I'm a student at Drexel University. Drexel is a notoriously expensive school, and I pay roughly $35,000/yr in tuition, after awards. What's more, it is a five-year school. Currently, I'm in my fourth year. Throughout the year, I work full time six months, then go to classes for six months. Currently, I am making $28/hr, and I work until March, after which I will be attending classes full time until the following summer (2020). By this March, when I go back to classes, I'm projecting to have saved approximately $11.2k that will go towards housing, food, and tuition for the 5 upcoming terms (quarter terms).
As of today, I have 9 students loans:
- American Education Services, $29,652.52 (9.3%)
- Sallie Mae, $29,063.18 (9.3%)
- Sallie Mae, $24,062.80 (9.875%)
- Gov't Subsidized Loans (3) totaling $11,750
- Gov't Unsubsidized Loans (3) totaling $5,348
The total is a terrifying $94,286.35. What's more, is I have five terms left, as previously stated, each of which will be $7,979 in tuition. As well, I have rent to pay, which will be $517/mo until September when my lease ends. After that is still open-ended housing-wise.
Given the above, in order to pay for the rest of my schooling, I will need to take another $40,000 in loans, and I'm expecting to find work during classes to pay for living expenses etc. This brings my total debt to a staggering $134,181.35.
Needless to say, I'm nervous. However I have two things going for me:
- I have not yet graduated, have realized the issue, and have over a year to prepare for a payment plan
- I'm an electrical engineering major, specializing in analog, RF, and microwave design, which is a field in need of talent, and one which I already have several years of experience with. It's not unreasonable to expect a yearly income >$70,000 starting salary (my co-op job now pays about $60,000/yr before taxes).
I live fairly frugally. I'm 22 years old. I recently started using a credit card to build better credit, and always pay my balance in full. I spend approximately $750/mo in variable expenses (that is, in addition to my fixed spending like car insurance, rent, and car payments). Of the $750/mo, $370/mo is food, about $100/mo is utilities. I pay for my own health insurance ($2200/yr), and receive little to no assistance from family except for when a family member helped me buy a used car for my commute after my previous car was totaled (crushed by a tree, would you believe it). I go to the dentist every 6mo and typically pay the bill in full, about $700. I wear contacts, about $150/3mo. In all, even my current lifestyle requires ~$1,800/mo, in addition to those less frequent payments.
Depending on my work location and commuting options, I don't expect to pay more than $900/mo for rent. If I can, I typically go with the absolute cheapest apartment, or share e.g. a single bedroom and split the rent (my current situation). I've considered living out of my car, with a gym membership, or living at home.
With such an immense amount of debt, I do not know how to prepare for after my education ends. This is all not to mention my desire for graduate education, specifically I am interested in research and getting my PhD, which of course doesn't fit with the financial narrative above. I hope this is not too open ended, I know that questions should be answerable. But what should I be expecting? How much trouble am I in? And perhaps central to my post:
What advice or resources would you recommend for handling finances like these going forwards?
I also hope that the question finds enough generality to be useful to others besides me, as I can't be the only one who is in such a situation.