student loans; a rant

today i spent a good amount of time on the phone with the servicer who is handling my student loans–which are coming due November 20th (that six month grace period really FLEW by).   my loan repayment for graduate school is about $58,000 on top of what i have left to pay on my undergrad (about $6 grand).  when i saw this paperwork for the first time, it literally took my breath away–and by that i mean, i almost puked.  i understood the cost that was associated with the graduate program that i enrolled in–and i understood that there were no scholarships or teacher assistant-ships for graduate students as well.  yet, somehow when you sign that “accept” letter, all of the money owed just seemed so far in the future that it wasn’t really a reality.  so, here i am, about 4 years after accepting my graduate school admittance letter, and the money is doing all of the talking.  and walking–all over me.

i am trying very hard to not spiral into a black void of financial depression. does that sound bleak or what?

i feel like i sort of barely got back on top of things from a messy divorce–and by ‘on top’ i mean mutual debt paid off and being able to afford all other monthly payments–not including savings or paying any credit cards off–but rather, just staying afloat and being able to eat a nice meal in a fancy restaurant once in a while.  BUT, i was just barely there.  then, the boyfriend moved in and i thought i would have a little extra for things like traveling or a new car or home improvements–things i have never been able to afford while in school.  turns out the living expenses that are now split in two are pretty much equaling out to be enough to send a monthly payment to the government.

i feel like i am back to square one.  a college graduate with two degrees and a great job–but not much else to show for it other than a smile on face face because i love what i do.  however, at the same time i have a car that makes so many inappropriate noises that i am certain the entire engine will fall out at any moment.  and, when that happens, i am truly f*cked because the engineless car will end up being a nice ornament for the side of my street, because my broke ass won’t be able to fix it.  i could barely afford two new tires last month.

so where is the bright side in all of this?  yeah, i have been asking myself that same question.  and here is it:  i got to go to graduate school.  one of the best actually.  AND, it got me the kind of job (nay, career!) i had been searching for.  working in the non-profit world will NEVER get me a lot of money, and i need to get used to that now.  my salary may never be six figures and i need to be ok with that.  i had an opportunity to learn, write, teach, be heard, and get an education.  i just had the opportunity to write a piece for United Way’s blog about a refugee woman who never had the chance for an education–and all i had to do was sign some papers saying i would pay back some money.  a shit ton of money, no less–but at least i had the choice.

if i can’t afford to put gas in my car, i can walk.
if i can’t afford to eat a 4 star meal in a nice restaurant, i can cook.
if i can’t afford to travel, i can write stories about wanting to.

i have my mind, my health, and enough food in the pantry to last at least a few weeks–if i push it.  i have a warm bed to sleep in, hot water, and a box of wine on my counter.  it could be worse.  right?

……as she tries not to bawl….

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