Politics, Religion, Money…& Student Loans?

Student Loans Are Too Important to Keep Your Lips Sealed

When’s the last time you talked to a friend about student loans? Conventional wisdom used to tell us that there were three topics to avoid in polite conversation: politics, religion, and money. By that so-called wisdom, student loans are off limits, right? But what if you could share something with a friend that could open new doors for them or ease their anxieties? Avoiding sensitive or problematic conversations doesn’t make the problems go away, they just get shut in the dark, out of the light that could offer new perspectives, solutions, and understanding; avoided conversations are missed opportunities. 

Sharing Your Hard-Earned Student Loan Wisdom

“If you see something, say something”: don’t miss an opportunity to help a friend with their student loan questions. A colleague recently shared a story with me in which he regretted missing a chance to counsel a friend:

A friend was visiting, a friend from back when we were finishing our doctorates. We both landed great jobs in the south-central U.S., but not close enough that we see each other more than every couple of years. She was at one of the more prestigious southern schools with a famous football program. Well on the way in her dream career, she had just earned a big promotion for 2023 that included a significant salary bump. 

She asked for my advice: what should she do with that extra income first? Should she buy a townhouse and get rid of her apartment, or should she ditch the beat up car she’d been driving since college and get something nicer? She added that, of course, she’d have to wait a couple of years anyway, since she was still putting every spare penny she had toward paying off her student loans. Since we were close to the airport, not wanting to draw the conversation on too long with an additional topic, I answered her original question and said nothing about her comment on student loans.

Afterward, I was embarrassed and annoyed with myself: after years of dealing with hundreds of thousands in my own student loans, I had a lot that I could have said! If I had been thinking, I would have looked her straight in the eye and asked, “don’t you know that those loans could be forgiven?” As a university employee, my friend is the target demographic for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. She asked for my advice about money, but I didn’t comment on her student loans because I felt uneasy about commenting on her finances even when she could save thousands of dollars. 

I told my colleague that he should give her a call and tell her that he had some more thoughts about her question. He did, and she was thrilled to hear it! Like so many, she had heard about Biden’s proposal to forgive $10-20k in federal student loans, but didn’t know much at all about PSLF. She always assumed it was either something that she wouldn’t qualify for, or was just plain fictitious. 

Talk to your friends about student debt. There are millions of Americans quietly suffering under the burden of bloated student loan payments without the knowledge or support they need to get out from under them. Bit by bit, we can all help each other, and build a future where neighbors can achieve their dreams without the onus of excessive debt.

If you’re pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness and you haven’t met with us yet, schedule your free 15-minute Discovery Session to find out if you qualify for PSLF, or what you can do if you don’t.