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I Regret Taking Out $78,644 in Loans — Here’s How I’m Gaining Back Financial Control

Darren415 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Darren415 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

It can make sense to borrow money for college if the degree leads to a salary that justifies the expense. But the wager hasn’t paid off for millions of borrowers saddled with debt that can follow them into middle age or even retirement.

See: All of the States That Will Pay Off Your Student Loans
Student Loan Forgiveness: 10 Expenses To Cut From Your Budget When Payments Resume

Burdensome monthly payments can impede progress in every aspect of their financial lives as bank interest vacuums up income that could have gone to investments, savings and a more comfortable lifestyle.

But many borrowers have options they might not know about — and life-changing relief could be just a few clicks or a phone call away.

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GOBankingRates spoke with one graduate who regained control of his financial life despite enormous loans and a degree that still hasn’t paid off.

A Student Borrower Who Did Everything Right Gets Little Bang for His Buck

Anthony Armendariz is a Gen Zer who made all the right moves in high school. A member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, he supplemented his academic accomplishments with two years of volunteer work that reflected his commitment to animal welfare and social and environmental causes.

His efforts were sufficient for admission into Texas State University in 2015. He graduated with a B.A. in political science and government in 2019. He then re-enrolled in Texas State for graduate school that same year and graduated with a master of science degree in sustainability studies and sociology.

Read: Student Loan Pause Officially Ends in October — Are You Ready To Start Making Average $503 Payments Again?

A High Achiever Pays a High Price for Broken Promises

Armendariz had a stellar academic journey, but it led to significant regret and disappointment — and a whole lot of bills.

“I borrowed a total of $78,644 with an interest rate of 4.9% and graduated with a master’s degree in sustainability,” said Armendariz, who works as a project manager for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “My counselors told me that my master’s program would lead me to occupations that make on average $100,000 a year. So, it came to my surprise how difficult it was to even find employment after my graduation back in 2021, much less anything near that yearly salary range. This certainly made me feel a sense of regret.”

Pandemic Protections Offer Short-Lived Breathing Room

Armendariz graduated in the immediate wake of the pandemic. Relief legislation included a pause on student debt payments and the accrual of new interest. The policy was renewed several times and continued through this summer. For students like Armendariz, whose degree never paid for itself with a handsome salary, the pause offered relief that was as temporary as it was welcome.

“Because of the COVID payment freeze, luckily I haven’t been forced to make any payments,” Armendariz said. “But that hasn’t stopped the tremendous amount of stress and worry about what would happen once these payments resume. If I were to move forward with the typical 25-year balance-based repayment plan, I would pay $457.91 a month, and if it were the 10-year balance-based repayment method, or as many experts call it, ‘the eat Ramen method,’ then my payment would be $832.60 a month. Quite frankly, I can’t afford either of these payment plans with my current salary, and I had no idea what I was going to do.”

A Student Debt Repayment Firm Offers a Ray of Hope

Like millions of other student borrowers, Armendariz was staring down decades of debt that overshadowed a salary that never lived up to the price of his degree. But then, the clouds broke and a path to financial freedom emerged from close to home.

“Luckily, my sister told me about this company called Student Loan Tutor that specializes in student loan debt and repayment strategies,” Armendariz said. “Once I visited their website and heard about some of the success stories, I gave them a call.”

‘Absolutely Life-Changing’

Experts warn student borrowers to be leery of debt-relief companies that make big promises. Many charge hefty fees and deliver meager results. Others are outright scams.

But Student Loan Tutor appears to be the real deal. The company — which holds a 4.9-star rating on TrustPilot, the Better Business Bureau and Facebook — charges a flat fee to create custom repayment plans for high-debt borrowers. It handles all the paperwork and guarantees results, which typically include six-figure savings.

“They looked at all my loans and all the repayment plans and programs available for my current work and living situation and created a repayment strategy,” Armendariz said. “When calculating what I would pay over the life of my loan with principal and interest versus a proper repayment strategy that includes interest subsidies and loan forgiveness, I am able to save over $172,210 by following their strategy.”

Needless to say, Armendariz strongly recommends anyone with significant student debt takes the company up on the offer of a free consultation.

“The savings can be absolutely life-changing,” he said.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: I Regret Taking Out $78,644 in Loans — Here’s How I’m Gaining Back Financial Control