Monday, September 16, 2013

student loans

Soon after I graduated law school a friend asked me to talk to her sister. My friend and I both graduated from our respective graduate programs with more than $150,000 in student loan debt (not credit card debt). We both were paying the least amount possible (hers were income based, mine were based on a 20 year repayment). We continue to pay approximately the amount of a mortgage towards student loan debt. Coming out of undergraduate, both of us had loans. Since I had spent my first two years at PVCC and I worked all through college, I had less than $30,000 in debt from undergraduate loans.

My friend's sister had applied to grad school in social work and was enamored with NYU's social work program. This program at the time was wildly expensive, no doubt even more so today, and at the time the two year program was competitive with what my three year law school program cost. My friend had tried to talk to her sister about student loans and the burden the loans would be for decades to come, but like most a. young people and b. people super excited about his/her future, she didnt want to listen to her sister.

I sat with her one evening at a restaurant in a mall in northern Virginia. I told her the burden of student loans. She really didnt want to hear it from me either. Her perspective may have been it is easy for me to say. I had the job I wanted after law school (working for legal services) and had just gotten married. She certainly could look at me and say I had everything I wanted, so it was easy for me to look back with some regret on the student loan aspect of my experience. I may have made the same choice to pursue law if I had been fully aware of the burdens of student loans, but I may have made other decisions with respect to working during school or part time graduate school. I hope to encourage our young people to be fully aware of the costs over the long term of student loans so that students and their families can make the best possible decision.

My friend's sister ultimately did not go to a social work program or to NYC. She choose a modest graduate program in a field that was in demand and went to a state school. She is doing well.

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