Student loan debt has been a part of my life for over a decade now. I was always told it was considered “good debt” so I honestly never really thought much about it. The interest rate is low, and the payments are flexible and manageable so I always just approached it as an eventual target. Something I’ll get around to paying off.
Until now. Maybe it’s like my revolving 0% credit card debt – I’m just tired of seeing it and want it gone. I’m at the point that I finally want to focus on it. That’s where my March challenge comes in.
The Student Loan Debt Movement
I’m pretty passionate about personal finance education (or the lack thereof) so I was super excited when I heard about the Student Loan Debt Movement, a coordinated effort within the personal finance community to bring attention to the issue of student loan debt. The goal is to encourage and inspire people to pay off over a million dollars in student loan debt over the month of March.
Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt.* That number is so large it actually sounds absurd to me. I suppose when you spread it across the 44 million borrowers that’s about $34,000 per person so it makes it a little easier to grasp (though still tough to swallow). But combined with the amount of credit card debt in this country (surprisingly around $600 billion less than student loans), it really is frightening how complacent we’ve become toward the idea of debt.
It’s not just ignorance of finances, though that’s a major component, but an actual attitude change toward debt itself. Instead of being a taboo but necessary evil at times, it’s become a way of life. We’ve come to a point where we expect and encourage young people to take on massive debt without a real understanding of what that means.
That’s why I love the Student Loan Debt Movement for its focus on paying off your loans. It’s not about critiquing the system, but instead, it’s targeting awareness in a tangible way. The debate around the cost of college usually feels distant even for those of us affected by it because the numbers are just so big and the subject so nuanced. I like the idea of bringing it back to basics – let’s pay off what we can as fast as we can. The fact that it’s gamified (join the movement for a chance to win $500!) makes it even more awesome.
My Student Loan Status
Given my general apathy toward my student loan debt, I was kind of surprised by how excited I got when I first heard about the Student Loan Debt Movement. Maybe it just came at the right time, but I really feel inspired to tackle my loan.
Fortunately, my debt is much lower than it could have been. My first degree was covered by scholarships, so I only needed loans when I went back for a second degree…my do-over degree.
(As a curious aside, how many of you actually use the degree you earned? Full disclosure, I don’t use either of mine.)
Anyway, I started out with almost $17,000 in student loans and almost 13 years later I still owe just north of $3,000.
My Contribution to “the Movement”
I really have no idea how much extra I can contribute to my student loans this month, but I love a challenge so I’m gonna throw out a crazy goal for myself.
Typically I pay about $150 a month toward my loan. Under my latest plan (using undebt.it), I was hoping to double that and pay $300. But in the spirit of the Student Loan Debt Movement, I’m going to take it a giant leap beyond that and shoot for a payment of $600 this month.
Eek!! I have no idea where I’m going to find another $300, but I’m excited to challenge myself to try.
How about you? Do you have any student loan debt? Was it worth it? If you’ve got some debt, join me in the movement to pay off as much as you can in March!
*For some more absurd numbers check out U.S. Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2018 | Student Loan Hero