countries, like the UK, this is not true in the United States.
The first thing that you can do to make progress with your personal relationship with your student loan debt is resolve to learn to live with it. The focus here is on learning. You just really have to focus on coping mechanisms that will enable you to persist in paying off these loans month after month for decades. It’s not going to go away. You can either treat it as something that’s automatic, so you can quickly get it out of your mind or you can choose to agonize over it. You can choose to let it define you, so you become a bitter and negative person because of it. It really is your choice.
Another way you can deal with student loan obligations is to look at the other side of the equation. There are two sides. You can choose to reduce your expenses and liabilities, or you can increase the amount of money that you’re taking in every month. The more money you have, of course, the more you can throw at your long-term debts.
Focus on increasing your income. We’re not just talking about taking out a second job, which is always a possibility. You can look into getting promoted at your job, or asking for a raise. Another option is to become a freelancer. Thanks to the internet, there are just so many work-at-home opportunities available online. The best part is you can work as little or as much as you want. There’s a certain amount of predictability there as long as you’re able to please your clients.
The more expense you cut down on, the more money you free up. You can then take this cash and make debt repayment your number one priority. You essentially change your spending patterns. Instead of taking on more expenses, you can freeze your expenses and reduce them, so that you free up enough of your income and devote this to debt repayment.
Look at you multi-year adventure of repaying your huge student loans as a ride. It’s like a little journey you take. You start from point A, and then go to point B, all the way to point Z. Just like with any kind of road trip, you can choose to be impatient and be frustrated or you can just enjoy the process. You can look at is a puzzle or challenge where you try to boost your income at certain points, so you can pay off your debts sooner rather than later. Ultimately, it all boils down to your choice of mindset.