English Teacher Drowning in Loans

Casey has $175,000 in private and federal student loans. She is a high school English teacher, and she is in way over her head with these loans. She makes $38,500 a year. Dave has some tough love for Casey.

QUESTION: Casey in Orlando graduated from the University of Michigan. She has $175,000 in private and federal student loans. She is a high school English teacher, and she is in way over her head with these loans. She makes $38,500 a year. Dave has some tough love for Casey.

ANSWER: Not to beat up on you, but I think it’s going to be a really good exercise in wisdom for you to admit this was a dumb idea regardless of whether it was your passion. You did not get a bargain. This is not good for your life. Had you to do it over, you would not do it this way. Please tell me that. Period! It doesn’t cost $175,000 to meet the love of your life. eHarmony doesn’t cost that much. You could go to school and meet the love of your life and not go $175,000 in debt to play water polo. So we cannot in any way rationalize this or justify this. That’s not to beat you up, but it does help you to go forward. You need to learn the lessons.

I think at some point you’re going to combine your household incomes and be able to attack this, but it’s going to be a long road until you get your incomes up because $38,000 versus $175,000—if you do $10,000 a year, that’s 17 years. If you do $20,000 a year, that’s literally living on beans and rice. I’m okay with that, but that’s still an eight- or nine-year process. So you and he—if he is the love of your life and your future—are going to have to develop a game plan to get your incomes way up to attack this mess.

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