Home News Student Loan Debt Strategies Evoke Both Pride and Pain

Student Loan Debt Strategies Evoke Both Pride and Pain

Many ODs responded to the WO Pop-up Poll on student loan debt. You can read the poll results here.

student loan debt featuredHere are some of the individual responses that ODs shared. These responses are often passionate and reflect both individual’s pain from those who feel like advice or circumstances have resulted in even larger debts and the pride of those who doubled down to pay off debts. The goal here is not to engage in political debate but to see how deeply felt the feelings are, across the board.

“I am grateful for the zero percent interest rate throughout the pandemic; due to this unexpected change, I have been able to get a grasp and take back control over my student loans whereas before I felt like I was drowning in interest. I am more than willing to pay what I owe without any “=’forgiveness’ if the interest rates would stop robbing me of a debt-free future!”

“I think the interest rates and the capitalization process need definite reform. My loan balance is higher right now than when I graduated even with the last few years of relief, even $10,000 debt relief would not get rid of all of my interest alone.”

“I understood that I would be graduating with a lot of debt as I put myself through undergrad and optometry school. I am working at saving as much as I can to hopefully pay down the debt faster, but it does prevent me from starting my family and moving into our forever home. I think a lot of people think that all doctors make a ton of money, and that’s just not true. I’m very fortunate to work two part-time positions and fill in on some Saturday’s at a third practice, but working six long days a week absolutely adds to burnout and stress. It’s a shame that our education costs so much because I am extremely passionate about what I do, and my love for my career and patients allows me to be okay with the debt but honestly if I could do it again – I’m not sure that I would make the same choice. And that’s what breaks my heart.”

“It’s very difficult to even live alone and pay rent. My loan payments are more than my rent payments. I’m spending so much money on student loan payments, I may never be able to have children and start a family.”

“I am hopeful that with the continuing amendments to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, more of us will be granted relief soon.”

“It’s a huge burden. I have to postpone family, first house and potentially better (in the long-run) job opportunities due to the burden.”

“I wish I would have stayed with the 10-year student loan payment plan rather than switching to an income-contingent based plan. It would have been financially tight for 10 years. By paying less in the beginning, I more than doubled my loan amount and the pay-off time. This was a hard lesson learned. Pay off your loans ASAP and take as little amount of student loan as you can when in school.”

“Even a lower interest rate would be beneficial! I’m at 6.5% right now.”

“I’m taking advantage of the government deferring the loans and looking around for a company to refinance my loans.”

“I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve interviewed for that the income offered was not even enough to cover my monthly student loan payment. Many, many private practice doctors have no idea how much school costs have increased.”

“These loans have kept me from affording a home, starting a family, buying a car, or buying a practice. While in school, I did my best to keep living expenses low, and I thought I had found an affordable program that would enable me to graduate with minimal debt. Each time I had to take a new loan out, the financial aid officers would say, ‘Don’t worry about it. Once you are an optometrist you will be able to pay it off easily.’ Unfortunately, the Great Recession hit in the middle of my studies and costs started spiraling. The interest continued accruing and I have been trying to dig myself out of it ever since.”

“I made mistakes on my student loans like not paying interest while I was in optometry school. I requested forbearance when we lost our house during the recession and didn’t start repaying again for at least a year. I also had to ask for forbearance during COVID. Again, I didn’t pay interest both times. I haven’t refinanced. Now I feel like I’ll be paying my student loans until I die. HELP!”

“My student loan will go with me to the grave unless it is forgiven. It is a nightmare quite frankly. I can’t even touch the principle as it is in negative amortization.”

“I would be in favor of the government forgiving all student loan debt or at the very least keeping the interest at 0%.”

“Student loan debt was an investment in my future. I paid all of my debt without assistance.”

“I worked a few years prior to optometry school, and I also worked part-time during optometry school. It was extremely tight and exhausting. Despite the many sacrifices, I am glad that I was able to get my degree this way.”

“I deferred my loan for three year while in the Navy, and with my wife making 35k as a teacher and me making 40k in the Navy, we pain off my 38K debt in 18 months by dropping our cable TV, eating beans and rice and cereal and not traveling. It did not kill us, and self control, self discipline and a desire to be debt-free served me well as an OD, a husband and now a dad. Why are today’s students entitled to have student debt forgiveness and not make the sacrifice to pay what they owe? What will they do in practice with their business loans? With their house loans? With a commercial building loan? They will go to private equity and private practice optometry will cease to exist because the OD of today does not possess the character trait of personal responsibility.”

