I had just gradated high school and I didn't know how the whole college acceptance process worked. The only reference I had for college advice was my older sister who had already gone through the process. She received many grants and scholarships due to her grades, and took out student loans for the balance. As It came to be my time, I followed the same path. I finished high school with a GPA around 3.4 and I participated in several extra curricular activities. My SATs were 900 for math and English combined. These stats weren't cream of the crop worthy, so I did not qualify for the full grants. I took out student loans for the balance because as the saying went, "That's how everyone does it", and "You'll pay it back when you're done". This mentality followed me for the entire course of my college career.
The school I went to offered free housing to Resident Assistants, so I became one at the beginning of my second year. Not only did I gain some professional experience, but I also took out less loans that year. Every year after that, I was no longer a Resident Assistant so I was at the mercy of taking out as much student loan in order to account for classes as well as for housing and food. Having part time jobs helped to cover for going out with friends and enjoying the college experience. By the time I walked across the stage, I was on the hook for over $50,000.
I now money to both Navient and Nelnet. My monthly payments are almost $800 and they're a hassle to pay, as it is for many other college grads. After feeling the stress of the student loans I took in as many educational personal finance content. Everything I've learned brings me to this point. My goal is to pay the loans off as fast as possible while growing professionally. If you find yourself in this same position, you are not alone.