I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced that many borrowers with federal student loans will be forgiven $10,000 of their debt. Those who borrowed and also got Pell Grants qualify for an additional $10,000 of forgiveness. This applies to anyone earning less than $125,000 per year, or married couples jointly filing tax returns earning less than $250,000. Loans after June 30, 2022 aren’t eligible.
Although I won’t be personally affected by this plan, I think it’s a good idea. Bill and I paid off my student loans in 2018, nine years early. But we were able to do that because we’ve been extraordinarily fortunate. Living in Germany has been very good for us in most ways, but especially financially. We don’t have children or elderly relatives to support, and we don’t own a home. Back in 2007, when Bill went to Iraq and got a temporary bump in pay, I made paying off my loans a priority, so we wouldn’t be burdened with them as we aged.
I was also very lucky in that in 2002, just after I graduated from the University of South Carolina with dual master’s degrees, I was able to take advantage of a very low interest rate that probably isn’t available anymore (although I haven’t checked). I consolidated my loans and locked in that rate (3.75), and that really helped me a lot. I remember thinking the $57,000 in Stafford Loans I owed would never get paid off– but I was able to do it, little by little. Now I realize that I actually got a bargain. Some people borrow that much for just one degree. I managed to get three.
Even though we managed to pay off my loans in full, I have a lot of empathy for today’s borrowers. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed since I was last in school. At the same time, salaries have stayed pretty stagnant. Then we had the pandemic, which caused a great deal of chaos for people in the workforce. Bill and I were responsible, and we did make paying the student loans off a focal point. But that’s only because we could. Not everyone has that choice. And when you’re working your ass off for employers who don’t necessarily value you with decent pay, it can feel like you’re on a hamster wheel. I know how it is. I was there myself when I was single.
It seems like Mr. Biden can’t do anything to please some people. I’ve noticed many folks whining about this new plan to help borrowers. So many folks think it’s unfair to forgive debt, especially if they’ve paid off their loans. I’ve seen a lot of people who are shocked that people earning up to $125,000 will qualify. Do those people understand that some areas of the country have a much lower standard of living than others do? Someone making $125,000 may seem “wealthy” in rural Kentucky or Arkansas, but they would be far from wealthy in California, New York, or parts of Virginia. I’m also willing to bet that a lot of Republicans will gladly take advantage of this plan, even as they complain about Biden.
I know it’s normal for people to complain when their preferred politician isn’t in office. The level of contempt some people have for Joe Biden is pretty sickening. I don’t understand it. I mean, I get that he’s not the most exciting we’ve ever had. He inherited quite a mess, though. I don’t remember any other incoming president facing the level of chaos Mr. Biden did in January 2021. Moreover, Donald Trump has literally done things that are CRIMINAL. People still think he should be in charge, in spite of his obvious propensity to lie, steal, cheat, and molest. I don’t understand why more Americans don’t want a law abiding, decent, responsible person in the White House. But try to ask some people about this, and they will accuse you of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and being a “hater”. I wouldn’t “hate” Trump if he didn’t act like he’s above the law and make the United States a laughing stock around the world.
Count me among those who think Mr. Biden has done remarkably well, under the unusual circumstances he’s faced. I don’t know if he’ll make it to a second term, but I will vote for him again if anyone like Trump or De Santis is running for president in 2024. I do think it would be good if he bowed out of a second term, mainly because he is so elderly and being POTUS has got to take a severe toll on him. I would like to see a younger person run for the Democrats. But I would take him ANY DAY over Trump, simply because he’s humane and decent, and he doesn’t steal classified documents, constantly golf, mug for the camera, or post on social media, nor does he brag about grabbing women by the pussy. Anything good Trump did for the United States was done at someone else’s expense. He is a classic narcissist, and they are never good for anyone but themselves.
Speaking of narcissists, I did take a peek at Twitter and noticed that Ex was crowing about this news. She claims her loans are paid off, but this will “help” her children. I couldn’t help but shake my head, because I know the reality behind her comments. Below is how she responded to one person who was lamenting about student loans:
That’s horrible! It’s like loan sharks just like another poster said. My student loans are no longer owed but my husband and several of my children have student loan debt and this will help our family tremendously! The only thing I’m worried about is my daughter in college now!
