Something happened that November right after my grace period was over. I inducted myself into an Income-Based Repayment plan, now known as Income-Driven Repayment plan or IDR. Ever since, I’ve been fortunate to pay only the mysterious amount up to 10% of my monthly income. So for a while, I was repaying anywhere from $49 to $300 per month to my loan provider, The Great Lakes. But this is calculated provided your income is above a certain bracket. Once I became a full-time freelancer, my income has yet to reach the point where my monthly payment is above $0, and thankfully because I’m not sure how I would afford it – or why I would spend 10% of my income on that instead of ever saving to have home of my own. To this day, I still live paycheck to paycheck, for the most part, salvaged in big part to the fact that I now am part of a family of 2 incomes where my boyfriend and I share everything. But a day will come when payments will have to be made again. Payments may be $0 today, but my annual interest of about $6,000 keeps piling up for FREE!
Oh, dear Higher Ed, I cannot believe I once thought you were only giving me “financial aid” (or should I say “burden”?) because you were going to take care of me to pay it back. I was such an entitled little fool. I remember my mother warning me about how the loans were too big and questioning how come they were offering me that much money. Of course, my parents had failed to teach me a lot of lessons about money by then, and I wasn’t about to take one from the people who had accustomed me to depend on them only to one day call me to say they could no longer pay all my bills for me – which in another story caused me to go into my first maxed-out credit card debt, fun. At the time in my life when the decision was to be made, these loans were going to allow me to a)move to the city of my Dreams: NYC, b)enroll in the ONLY master’s program I was ever interested in, and c) become fully independent from my parents. I firmly believe nobody could’ve talked me out of that moment except my future self, who is now financially fucked – even then I probably would’ve done it anyway because “lo cantado y lo bailado nadie me lo quita” (what I’ve sung and danced nobody can take away – Mexican proverb). Sorry, I didn’t intend to be so mean to myself.
You get the picture.
These days, November comes with an expected wave of unbearable pain, sleepless nights of stress and shame. Ironic enough, because my grace period for repayment was over on November 21st, and now my deadline to re-apply for my IDR is November 27th. Having to pay $0 monthly is beautiful all year round until I get to face the accrued interest on my loans, the new total balance on my debt, and just let it sit with me for the minutes-to-an-hour that it takes me to fill out my application. IT FUCKING HURTS.
And if I could scream it to the registrar or whomever at NYU, I would. Many times, I’ve thought about posting myself out there and just shed all the tears and yells I have for them. But I’m not trying to get arrested or labeled insane, so here I am, blogging about it instead as the very civilized person I am.
This year I’m trying not to procrastinate and let the process hurt more than it needs to. I received a “friendly reminder” from The Great Lakes today, and I’ve decided to schedule a date with myself and my loans on the coming Monday. I’m not jumping right on it because I am reflecting on the situation (hello, here we are), I have work to do tomorrow, and much needed resting to do this coming weekend. After all, I am glad I have prioritized self-care and living my best life despite the burden of my debt. By the time December rolls around, I will forget about it all once more. I only hope one day all my hard work will be reflected by me throwing cash Wolf-of-Wall-Street-style at my loan provider so I can forget about this nightmare all together and never shed a tear of debt ever again.