In our Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.
Today, one woman shares how she amassed enough scholarships to graduate from college debt-free.
The first time I ever heard about student loan debt was in 2007. I was a high school senior in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, who was in the midst of applying for colleges.
My cousin, who had graduated with a business degree six months earlier, had come over to visit and was complaining about someone named Sallie Mae. Since getting her degree, she hadn’t been able to find a job—and was struggling to make payments on her $9,000 of student debt.
I wondered: Who in the world is Sallie Mae?
After hearing my cousin’s explanation—that Sallie Mae was a company that gives students money to attend college—I was shocked, worried and confused.
I’d never thought critically about the costs associated with going to college. Everyone—family, teachers, friends and even my guidance counselors—just told me I needed to attend in order to secure a better future, which I could do by choosing the school that offered the best education. But it hadn’t occurred to me that I’d have to pay for that privilege.
My mind started racing: How would I ever be able to afford college? The housing bubble had just burst, and I knew my mom, a real estate agent, wouldn’t be able to contribute. What would happen if I couldn’t come up with the money? Would I still be able to get a good job?
I knew I had to come up with a plan—quick.