Ex forced Bill’s daughters to drop out of high school, get GEDs, enroll in college, and take out student loans, of which she helped herself to the excess after tuition was paid. The loans were taken out in her daughters’ names, which means that they alone were responsible for paying them off, even though it was Ex who was using the money. Younger daughter explained all of this to us, and told us that she had managed to pay off the debt, even though she doesn’t have a degree to show for it.
I also know that Ex has declared bankruptcy several times, including one time when she and Bill were married. Besides the bankruptcy, there was also a foreclosure. But there’s ol’ Ex, acting like she’s fiscally responsible. I don’t understand why she feels the need to lie to strangers on Twitter, but I guess it’s just a facet of her “extra” personality. When I met Bill, his credit rating was abysmal, and he was carrying credit cards with loan shark level interest rates. He now has an excellent credit rating, but that didn’t come without significant hard work and several long years of being very diligent about our finances. The end result is that we’ve both managed to recover from the financial disasters she wrought.
I probably shouldn’t pay any attention to her… but she is genuinely fascinating. If she’s out there in the wild, you know there are a lot of others like her. So many people feel like they have to fake it until they make it, and present a false self to everyone.
I’m glad that Joe Biden is doing something that will help middle class student loan borrowers. I know that some people don’t think this measure is enough, while some are resentful that they paid off their loans and won’t be benefiting. I, for one, think this is a good decision. What I think would be even better is if the cost of attending college went down significantly, as alternatives to college are also offered to those who would fare better learning a trade.
One thing I think Germany does right is offering higher education to those who are most likely to succeed, while also offering people the chance to learn skills or trades. Not everyone is cut out for academics, and not everyone needs a college degree to succeed. I am very grateful I had the chance to go to college and graduate school, and obviously, I could handle the work. But I often feel badly about the fact that I went to school and use my education, mostly, for this blog and entertaining Bill. It seems like a waste… even though I know that when I started graduate school, I had no plans to marry anyone. I was sure I was going to be an old maid. It’s funny how life changes just when you least expect it.
For those who wonder how I managed to pay off my loans… I’m going to offer my best tips. It may not work for you, but this is what worked for me. It’s pretty simple, actually. I started by paying an extra $20 per month on my minimum payment. At first, that extra money didn’t make a big dent, but it did help pay off interest faster, which led to the principal finally going down on a steady basis instead of staying the same. Always remember that if you’re paying the minimum, you won’t get anywhere with any expediency. That minimum will just pay for interest, and you want to work on the principal, which will also lower the amount of interest you get charged.
As time went on, I continued to add to the extra amount I paid each month. Maybe six months after I started paying an extra $20, I bumped the extra amount to $50. Then I went to $100 extra, and watched with delight as the principal diminished. I started getting letters from my lender, letting me know that I was paid ahead and didn’t need to keep paying extra. I ignored those letters and paid more and more, until I had finally whittled down my principal to about $2000. At that point, we had the money to just pay off the last of the loan, so that’s what I did. Boy, was that a good feeling! Again… we accomplished this nine years ahead of time! I’ve successfully used the same technique on car loans and paid them off ahead of time, saving money on interest and ridding myself of stress and headaches caused by debt.
It may initially seem very difficult to part with that extra $10 or $20 when it feels like you can’t keep ahead of your bills. But, if you’re buying $4 coffees or other little luxuries, you probably can afford to pay a little extra on your loans. It won’t seem to make a difference at first, but as time goes by, you will find that the little bit adds up, and you will soon have a cushion that will make paying off the debt more comfortable and less stressful. Of course, you do have to keep at it– consistently pay a little extra, and consider adding to the amount extra over time. That takes discipline, diligence, and determination. But if you set your mind to it, you will find that it really pays off in the long run. Just my one little pearl of advice to anyone who reads this.
Well, it’s time to practice guitar… got to do my Thursday vacuuming, too. It’s another hot day, and our poor backyard is just parched. I am praying for some rain.