BUFFALO, NY — More than 43 million Americans are preparing to pay off student loans after a three-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the average federal student loan borrower owes $37,717, Rebecca Ward owes $50,000. It is a story after paying back about 1 million yen.
“I am ashamed to say that I am really financially dependent on my family. I am not financially independent,” said Ward, who will soon be 40.
She works as an event planner for a nonprofit, but makes less money than a lifeguard in the city of Buffalo. And her payments are expected to resume in September, and she plans to pay about $400 a month.
“There’s not much you can do other than fall in love and follow your path,” she admitted.
Cambridge Credit Counseling Director of Education Martin Lynch said student debt was to be expected, especially for students entering professional careers. Where this generation differs from others is that they are facing difficulties in other areas of their budgets.
“That’s why I get so frustrated when I see comments on student loan articles that say, ‘I paid off my loans 20 years ago.’ It was cheaper back then, so did I,” Lynch said. “And the numbers are quite different these days. College cost-effectiveness hasn’t changed. It’s not the students’ fault.”
Lynch encourages anyone who qualifies for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan to apply. Free counseling is available at places such as Cambridge Credit Counseling and Parachute Credit Counseling if you have questions about how you can afford future payments.