Education stories in the News

Three students detail their experiences paying for – and earning – a college degree.

Woman sitting at desk looking at notebookThe national narrative about student loans is daunting – and rightfully so.

Overall student debt is more than a trillion dollars. Borrowers delay major life decisions because of the amounts they owe. And the Student Loan Ranger receives countless emails about loan forgiveness – which isn't quite the life preserver those in over their heads hope it is.

Clearly, these are issues. However, their existence doesn't mean borrowers should lose hope.

Recently, American Student Assistance, the organization that writes the Student Loan Ranger blog, held a contest as part of our SALT® financial education program. SALT has an online community where members can talk with experts and their peers about student debt, financial aid and anything else related to paying for college or managing personal finances.

Within this community, we asked our members to share their personal financial success stories – and they did not disappoint. From high school students who saved up for school to recent college graduates who attacked their debts, more than 300 people offered up their inspirational tales.

Below are snippets from a few of our favorite stories, which have been edited for length and style. If you're looking for financial inspiration this year – to stick to your resolution, to pay down your debt, to find more money for school – check out all the stories .

Paying Off Debt in Two Years

"Dec. 17, 2011, was undeniably one of the best days of my life as it was the day I finally crossed the stage to earn my bachelor's degree. This day filled with joy and happiness, however, quickly turned into me scrambling to figure out how to pay all of the debt I had accumulated over those past four years. Student loans alone were approaching nearly $35, 000, I had numerous bills to pay including a car note, and on that particular day, I still had yet to secure a job. It was almost like everything happened so quickly.

"Fortunately for me, I gained employment with a company 10 days after graduation that allowed me to make a decent wage as a fresh, new graduate. I moved back in with my parents (something I never thought I'd have to do again), started couponing, started budgeting every cent that I spent and became extremely frugal with the little money I had.

"Each month, I overpaid on every loan I had in order to pay off the debt sooner and decrease the amount of interest I accumulated. It was a very long two years and I felt extremely broke for the entire time, but all of the lifestyle changes I made allowed me to pay off all of my debt in those two years."

Knowing the Value of Money

"I am a success because on my weakest days, I still got up and worked 12-hour shifts. ​I have never found myself in debt, I have always paid for everything I own out of pocket and best of all, I know the true value of a dollar. Money means so much, and to be honest, we all need it, but don't let it stop you from following your dreams.

"I work a little harder, I manage my time and I have given some things up to be successful at 21, but I'm getting there. Maybe one day I'll look back and laugh at what little money I have now, but until then, I know I'm a success story because I don't waste my money, and I definitely do not feel bad for myself. Life is hard – ​it's one lesson being learned after another; bring it on."

Graduating Debt-Free

"When I graduated from high school, I made the decision to take a year off from school and just work full time and save up money so that I might not have to take out a lot of loans to pay for school …

"During my one year of work I was able to save up enough to cover my college tuition, and I'm also still working part time to continue building my savings. So while I may not have graduated debt-free yet, I am fairly certain that I will be able to obtain this goal, and hopefully even have some money left over."

Interesting facts:

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