College graduates last year entered the workforce with $35,051 in student debt on average.
It is common to meet college graduates with over $75,000 in student loans, even $90,000. They will be paying on these loans for the next 30 years. Many of these students will be approaching 60 when they are debt free. But if their housing costs were reduced, and they made a decent living wage, perhaps they could afford to send extra payments every month to their student loans, thereby reducing the terms by years.
Employers could provide matching student loan debt payments to help employees quickly pay off their debts. Some employers are doing this nationally. Next year, the health insurer Aetna will start matching employees student loan payments, paying up to $2,000 annually with a $10,000 lifetime maximum.
If you have $30,000 in student debt, you could pay it all off in five years with aggressive payments of $579.98 per month (6% interest), according to a loan calculator at bankrate.com. Let’s say during that same five-year period, you automatically invest $420 per month into the Standard & Poors 500 Index every month through a brokerage account at Charles Schwab or TD Ameritrade. If you earn a 10% annual rate of return, you will have $33,214.60 in five years. This five-year plan requires $1,000 per month going into debt service and investments. You may have to work overtime or a second job. In five years, your debt is paid off and you have a substantial investment account. With that substantial savings, you could buy a house, start a family, open a business or go on an extended vacation.
Let's say you have $60,000 in student debt at 6% interest. If you sent $1,159.97 per month to the loan, you would pay it off in five years. To pay off the same loan in 10 years, you would have to pay $666.12 every month. To pay off $60,000 at 6% interest over 30 years, the payment is $359.73. Most people fear they cannot afford to make a payment of $1,159.97 per month, but if you could find a way, you could cut your loan's term from 30 years to five.
It is cheaper to live in Topeka than many other places around the world. If Topeka can market itself as better living for less expense, many people would consider staying here or moving to Topeka from another community. Topeka has to market itself as a dynamic place to live and work, with affordable housing and support for cycling, organic foods, craft beer, music, entertainment and the arts.
Don’t be a slave to a student loan for the rest of your life. Instead, work hard, live cheap, and use discretionary income to pay down debt quickly and save money. You will get ahead faster in life without debt. With no debt, your world gets larger because you can afford to do more than just slave away for the bankers.