“Never going to get ahead.”

“The only reason I was able to pay off my student loan was because I sold a business piece of real estate and took the proceeds to pay off my debt. Otherwise I would still have my debt for a few more years.”

“Loans should not start collecting interest until graduation. There is no way to work to pay that interest and go to school full time.”

“Optometric school debt is one of the best investments I’ve made in my life. My choice to have debt to make an amazing life and living.”

I had to leave my practice of 14 years due to issues related to COVID-19. I have religiously made student loan payments for approximately 20 years. I’ve relocated my practice but with dramatically lower income, and I have still managed to make my mortgage; $3,500, liability/malpractice insurance, my self-employed health insurance~1,000/mo, payroll $2,355/mo, Student loan payments of $750/mo. I drive 45min each way with skyrocketing gas prices….and I’m drowning!”

“Relief of part or all of my student loan payments would be life-changing and would serve as a lifeline to those of us still in the workforce attempting to navigate these trying times.”

“While interviewing at various optometry schools, every financial aid presentation would say the exact same line: “Tuition and fees for your four-year optometry degree will be (X number of dollars), but don’t worry; once you are an optometrist you will easily be able to pay off any loans you take out.” Even while in school, as the costs of tuition and fees increased, the financial aid officers would repeat that same statement as if it justified the excessive cost. I was naïve and trusted them.”

“The country was still reeling from the Great Recession when I graduated, so jobs were scarce. I made the mistake of contacting my loan servicers, trusting they had my best interests in mind. Even though I now know I would have qualified for income-based repayment plans at the time, my loan servicers put my loans into forbearance. The unpaid interest accumulated, capitalized and started a chain reaction that I have been trying to dig myself out of ever since.”

Despite my wife and I graduating from optometry school with a combined 400K in student loan debt, we still were able to buy a house, acquire a private practice (1 month before the pandemic started) and we are about to start a family. It is a lot of work but with the right mind set and work ethic, it is possible to do it.”

“The debt-to-salary ratio has tilted in a terrible direction for optometry.”

“My student loan debt was necessary for me to obtain my degree in optometry. Although I have no regrets it is very difficult because nobody ever truly explained what this debt would do in the real world after graduation. As a student, you have a vague idea of what debt means, but it’s nearly impossible to understanding how that will feel from a day-to-day perspective. It is quite literally a financial shackle that stunts future growth, possibilities and well-being for young ODs. When I look at how much I will have to pay over the next decade, it’s very discouraging knowing that I will lose out on life-changing experiences and opportunities in order to pay for the desire to learn and heighten my education. Thankfully I am able to afford my student loan payments, but it doesn’t really make sense for four years of my life to dictate every move I make over the next 20 years.”

“If you agreed to take out the loan, you should agree to pay it back PERIOD. No one forced you to take it.”

“My loan debt was a mortgage when I graduated in 2003. My starting pay (and current pay) was not sufficient enough to pay off my loan in the typical 10 years. I consolidated my student loans into a 30-year loan where my payment is $679/mo. Only by doing this was I able to buy into a private practice, buy a home and afford a decent lifestyle. Without consolidating and extending my loans, I would be living paycheck to paycheck.”

“We all signed lending agreements that loans are to be repaid. If the government has foresight of forgiving part/all loans, then the financial aid should have come in the form of grants. If many students have to take out loans to pay for their education due to rising costs, then the government can intervene to reduce tuition at the institutions. These students who have been accepted to these programs have worked hard to reach their educational goals and are well-qualified to enroll in the program. Is that merit enough for the government to advocate for these students to reduce their educational loan debt? My loan debt when I graduated was a significant at the time, and I’ve had to work to repay them. Would it be fair that none of my loans that have been repaid forgiven? If student loans are expected to be forgiven moving forward, then what is the value of our education? How do future generations expect to save for a home, children’s education, family medical insurance and other life necessities when the cost of living continues to rise.”

“I worked hard to pay off all of my student loans. Luckily I have an income that allows me to do so. I did sacrifice buying things I ‘wanted’ to pay off the loan early. If student loan debt gets automatically ‘forgiven,’ I was an idiot.”

“Where does the money come from to ‘forgive’ the loans? That money has been paid to the school. It will come out of someone’s pocket. It should be the responsibility of the one that signed the dotted line that they would be responsible for the debt.”


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