I’m looking at my options as a student loan holder, and I thought I’d share my thoughts for anyone else in this position (I get the impression that for anyone under forty, you’re all in this position with me, big boat, but it’s still sinking).
Like a lot of people, I’m struggling to pay back my loans. My education background probably reads as something people snark at as the perfect example why millennials are worthless. I have a master’s in medieval history.
Now, I know that sounds like poor life planning, but it really wasn’t. I was being groomed by several well-established professors for a professorship position. All that would have gone swimmingly in any other decade, but the last ten years have been tough for anyone hoping to get into academics for two reasons: one, the recession (which sent a lot of people back to school when the jobs dried up and exhausted scholarship opportunities) and two, the adjunct professor position.
Point one is obvious, but point two requires a little explaining. In the last decade, colleges and universities have discovered the adjunct position saves them a lot of money. Instead of hiring full-time professors who are experts in their fields, they can hire part-time adjuncts, who make very little money (as little as several hundred across an entire semester) and teach the low-level classes. These adjuncts may be experts or not, but they are cheap. Hiring so many adjuncts have saved universities lots of money, but it has also made choosing a career in academics all that much more impossible.
So, I’ve been left with a lot of loans to pay off and not a lot of money to pay them with. Here are the options that I see available:
- This seems like perhaps the best option. I could finally get around to consolidating my loans and getting on an income-based repayment plan. That would keep my payments low. In twenty or so years, whatever is left on my loan is forgiven. But there are downsides. For one, with the current administration already cutting some student loan programs, there’s no guarantee this one will survive. Also, if I still have a hefty bill at the end that is forgiven (a very likely possibility), that forgiveness is charged as income on my taxes, which could send me into bankruptcy in my fifties.
- File bankruptcy and hope for the best. There are student loan lawyers who claim to be good at helping on this, but it’s still something of a long shot. It is almost impossible to get student loans removed through bankruptcy because of a series of stupid federal laws. I’d have to be able to claim they are making me destitute which is close to true but not close enough.
- Continue on the same. I could try to talk to the loan companies, get a slight reprieve, and hope a better job comes along to help me pay everything back. This, too, is a long shot.
It looks to me like option one really is the only option at this point. I’m going to look more into consolidating through the federal government. I’ll just have to hope the program stays open. Taxes in twenty years, well, hopefully I’m rich by then.