I suppose anyone looking to go to art school that doesn't have a trust fund or stash of precious jewels buried in their back yard probably has considered taking on the financial responsibility of getting big loans. Scholarships and grantrs aside just talking about Loans. I have made it through four years at a public university debt free, but private schools are an entirely different ballpark. Tuition is very expensive and the cost of living becomes important. Many students have found that over the course of 4+ years in college they have pushed their bodies to the edge in terms of nutrition, health, and hygiene. "Maybe no one will notice if I don't where deoderant today." "You BUY toilet paper? I take mine from department store bathrooms? " "Of course I eat well mom, I have Ramen noodles, milk and Frosted Flakes what more do you really need"
For highschool students looking to attend Art Schools it can be pretty intimidating seeing the huge cost of tuition (well maybe after they have lived with out Mommy and Daddy's cash flow and groceries for a month they will be intimidated)
So Graduates or near grads, I would like to know how has it been paying off your loans? Is it pretty reasonable? Feasible? Any advice about where to get a good loan or what to avoid? How you should set up the payment plan? Is longer better?
Well since I am getting my second Bachelors degree right now, I can answer the question about repayments because I am still in repayment of my first Bachelors degree.
First off, Federal student loans (which most everyone gets) MUST be repaid. You cannot clear the slate by filing for bankruptcy. You cannot default. This debt will follow you to your death or full repayment, whichever comes first. Loans are typically spread out on a 10-year repayment plan, however, if you reduce your monthly repayment amount or consolidate your loans, this timeframe will extend. Because of the economy, many have to extend their loan repayment period.
I only borrowed 25K for my initial degree, chump change by todays costs. I will have officially repaid it off in the Fall of 2006 (the end of my 10 year repayment period). All in all I will have paid nearly 10K in interest on the loan, so in essence, I paid 35K for my education, not 25K. Education loans are big business, and they make a lot of money at it.
Rules? Borrow ONLY what you need. They will offer you more. Don't take it. I've seen people use school loans to buy niceties not necessities. That brand new computer is going to cost you 3 times the price of a new computer in 10 years. Don't use school loans for such things, if you can help it.
What is perhaps the most enlightening experience is the exit interview you go through concerning your school loans. Now mind you, they don't tell you this when you initially take them out, they only tell you this when you are about to repay them. They start out by saying if you borrowed x amount for school, you would need to make y in order to make a living... as in be able to pay rent, buy necessities, etc. Not live comfortably, just make a living. At the time I graduated, the annual salary they quoted for me was about 2 times the going starting salary for someone in my field. All I needed to do was find a job that paid double what every other job was paying for new hires. I didn't. I found a job in an unrelated field.
Not trying to scare you, but for some, life eating ramen noodles and frosted flakes is not over yet.
About deferment. You can defer repayment while serving in the military, serving in the peace corps, while in school, and the first 6 months after graduation. If you cannot find work in your field after 6 months, hehe, guess what, you still get to repay your loans. They don't care what job you get, as long as you can find ANY job, you WILL begin repayment. You have to show proof that you are unable to find employment doing ANYTHING. You will not be allowed to hold out for that dream job in your field, unless you can repay while you wait. They want their money back, so that friendly little institution that never even made a peep to you while you were in school will be corresponding with you monthly to remind you of your responsibilities. All school loans end up in Sallie Mae's hands, just as all home loans end up in Fannie Mae's hands. You will get to know both very well over the course of your existence.
Don't let this scare you away from going to school, let it be a reminder to you to not extend your time in school. Most people spend more than 4 years getting a 4 year degree. You don't want to spend 6 unless you are getting an advanced degree.
Monthly payments? Think of it in terms of a car loan. You just bought a really nice new car and put nothing down when you bought it. That's what you will be expected to pay each month. Take that amount and add in your monthly rent, living expenses, etc and that's what you will need to bring home each month after taxes. It will be tight. But if you are doing something that you love to do, you don't notice it as much. If you end up making minimum wage somewhere, life in college will seem like it was heaven.
Get serious about your education and get even more serious about your future job.
I'll give this a shot since no one's replied yet -- get into the best possible school that will accept you and then do what you have to to make it happen. Once you're accepted there are tons of grants, loans, scholarships and programs to offset tuition.
As far as paying them back, I've heard student loans described as debts to carry (as opposed to credit cards etc that are debts to clear). Payments are usually low and you can stretch them out for 20 years if you have to - and groups like Sallie Mae offer fair deals for consolidating multiple debts into one small payment. It ends up being another monthly bill, that's about it. You might find you have less freedom to coast between jobs, but you can defer payments for up to 6 months at a time when things are tough, and if you become a full time student again payments are automatically deferred for the period of enrollment (which is why lots of folks become career students)
But whatever you do, don't default. They're considered government debts and the worst kind of black mark goes on your record if you don't pay back the big boys.
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