Forums General GENERAL Who has student loan debt? How has it impacted your life and travels?

Who has student loan debt? How has it impacted your life and travels?

I’m working on an article about the importance of federally-funded education and how it may be under threat in the coming years. I’d love to include some input from Matador contributors and readers.

If you have federal student loan debt, tell me in 2 to 3 sentences how it has affected your life and your travels.

I might include your response in my article. Thanks!

View Profile 2017-02-02 12:11:07 PST

I have an outstanding student loan, but because I live and work in Argentina I am not earning any taxable income. If you go to, you are able to adjust your monthly payment plan based on how much income you earn. Since technically my income is “zero”,  my monthly bill is $0.00. It works out nicely as long as I stay abroad.

View Profile 2017-02-03 05:04:27 PST

I have a whopping student loan that gets taken out of my monthly pay check. I don’t notice it because it’s taken automatically, but when I look at the numbers when I do my tax at the end of the year it’s a bit of a shock. I suppose if I wasn’t paying it per month I’d have more disposable income to travel, but I seem to be able to get along fine seeing the world still. My biggest issue is that there aren’t enough annual leave days in a year!

View Profile 2017-02-05 19:12:47 PST

Most of my discretionary income goes to paying down my student loans. It’s amazing to think how much I could travel, or what things I could splurge on (fancy camera, etc) if I weren’t paying down my debt.

View Profile 2017-02-07 06:58:29 PST

My Federal student loan debt is somewhat small- in the low, low 5 digits- and does not effect me travelling much. They have also been very flexible in how much I need to pay every month, based on my income.

View Profile 2017-02-07 12:21:42 PST

I have a student loan for the UK and it doesn’t affect me at all. I am not earning any taxable income in the UK so they can’t take any payments until I return and pay tax in the UK.

View Profile 2017-02-07 13:02:46 PST

These are helpful responses. How do you all feel about student loan debt when you think about current politics? Do you believe higher education should be free?

View Profile 2017-02-07 13:18:08 PST

I think there should be more transparency between colleges families and teens (esp although non traditional students too) regarding costs. Families don’t discuss how much they can contribute then students pay the price by taking out loans for the cost of college when in reality a job that allows them to pay it back is not guaranteed. Not to mention there is NO financial literacy education…

View Profile 2017-02-07 13:49:51 PST

I have sizable student loans, but I’ve resigned myself to having debt for a few decades, and have done the Income Based Repayment plan. It’s made the debt manageable, and I can still travel and do most of what I want — it just means I won’t be done for 25 years instead of 10. My wife has an even better deal. Since she works in the public sector, her loans will be forgiven after 10 years. So we manage. I can’t imagine paying monthly in full.

View Profile 2017-02-07 13:50:14 PST

I am a young student getting my Associates Degree and actually have a concern of going to get my Bachelors Degree if it means getting into $70,000 in debt in order to become a farmer and photographer. Thus, maybe my opinion of young students struggling between deciding to get a degree and get in debt or risk having a lesser degree but not taking on debt .

View Profile 2017-02-07 18:24:22 PST

I have student loans well into six figures, thanks to two graduate degree. I work with each loan company closely to keep my payments affordable based on my income, but also to try and keep the interest and principle under control.

When it comes to travel, I will admit I usually prioritize travel over making an additional loan payment. My contract with the loan companies states a certain duration, so I’m not failing on my agreement with them by spending that extra $500 (or however much) on a ticket to somewhere great. Also, I’m young and want to enjoy it, and believe that I do better work (and earn more as a digital nomad) when I take some time to keep my mental health and happiness as a priority.

View Profile 2017-02-08 16:06:25 PST

Thought i’d include the opposite just in case. In Canada university is reasonable. I think my uni was roughly 5k a year. Every summer I saved up to travel, and I still left school with no debts. Because of this I was able to take risks on my career and future, such as freelancing, which I thought was just a hoop dream. If I had had debt, with my personality, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere without paying it off. I know people do it – and I honestly have great admiration for that. I’m in my thirties now and still debt free, unless you count a mortgage.

View Profile 2017-02-09 14:38:24 PST

Kate, my reaction is more like yours– As a recent graduate, I have a sizable amount of debt which I’m able to manage thanks to my full-time job. However, every plane ticket I purchase means it’ll take me that much longer to pay off my debt, and I know the interest rates have already added thousands. If I didn’t have student loans to pay off, I would feel much more free to travel as much as I wish I could and take risks to pursue what I really love. As it stands, I know I’m lucky to have the job I do so that I can eventually pay off my loans and enjoy more of that freedom. In the meantime, however, my student loans are a source of stress in my life and something that holds me back. I can’t imagine how those with even more debt than me manage it, which is why federal financial aid is so important. Without it, a majority of students couldn’t earn their educations, let alone use them to actively pursue their goals.

View Profile 2017-02-09 15:09:56 PST

I’m 40 and student loan debt persists in my life.  Fifteen years ago, I accumulated a significant amount of student loan debt from my college, masters and law degrees.  I have traveled intermittently throughout the past 15 years despite the debt.  Did the student loan get in the way of traveling?  It could have and it can still.  But I made the choice not to let it stop me from pursuing what adds joy to my life.  It is a burden, yes.  But it is up to us to make a conscious choice to overcome our limiting beliefs including debts.  I’d confess to the fact that I would have preferred to have minimized the debt if I could go back in time.  My advise to my younger self would be “avoid student loan debt at all costs.”  Financial aid in a non-debt form is critical in light of the high cost of education here in America.  To enter into a contract entailing years of repayment is not something to take lightly.  It can be, though not always, a deterrent later on in life.

View Profile 2017-02-10 15:09:56 PST

I have one student loan I took out to help me study abroad since I would have to stop working for a semester to do so. I don’t regret it because it allowed me to travel and experience the world as I never would have been able to as a small-town Midwestern girl. Now I’m still paying it off. It’s manageable, luckily my debt and monthly payments aren’t astronomical, but it does make me feel limited in what I can do and how much I can travel. I can only afford maybe one trip abroad a year or so. I want to move abroad again and work or volunteer but I can’t do that without some financial security, so that is disheartening.

View Profile 2017-02-14 10:11:31 PST