The joy of repaying student loans

I begin repaying my student loan this month. Oh joy! This is one college right-of-passage I would be happy to avoid.

I’m in the same boat as a lot of other college students. To keep my boat afloat back in 2015, I filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and was deemed eligible for a federally subsidized loan at 4.66% interest. Now it’s payback time.

NWTC is really affordable as far as colleges go, but college is still expensive. Student loans are a reality of life for a lot of us. Of the 1,127 graduates in the Class of 2017, 41% of us took out a student loan, according to stats pulled together by Emily Ysebaert, NWTC’s director of financial aid. We owe an average of $14,789. That’s a lot of money! Graduates of four-year colleges in Wisconsin owe even more -- $30,000 on average.

I received email reminders for several weeks telling me that my grace period was ending. It was time for me to get a grip on how much I owed and decide how to pay it back. 

Ignoring these emails is the worst thing you can do, according to Faith Laatsch, a financial coach at NWTC. Faith is an NWTC graduate who is paying back her own student loans. Plus, she helps hundreds of students with financial aid issues every school year.

Grads need to know how much they owe, who they owe, and what repayment option will work for them, she said. Even if you can’t repay your loan now, you have options. Your best bet is to talk to someone like Faith at NWTC or visit the website

When I logged into the account, it was easy to find the “Make a payment” button and just as easy to find the “I can’t afford this payment” button.  The second button took me to a bunch of different options. The website was even kind enough to remember my username and password.

I felt like I was paying back a favorite uncle who was willing to cut me some slack if I couldn’t pay back everything upfront. In my case, this favorite uncle was Uncle Sam, and we’re still on good terms because I made my payment on time. It wasn’t a time of joy, but I did gain satisfaction knowing I was making good on a promise I made in 2015.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Koehne, of Abrams, is a 2017 graduate of NWTC. A former newspaper editor, she co-owns Writer to the Rescue, the content writing division of Packerland Websites.