I started school at the University of Alberta in 2005. I cobbled together my first and second year’s tuition by selling my car, working part-time, and racking up a $16,000 student line of credit which I paid off by graduation (some of it I repaid with disbursed student loans).
I didn’t take out my first student loan until 2009. I took out my last in 2010. The pre-interest total came to $20,575. That sum consists of my Federal student loan of $10,580 collecting interest at a floating rate of approximately 5.5% (paid in full as of October 1, 2012) and my Provincial student loan of $9,995 at a variable interest rate of 3%. My student loans entered the grace period in September 2011, and I managed to pay $2500 before my loans officially entered repayment on March 1, 2012. I paid off the balance over the next 1.5 years, successfully becoming debt-free in 22 months.
By paying off my student loans 22 months instead of the 10-year repayment plan they were set at, I saved myself $3,853 in interest — that’s nearly 20% of the original loan balance!
How I feel about my student loans: I’m lucky. I recognize that others might not be so lucky , others are more so. We all start off somewhere, and it’s not really worth it to get hung-up on who has a perceived easier ride. I get jealous when my friends only owe $5,000 or even nothing in student loans, but whenever I see those stories about students that owe ludicrous sums like $200,000 in student loans and are fighting to pay them off at something stupid like $11/hr, I am grateful I only had $20K to grapple with.
How I beat them: regular payments, cash windfalls, and yes, a little bit of sacrifice. I’m grateful my disposition to save let me grow some investments and then make big debt payments — including the one that finally killed my student loan debt. There really is no easy way out of debt: just pay it off. It’s not fun, but the rewards of being debt-free are worth it.