Paying Off Debt

by Veronica
(Los Angeles, CA USA)

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Paying Off Debt While Traveling the World--a Dream Come True! - After graduating a reputable private college, and amassing tremendous field experience (not to mention connections) I was sure that I would land the job of my dreams. My plan was to work for several years as a research assistant at a top university, and then apply to their graduate school program. However, graduating college in 2009 came with one great disadvantage: the near impossibility of finding a job. So here I was, $30,000 in debt, no job, and no more loans to pay for my apartment. Money, and time, were running out quickly.

Desperate, I decided to apply for a teaching position in South Korea. In no time, I was packing my bags, and ready to become an English teacher. Having had no prior teaching experience whatsoever, I was quite nervous. Once I arrived in Korea, all my worries slowly lifted away.

As an English teacher in South Korea, my round-trip airfare was to be paid for, I would be given a settlement allowance of about $300, my apartment would be paid for, and upon completion of my one year contract, I would receive a one year bonus. No job in America would have been able to offer me such a lucrative deal.

I finished a one year contract, during which time I saved $5,000, paid off $10,000 in debt, and traveled around Japan for two weeks. I am now half-way through my second year contract and have already paid off $5,000 more in debt, and have taken a three week trip to Malaysia and the Philippines.

Granted, my loan is not completely paid off, but I am getting there, at a much faster rate than I would have if I had stayed at home. The loan I had throughout college helped me survive: it allowed me to buy a new computer, pay rent for my apartment, and stay current with bills. I would not have been able to endure college without it, so I do not regret it for a minute.

In a way, my loan is what brought me to South Korea. I couldn't be happier: I love teaching, I have a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the world, all while saving money and paying off debt. Who could ask for more? You owe it to yourself to be adventurous-give it a shot!

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Veronica for sharing your paying off debt story with a happy ending. Paying off debt can be very challenging for students after they graduate. There are also some programs for student loan forgiveness for teachers and recent federal rules to consolidate your student loans , with any balance forgiven after 25 years, but most students won’t qualify. Good luck to you.

How to manage your student loans

(Leah, Florida)

How to manage your
student loans . This is a million dollar question. There are many ways to manage the loans but some of the best advice I can offer is to not even get the loan in the first place.

There are many options out there to help pay for your college. One way is by volunteering your time to a worthy cause. You can start this search by seeking information from your financial aid department of your college. Once enrolled they can give you a list of organizations that need volunteers. Instead of receiving a pay check you actually receive credit towards your college bill. For example you receive $10.00 an hour of volunteer service. I recently volunteered at a local library. I was able to volunteer 75 hours which meant $750.00 towards my tuition. I was able to do this each semester which really impacted my loan amounts.

Another great way to eliminate to reduce your student loans, my college offered a program that if I was to make my student loan payments on time for a period of 6 months they would reduce my tuition bill by $7500.00, again another way to reduce my loan.

Also you can see if your college has any work programs to help you receive income while going to school. My college had a program that allowed you to work at the college and instead of receiving a pay check at the end of the week you actually had the money applied to your tuition.

Last but not least you can actually make small payments monthly to your college to help offset the amount you need to borrow. I pay $25.00 to $50.00 a month to my college towards my tuition. These are just a few options I have encountered.

If you look hard enough you can find options to help off set the cost of the student loans you will need to pay for your schooling. So my advice on tips on managing your student loans is to do what you can to avoid the loans in the first place.

Read more tips on Paying off Student Loans from other students and parents who have been through the student loan process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Leah for sharing some very practical advice on how to manage your student loans. You are right that it is best to avoid the loans in the first place. This is a good reminder for students to find out all the programs your college or university offers to help you pay for college, and then take advantage of them. Good luck to you.

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