I’ve already paid off my student loans and I’m okay with a student loan bailout
As many people in the student loan field know from experience, there is currently a pause in federal student loan payments, and many policymakers are discussing some sort of student loan bailout to provide relief to borrowers. A student loan bailout would have a significant impact on many lawyers and law students, as students often need to borrow incredible amounts of money to fund their legal education. As noted in previous posts on this website and on my own personal blog, I paid off all of my $197,282.90 in college and law school student loans in 46 months. To do this, I had to work multiple part-time jobs, implement tough savings policies, and make other sacrifices. People often ask me, due to the fact that I worked so hard to pay off my student loans fairly quickly, how I would feel if there was a partial or full bailout of student loans. To the surprise of many, I say that I really wouldn’t mind such a bailout, and people who have paid off their student loans shouldn’t be upset if a student loan bailout is passed.
Let me say up front that I am not a politician and do not have enough information to know whether a student loan bailout would be good public policy. There is evidence to suggest that such a bailout could benefit high-income people who have the resources to attend college and graduate school, and will have better-paying jobs with less student debt if a bailout is passed. Moreover, a student loan bailout would cost incredible sums, which could total hundreds of billions or more than a trillion dollars, depending on the size of the bailout. All of these considerations should be carefully considered before a student loan bailout is enacted, and since I like to stay in my lane, I’m not going to say whether a student loan bailout is good or bad policy.
However, if a bailout passes, I would have no feelings of regret over the sacrifice I made to pay off my student loans or bitterness towards those receiving debt forgiveness. Repaying student loans was a source of great pride for me. I wanted to show that I had the drive and resolve to achieve this financial goal and ultimately achieving this goal gave me a sense of satisfaction. A student loan bailout would not take that realization away from me, or anyone else who has paid off their student debt. This intangible feeling cannot be underestimated, and it is not influenced by whether or not individuals face the same student debt burdens as you.
On another level, student loans aren’t really a part of my life, so the topic of a student loan bailout doesn’t have much practical impact on me and probably many others who have paid off their debt . I paid off my student loans in 2016, so I’ve been debt free for almost six years. During this time, I have enjoyed the liberation of not having to pay student loans every month, and student loans have long since ceased to be a part of my life. Under these circumstances, it’s hard to get too upset about student loan politics and a possible student loan bailout since the topic of student debt is less raw in my mind.
That might be a little optimistic, but people who have paid off student loans might also be exactly the type of people who understand the burden of student loans and how others hopefully shouldn’t have to bear those burdens. Student debt was a very difficult challenge for me. I thought about my student loans every day, and it felt like every day was less pleasant knowing that I had student loans that were constantly paying interest. Also, I had to skip important family events, get-togethers with friends, and other important life occasions to work part-time and save money to pay off my student loans as soon as I did. .
If future generations of student borrowers need not have similar burdens, that makes me happy, not bitter. The negative resentment of student borrowers who take the “I had to deal with student loans and you should do the same” approach is truly ugly, and does not show the compassion these people should have for the burden of student loans. People with student loans can connect with the pain and financial problems caused by student loans, and they should be more empathetic towards people who will benefit from a student loan bailout.
All in all, even though I paid off my student loans at great expense and a student loan bailout would have been a big help to me, I’m fine with current student borrowers getting some kind of of bailout. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to repay student loans, and I would support a bailout of student loans if policymakers enact some kind of broad-based student debt relief in the future.
Jordan Rothman is a partner at The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service law firm in New York and New Jersey. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website detailing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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