You may have noticed a recent trend of stories about student loans depicting young adults, around 30 or younger, paying off large sums of student debt — usually $100,000 or more. These sorts of articles are meant to inspire borrowers to take their destiny into their own hands and say, “If they can do it, so can I.”
While those stories can inspire borrowers to get a grip on their student loans, they also require a closer look to see how such impressive loan repayment happened. Take the story of Ebony Horton, a 31-year-old who paid off $220,000 in three years.
After Horton got her MBA, she worked an entry level job making just under $40,000 a year in Washington D.C.—not too different from the student loan stories more commonly told over cheap drinks. The major difference becomes apparent when Horton moved back to Illinois to be with her family and to avoid the high cost of living in D.C. There she took advantage of some privileges she was lucky enough to be afforded.
Horton’s mother was able to get her an Operations Manager job at the nonprofit she ran. After the move back to Illinois, Horton and her boyfriend got married, and Horton’s mother gave the couple a condo as a wedding gift. After three months, the couple decided to move in with Horton’s grandparents and rent the condo out.
Because the condo was a gift, the couple saw good profits from renting it out and decided to expand. The couple bought a two-unit condo to rent out. It was a success. They decided to expand once more and bought another unit.
Horton and her husband had to move once her grandparents decided to move south, so they moved in with Horton’s parents. The couple — now paying no rent but collecting on three properties — were putting all their money toward student loans and were making $10,000 payments every month. Once she paid off all her loans she decided to continue to buy and rent out property.
While this is an inspiring story of determination in the face of a formidable goal — a legitimate lesson to take from this — the same technique for paying off student loans isn’t applicable to many student loan borrowers. Living situations are often more complicated, without the option to live rent-free with family; well-paying jobs are often hard to come by, especially jobs that utilize the hard-earned degree; and gifts are often not so generous or profitable. Student loans are often necessary and therefore welcome, but they are difficult to pay off without some kind of support.
If you need help making a plan because you’ve tried it all, reach out for help. There are people experienced and specialized in student loans willing to help and inspire borrowers in their own way.
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