I need help consolidating my student loans

I would dream up all sorts of get-rich-quick schemes.

I’d win the lottery or write the next blockbuster YA novel.

When I began taking out student loans for university, I had a fool-proof five-year plan for paying them off. Although being a server in New York City can be wildly lucrative at the right establishments, I was working at the kind of restaurant where breaking 0 during a weekend shift was considered good money, and a “raise” meant helping ourselves to as much beer as we could handle without getting caught by the manager.

I was going to go to graduate school, become an elementary school teacher, work in a high-needs public school for five years, and have the rest of my federal debt forgiven. If I stuck with the plan, I didn’t need to worry about those loans at all. We cannot reduce, amend or discontinue the deduction without written authorization from the U. Between paying for both my rent and living expenses, and saving a little bit of cash for going out, it felt like I had nothing left over for my student loan payments.

Before I had a chance to change my mind, I called up the first collection agency on the list. I explained why I was calling to the operator, who passed me on to the correct department.

I was also broke and about ,000 in debt to the U. So, while I tried to figure out what career I wanted to pursue, I went back to serving to pay the rent.

I had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise — I had some vague idea of doing something in book publishing — but other than that, I was at a loss. I funded all of my college and graduate school living expenses on my own by waiting tables.

I didn’t even have the money to start paying 0 a month, so what was the point? Continuing on in default seemed like the only option for me. I started screening my incoming calls and would only answer when I knew who the caller was. I started working at a better restaurant and even with a 25 percent increase in the tips I made, I didn’t view the extra money I earned as money that could go towards paying off my student loans.

For the first time in my adult life, I felt more or less financially comfortable, and I wasn’t willing to go back to scrimping and saving.

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