My parents didn’t pay for my college education. In fact, when I graduated high school, I had no plans to ever go to college. It wasn’t until I had been working in a factory for 3 years that I decided I wanted to go back to school. In order to pay for my living expenses I maxed out my student loans each semester. I never dreamed I would end up with over $50,000 in debt by the time I finished my 5th year of college. I knew that I had a 6 month window before my first payment would come due and I had no idea how I was going to manage a $600 payment on top of all my other bills. My major had been in Psychology and the job opportunities were slim to none.
I was 31 years old by the time I finished college and with no decent paying job in my foreseeable future, I decided to join the Navy. Yes, the United States Navy. I needed a big change at that point in my life and the Navy was offering a student loan repayment plan of up to $65,000. That meant that my student loans would virtually disappear if I enlisted in the military for 4 years. So in May 2006, 3 weeks after my final semester in college, I left for Navy boot camp.
There was a lot of paperwork involved in getting my student loans repaid but, as promised, the Navy lived up to their word. They made 3 rather large annual payments to my lender. After 4 years in the military I was left with only $16,000 in student loan debt. The Navy was required to send a portion of my loan repayments to the IRS because my loan repayments were considered taxable income. A little tidbit that my recruiter forgot to tell me. But I digress…
I believe the Navy is still offering this program to new enlistees. It is a wonderful opportunity for anyone under the age of 35 that is deeply in debt from student loans and doesn’t know how they’re ever going to be able to make those minimum payments.
So, after I left the military I was left with about $16,000 in student loans. I used Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball principal and was able to pay the remainder of my student loans off in 10 months. I squeezed every extra dollar out of my budget and used it towards paying off my debt. I stopped buying ‘wants’ and borrowing quick loans that hadn’t done a credit check and started really focusing on getting out of debt. It’s amazing how it’s not that difficult to come up with $2 every day for a soda but when it comes to paying bills most of us have more month at the end of the money. Focus. Prioritize. Student loan debt isn’t the end of the world if you aren’t afraid to challenge yourself and be creative. I joined the military to get out of debt. It was a unique experience and I was able to pay off some of my other debts during my 4 years in the Navy as well.
Just ask yourself; what lengths are you willing to go to get out of debt?