President and CEO
President and CEO
Gregoire M., Florida
I am a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve. My education and resulting Bachelor in Business Administration degree set me up for success in the military. I've been successful in the Army in part because of the preparation I received at the University of Miami.
I turned to you to help fund a gap in financing. When I began repaying my student loan I set up automatic payments from my checking account for the minimum payment. Most importantly I created a budget and was disciplined about sticking to it. I took my income less my expenses then set money aside for discretionary spending (not much). The excess went to paying down debt starting from the debt I paid the most interest on. Once I paid one debt off I used the money to pay off the next highest paying debt until I became completely debt free. It's a good feeling.
"Create a budget early and be disciplined about sticking to it. Don't live beyond your means. Once you're debt free, build savings or a six-month emergency fund. There will always be distractors and events that will tempt you to cut into saving. Those opportunities will be there after you've build a debt-free life with an emergency fund. If fact, you'll be in a better place to enjoy those opportunities."
Mia V., California
I graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2007 with my B.A. in English (writing) and Biblical studies. I paid as much as I could every month, even during grace periods. Any little bit that I've been able to put toward my loans, I have. I've successfully paid off two out of three student loans. All loans were on a 10-year plan and I'll be debt free in six years!
"Have fun, but think long term. Once your loans are paid you don't have to worry about monthly payments for the next 10, eight, six years because they're paid! And believe me, when you're out there paying rent, electricity, water, gas, car payments, etc., it's going to feel amazing not to need to worry about your student loans also. Just focus your spending and you'll be debt free much quicker than you imagined."
Colleen T., Connecticut
I graduated from Fordham University in 2012 as the class valedictorian. During undergrad, I was a finalist for the International Mitchell Scholarship, and an alternate for the Fulbright Scholarship to study in Ireland. Now, I am working towards a Master of Philosophy in English and Irish literature at Trinity College Dublin at its Oscar Wilde Center. One day I hope to teach at the college level.
While at Fordham I worked at Fordham's NPR-affiliated radio station, WFUV, and hosted the Irish music show each week, called Ceol na nGael (Music of the Irish). After four years of working at WFUV, I was able to accumulate some savings. I also won some academic prizes my senior year at Fordham with some financial awards and with that money and my savings I was able to pay off my college loans quickly. I could have deferred paying off the loans because I was continuing my education at the graduate level, but I chose to pay them off right away and avoid extra interest in the long run.
"Work if you can while in college. Save what you can over the four years. Pay off your loans as quickly as possible to avoid the accumulation of interest. Be motivated, work hard, and you'll be successful."
Kent I., Ohio
My education positioned me to get a great job with one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. I am doing exactly what I had hoped for throughout my education. I earn a good income and have many career opportunities ahead of me that would never have been possible without my education.
To successfully manage my student loan payments, I paid as much as I could each month without sacrificing any savings goals. I never paid the minimum payment required and was able to pay off my student loan in just over two years.
"My advice for new college graduates would be to pay as much as you can afford each month toward your loan. Delay major purchases (homes, cars, trips, etc.) until educational debt is taken care of."
Terrie L., California
It's a true saying, "You never stop learning, and education lasts a lifetime." Since graduating from college I have done many things that utilize what I learned in college. My degree in communications is something I use in every part of my life.
Paying off my student loan was a long and tough road. It is by far one of my biggest accomplishments in my life. I had to defer my student loan a few times due to layoffs at work and financial hardship. These were indeed set-backs, they cost me a few years from meeting my goal of paying off my loan.
As soon as I got back to work, I got back on track. You worked with me on many occasions to make my payments manageable and I thank them for that. I paid off my loan by consistently paying extra when I could. It felt so good to pay my student loan in full, it was such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I wish all of our new grads great success with paying their loans off.
"The biggest tip that I can give a new college grad is: pay extra your loan each month. The more you pay, the quicker you can reach your goal. The key is being consistent and when you have extra money beyond your budget, put it on your student loan. Don't use the money for other things. You will feel so much better once you can say, 'I did it!'"
Carolina M., New York
I graduated in 2008 from the University of Rhode Island, with my degree in human development and family studies. My college experience was definitely something great. I simply did my work and wanted to graduate and be successful. My education helped me obtain my good job and I have met many friends in my field who are considered family.
"Pay as much as you can. Don't pay the minimum please! Always put money aside to pay off your debt because it's a great feeling when you receive an email stating that you have paid off your loan!"
Andrew B., New Jersey
After the passing of my college mentor I decided to enroll in a Master of Arts in Teaching program at the School of Visual Arts where I received my BFA 12 years earlier. I felt that I was at a point in my life and career where I wanted to "give back" what I had learned. After simultaneously working in design, teaching grad school and enrichment programs for children, I attained a full-time teaching position with the NYC DOE at the High School of Art & Design, a career and technical education program dedicated to the commercial arts. I currently teach graphic design to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
My education taught me the importance of being organized, and how to start and finish a project. I was certainly acclimated to the process thanks to working 12 years in the design industry loaded with intense rigor and strict deadlines. Since I was older when I decided to return for my master's degree, I found that my formal education dovetailed my real life experiences. My education has provided me with many professional connections as well as attaining the teaching position I wanted.
"After living off my savings while completing my master's degree I returned to the graphics industry where I was able to make a decent salary and pay off my debt. I eliminated my credit card bills first since they had the highest interest. I completed that by the time my student loans started (six months after graduating). Once my loan repayment began, I paid twice the amount due for nearly three years until my son was born when I could only pay $20 over the minimum payment. After several months I was able to return to paying twice the amount. There is a famous Hungarian proverb: "He is rich who owes nothing." Needless to say I don't like to owe money. I set a realistic goal to pay off my loan in less than 10 years. By staying focused I was able to pay my loans off within nine."
Fran D., Maryland
From the time she was a little girl, my daughter was a highly motivated student determined to go to a top 20 university. A divorced mother of two, I found myself the unlikely sole supporter of making my children's goals a reality. How was a legal secretary going to do it? When my daughter was joyfully accepted at Vanderbilt University—meeting her long-held goal—we were expertly guided through the financial aid process to our dream maker, you. Through a combination of work-study grants, student loans, and excelling at her studies, my daughter lived her dream and achieved a successful career in economics. She rose through the ranks of investment banking, working with top names in the field, and retired when her family expanded. Happily married to her university sweetheart, also a student loan recipient and now a highly successful Navy surgeon, she manages the finances of her extremely active and thriving family in the challenging economic environment of Southern California.
You made this possible by working out an affordable payment schedule based upon my financial commitments. I chose to put these payments first and leveraged auto-debit to keep on track. In my case, I rented rather than buying a home, kept credit cards to a minimum, worked overtime, and I didn't travel for vacation. This is a commitment to achieving a goal and the satisfaction of achieving it lasts a lifetime for my daughter and for myself. And, very importantly, when my elderly parents' health required my full attention and I experienced financial hardship, you worked with me to defer payments until I could maintain them again. That was a huge gift. What other financial institution does that? It only increased my commitment ten-fold.
"My story will hopefully motivate students and parents to go for it, reach for it, and know that they can do it. They can get for their son or daughter the future he or she dreams of, that they dream of together. It takes work; it is a commitment, but they can do it. Keep envisioning that bright future, and the alternative, and make it happen."