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We Asked Young People About Their Student Debt Burdens & It Was Pretty Devastating TBH

At The New York TimesTurn Up The Turn Out With Bernie Sanders’ event On Wednesday night (a part of their Get With The Times event series for college students), Sen. Sanders discussed a variety of issues that will undoubtedly affect college students heading into the midterms and beyond. 

While discussing the various obstacles that their generation faces, Sanders touched on the very real, very scary nature of of how much student debt modern college students are saddled with — and how it’s one of the obstacles that can and should rally young people to show up at the polls and hold their elected officials accountable. 

With recent news from the federal reserve that outstanding student loans in the U.S. have hit $1.53 trillion (a number a lot of us can’t even really wrap our heads around), none of this is a surprise. But we obviously wanted to know more, so we asked our friends on Instagram and IRL to tell us a bit more about about their student debt experiences and what their educations have cost their brains and their bank accounts. Here’s what they said. 

Some were real candid about how the whole thing feels a bit like a Catch 22 scam — something that makes them feel hopeless and without opportunities. 

“We’re told to go to college so we can get a good career. Meanwhile, it’s hard to find work & we’re in debt ” – Brittany 

“I really feel screwed over because I have a lot of debt and work 2 jobs to survive.” – Faith

My student loan debt makes me feel like I’m treading water. I spend thousands of dollars every year that I could otherwise be saving or using to further my career (or education). It’s depressing to feel like my life—or the life I want—is on hold until my student loans are gone.” – Carolyn 

“My student loans never seem to go away, even though I only took out a few thousand dollars for my last semester of school. Aside from rent, they’ve been my most pressing financial burden since graduating college. After a while, the interest started building up so intensely that my mom and I agreed that she’d pay it off from her savings and I’d pay her back every month. I’m grateful she was able to help me pay it off because if not, I’d still be drowning in debt. It’s super relieving knowing it’s no longer piling up, but it’s infuriating that we paid so much more than we needed to because of the interest. If we were in a less fortunate financial situation, I’d still be paying it off little by little with no end in sight.” – Suzy

Some people just went off with the numbers — which speak for themselves, tbh.

“$100,000 in student loans and it’s the scariest part about finally graduating, even with a masters.” – Jessy 

“$120,000.” @worldtraveling95

“$5k left on my loan, $4-5K in credit card debt.” – Molly

“I’m paying about 12k a year after grants/scholarships.” – Claudia 

“I’m blessed enough to have merit scholarships, but it still isn’t enough.” – Morgan 

“For my BS and my MA, I took out almost $90,000 in loans! I make $33,000 a year. RIP vacations.” – Ash

Mostly, though, folks are just stressed and scared and desperate for sustainable solutions. 

“Makes me stress about returning to obtain my Master’s & getting into more school debt.” – Janet

“I’m not even in college yet but I already stress about how expensive it is going to be.” – Helen 

“I stress about it Every Day!! & it gets worse because of tuition hikes.” – Sarah 

“Student debt burdens me along with my other bills – rent, utilities, car, car insurance, etc because I have so many payments to make a month. But because student debt is my largest amount of debt compared to those other things, i understand it’s going to take the longest to pay off. So while the monthly payment can be daunting + the interest building up, it’s the most ‘flexible’ debt, if you will. For example, I drive my car daily so my car payment and car insurance payment absolutely must be paid every month. As for my student debt, I actually currently have payments deferred until the new year to catch up on some other debts!  So what I’m saying is I can’t “defer” my car payment but I can do so with my student loan.  It definitely effects my mental health but so do all those other bills. I think the ability to adjust or defer my student loan gives me some temporary peace of mind that I can’t do with my car payments.” – Katie 

Do you have a story about how student debt has affected your life pre- or post-grad? Hit us up and tell us about it by emailing Sources@hercampus.com

Katherine (or Katie) is the News Editor and resident witch at Her Campus. She first fell in love with journalism while attending SUNY New Paltz ('14). Since then, she has worked on the staffs at MTV News and Bustle writing about politics, intersectional social issues and more before serving as staff researcher at Lady Parts Justice League. Her work has been published in Women's Health, the Daily Dot, Public Radio International (PRI) and WNYC and she's been a regular panelist on a few podcasts (mostly screaming about repro rights.)  She is a Libra with a Taurus moon and a Scorpio ascendant, which either means nothing or everything. She loves strong diner coffee, reading tarot for strangers at the bar and watching the same three horror movie documentaries. She lives in the Hudson Valley with too many animals.     
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