I'm pretty sure I always figured I would go to college. Even when I was a kid, I just thought it would be the next step after high school. So when the guidance counselors in high school would start talking about choosing a college, I thought it was pretty much a no-brainer. Since I already planned to continue my education after the public school system was done with me, I didn't really pay much attention when they started quoting statistics about how much more a college grad would make in his or her lifetime than someone who just stopped after high school. But I remember it being a significant amount of money. It was significant enough to convince some of the kids in my class to go ahead and give it the old college try. I think I'm still waiting for that significant difference in income to kick in.
I really couldn't afford college. So I went the same route that so many young people go in this great country of ours. I applied for student loans. And I received a generous amount of money that I would eventually need to pay back. For a period of time, back when I was working a decently paying job and living in Roanoke, I was, in fact, making regular payments on those student loans. And then I decided to go to seminary. The magic word there was deferment. Deferment is a wonderful thing that says you don't have to make those payments because you're still a student.
I'm not a student anymore. And yesterday I discovered that my good friends, the Lenders, are expecting me to pay back those loans. I discovered this by chance, because I happened to go back into a currently unused e-mail account and happened to see that they had sent a notice letting me know that my payment is due. Not only that, they've been sending notices for about two months. So, do the math. That means I'm two months behind on making payments that I can't afford in the first place.
I did go to the website and, first of all, changed my e-mail address. Now their notices will come to the e-mail address that I actually look at on a regular basis. Next, I took a look at how much I owe in total. That total would be a shock to the system had I not over-estimated what I owed several years ago. Still, $41,000 is a significant amount of money. If you're keeping up with my personal and professional life, that's more money than I'll make in the next 2 years. Before taxes.
So I found another magic word on their website: forbearance. I applied for this forbearance. There's no guarantee that forbearance will be granted, but I think I have a pretty good chance of getting it. See, I still work two jobs and just barely make ends meet. So adding a regular $250 payment each month to my already tight budget will be an impossible thing.
I won't hear back about the forbearance for a few days. In the meantime, I'm thinking of my options, just in case they decide I'm not worthy of this forbearance...
I could rob a bank. I work for a bank. I think I'm pretty decent when it comes to strategy. Maybe it's a feasible option.
I could start selling drugs. I hear that dealers can make a killing in that career path. Though they could also get killed in the process.
I could fake my death and collect the insurance money. Though, if I faked my death, I guess I would really need that money, 'cause the lenders wouldn't be coming after me anymore. I'd be "dead."
I'm looking at these and thinking that forbearance is my best option for the time being. You know, other than finding a new job that pays more than what I make now. Maybe some place that likes to at least pretend that having a bachelor's degree counts for something.