Student debt is a problem many students encounter during college. Many jobs today require some form of higher education, which leaves many students with no other choice than to accrue a bunch of debt in order to receive an education. This problem is not one that will just go away, and it is causing many students to make sacrifices in order to pay for their education.

Going to college is something that has been programmed into my mind since I was in elementary school. In fourth grade, there was a banner in our hallway that said “Class of 2018” – a reminder from our teachers that graduating from high school shouldn’t be our last stop.

Looking back, this was my first real memory that included thinking about college at all. At the time it seemed so far, but fast forward to now, and I’m already a sophomore in college.

I am right where I knew I was going to be. However, my fourth-grade teachers conveniently left out the fact that college cost tens of thousands of dollars to attend, and I would most likely have to incur tons of debt to pay for higher education that was taught to me as a necessity, something I would not be able to succeed without.

We are not taught about how much college costs until we get to high school, and even then, I didn’t learn about the different types of student loans until I was a senior in high school. This may seem ridiculous, but it is true.

When you have finally accepted the reality that you will be severely in debt, the army recruiter comes to your class and you think “that doesn’t seem so bad.” Or even better, a spokesman from a trade school comes to tell you that you in fact don’t need a four-year degree to be successful, and then you realize that your fourth-grade teachers were only telling one-half of the story.

While I had already made plans to go to college and worked my butt off in high school to try and get as many scholarships as I could, it still was not enough. So now I am starting to look closer at my FAFSA loans and even though I have to pay them off one day, I am thankful that I currently have one less thing to worry about.

Tech actually has lots of resources on different types of loans, which was very helpful for a uninformed first-generation student like me. They had many different types of loans listed on the financial aid website which helped me narrow down my choices. I also learned more about the ways Tech helps students through Red to Black financial coaching. They can help you budget or figure out what loans would be best for you.

Student loans are a necessity for me now and seem a little less scary as I have just accepted the fact that I need them. Now that I have been in school for awhile, I have learned about new ways to save myself money and ways that I can get ahead of my debt, so it will not be so bad when I graduate. Certain tips and tricks for getting scholarships have helped along the way too.

My debt is something that will follow me post-graduation, but I have to believe the value of my education is worth it. On hard days, it is easy to lose hope, but then I remember how blessed I am to even have the opportunity to gain a higher education.

I think about all the opportunities I’ll have with my degree, and my situation doesn’t seem so bad. I am receiving this education to get a well-paying job that will help me pay off these loans fast anyway, so I might as well work hard and achieve my goals.  

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