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In 2013, when I was laid off from the small New Hampshire newspaper where I worked, I did what any other functional unemployed person would do: I decided I should move â€” to a city I couldnâ€™t afford, without any savings!
Weâ€™ve all heard that famous New York City motto â€” you know, â€œThe city so nice they named it twiceâ€ â€” but allow me to propose an updated version: They named it twice because everything here costs double.
Back when I first moved to New York, my thrilling life as a 28-year-old college-educated person in the modern era meant I also brought along tons of student debt.
â€œHow did I get here?â€ I pondered, while I attempted to sleep on a couch that wasnâ€™t mine.
Well, it all started when I decided I would go to college. Ah, yes â€” it started when I decided to educate myself.
How I ended up with debt
A few years after I graduated from high school, I was still living at home, paying rent to my parents and working third shift at a gas station in a rural Tennessee community.
I decided I wanted a change. I knew if I continued down this path, I would never be able to live the life I dreamed of.
Few in my family went to college and my high school didnâ€™t exactly push higher education. I remember my guidance counselor telling a friend of mine to just leave and get a factory job, because college would be too difficult. So, incredibly late in the game, I stumbled my way through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and received some money in the form of grants. My parents couldnâ€™t help me with tuition and couldnâ€™t even qualify for PLUS loans (federal loans for studentsâ€™ parents who meet certain criteria).
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With my limited knowledge, I took out my first student loan, based on an â€œestimateâ€ from the collegeâ€™s website.