I started my journey in 2009 when I decided to go to a private university with a dream to become an airline pilot. I knew that my goals were quite ambitious but I knew I could accomplish them with a bit of assistance. Within my first semester, I realized that becoming a pilot was not for me, so I quickly changed gears and began pursuing a degree in Air Traffic Management. At the time of my switch, I did my research and I had heard from many different people that not long after graduation, air traffic controllers earn quite a large salary, sometimes reaching six figures. I was thrilled considering I knew staying in an expensive private school would cost quite a bit of money; however, I wasn’t worried since the benefit would be enough to cover my payments and more. I was also informed by professors, FAA employees, and several other citizens that air traffic controllers were highly in demand and that the FAA would be replacing 80% of its workforce in the next few years. Even better, I thought, since a job would essentially be guaranteed.
I proceeded to complete my degree while maintaining a GPA of 3.864 and graduating with honors in May 2011. I even scored a perfect 100% on my AT-SAT Test (Air Traffic Selection and Training). At that point in time, we were notified of a slight hiring slow-down. I thought for sure with my background and grades, I would have no problem getting hired as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. I was advised that going back to school was the only option that could buy me a little more time to repay my loan; I decided to go ahead and pursue my Masters in Business Administration since going back to school was the only option I had to defer my loans. Regrettably, that was only a temporary solution to a now even bigger problem.
After starting my MBA, I was under the impression that it was going to be temporary, until I was called by the FAA; at that point I was planning to take a break in school and finished my MBA at a later time. However, to my surprise, I graduated in December of 2012 with still no call from the FAA.
As of today, my combined loan amount for both undergraduate and graduate degrees is $194k; while I have been making payments every month, it just doesn't seem to be going down. My monthly loan payment is about equivallent to 2 mortgages. I am in constant contact with my private loan company regarding payment options; they have notified me of the following options:
Forbearance: If I can’t make the payment now, I can forbear for a maximum of nine months in three month intervals. However, this option will continue to accrue interest and my payments will only become higher once I am ready to pay.
Consolidation: I have applied to all and been rejected for debt to income ration.
At some point, I asked the loan company before about paying what I can as I go, they informed that partial payments were “not an option.” I also understand their point of view. They want their money back and I want to give it to them. Also, I've been making payments, so why would they want to work with me if they are benefiting from the current situation? I could stop paying my loans but that would hurt myself, and even worse, my cosigners.
As of right now, I work as a data analyst for a great company and I make a decent living. About 75% of my salary goes towards loans payments and the remainder is spent on my car, car insurance and gas. I am blessed to be able to live with my parents. Living on my own feels like a dream to me. I know it will happen at some point, so I am patiently waiting and staying optimistic.I have considered looking for higher paying jobs and have done quite a bit of research online. With my skill level and experience, my current salary is pretty close to industry average. I would need close to double my current salary to be independent and I have yet to find any companies willing to pay for that.
My goal is to continue to work hard and pay off my loans until they are completely gone. I wanted to share my story for a few reasons. I know there are many people in my boat and I want them to know they are not alone. Also, any help or support is greatly appreciated including tips to get on the right path.