I’m taking a personal financial management class – half because I want to see what new concepts I can pick up and half because it’s my last term of school and I have some major senioritis (symptoms may include late papers, easy classes, oversleeping, and some job search anxiety). For one of my class projects, I had to pick a house and walk through the steps of financing and buying the property. That was fun and interesting (if you’re a nerd like me), but part of searching was figuring out how to pay for it.
The calculators for "how much house can you afford" ask about your other debt payments. With my credit card paid off, I’m only looking at student loans. But, I hit a bit of a snafu when I looked up what they will cost me in monthly payments.
Federal student loans offer a variety of repayment plans, but the standard plan is the best because it results in the least interest paid, and it’s only a 10-year term, which means you won’t still be paying off your loans when your kids apply for loans of their own. The downside is that the standard repayment plan comes with the largest monthly payment.
Between all of my loans, my monthly payment on the standard plan comes out to $470. Not really an amount I’ll be able to pay during my first year out of school.
I wanted to put myself on the standard repayment plan right off the bat, and tackle this debt head-on. I wanted to consolidate my loans into one low rate while rates are dropping. But it looks like just to be able to make the minimums, I’ll have to stay on the graduated repayment plan (where the bills start small and get bigger every year) – with payments of $319 (at first).
Trust me, I’m really disappointed by this. I don’t know why I didn’t run the numbers until now, other than the fact that it’s easier to run them now that I’m done taking out new loans. It’s startling to be this close to repayment and suddenly realize that I will have trouble paying the bills.
My employment is uncertain. I’m going to do the best I can with job applications and internship applications over the next few weeks… but I’ve come to realize that I’ll have to do a lot more than that. I can’t afford anything outside of Ramen to eat and car maintenance, since I’ll be needing that to get to a job. I’ll have to start Compacting again.
I’d thought I was out of the woods, but I’m really, really not. Somewhere deep inside my brain, my current Self is kicking my 17-year-old Self in the pants for getting us into this mess!