I was going to go to graduate school, become an elementary school teacher, work in a high-needs public school for five years, and have the rest of my federal debt forgiven. If I stuck with the plan, I didn’t need to worry about those loans at all. We cannot reduce, amend or discontinue the deduction without written authorization from the U. Between paying for both my rent and living expenses, and saving a little bit of cash for going out, it felt like I had nothing left over for my student loan payments.Of course, life didn’t go as smoothly as I had envisioned as an 18-year-old. Fortunately, I had a six-month grace period before I had to start repaying my loans after graduating and I was confident something would turn up.

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We all have our reasons for being in this situation. After graduation, I spent a few years teaching English abroad and paid my student loans every month without fail.

My income came entirely from the tips I made waiting tables.

For the first time in my adult life, I felt more or less financially comfortable, and I wasn’t willing to go back to scrimping and saving.

No more instant ramen dinners, Forever 21 jeans and boxed hair dye for me. I used my newfound wealth to go on a long-deferred vacation, to buy a new mattress, to try that amazing restaurant I couldn’t afford to visit before.

I’d win the lottery or write the next blockbuster YA novel.

I looked into becoming a dominatrix at foot fetish parties.

This became glaringly apparent 10 years later, when I received an email from the HR department at my company: We are commanded to immediately remit 15% of your disposable pay to the U. But six months later, the only career-related job I’d found was an unpaid internship at a small literary agency.

I was also broke and about ,000 in debt to the U. So, while I tried to figure out what career I wanted to pursue, I went back to serving to pay the rent.

The money first goes to pay collection costs and fees, and then when that has been paid off, towards the principal balance and interest.