Paying off Debt

I recently had to make a decision about how to pay my student loans. One option was to follow a standard repayment plan, equal payments each month for the life of the loan. Another option was to sign up for a payment plan based off my income. I would make smaller payments each month -which usually means a longer loan- but then after 25 years the loan would be forgiven.

At first I thought the decision would be easy. Lower payments and a debt that would be forgiven? Why wouldn’t I choose the income based plan? I knew there were good financial reasons to pay off debt sooner: less money paid on interest, better cash flow month to month, etc. etc.  But as I did the math I found that financially the income based plan was still the best option.

So, I signed up. I felt smart for having more to spend each month and gracious to the government program that was making it all possible.

And yet, something felt off. I knew I wasn’t doing anything illegal, I was choosing a repayment plan that was being offered to me, and honestly reporting my income. But I also knew that I could afford to pay more, but was choosing not to knowing that what I didn’t pay would simply be forgiven later.

The more I thought about it, the more dishonest it felt. I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was right or wrong, but I wanted to find out. So, I asked around. I talked to my friends, older folks in my Church, my parents, trying to get a sense of what other people thought about debt, and how I should think about it for myself.

Talking about my situation with others let me see things from their perspective, and forced me to be honest with myself about what I was doing. In the end, I decided that I wanted to do my best to repay the loan in full as quickly as I could, and not depend on debt forgiveness to make everything all right later.

That doesn’t mean everyone should come to the same answer, but the next time you come to a hard decision about money, remember, there’s often more to consider than just the money. If you aren’t sure what to do, talk to people. A good friend will always help you find your way.

3 Comments

  1. That’s integrity right there and we need more of it all around. My hat’s off to you for doing what you felt was right.

  2. Thanks for the kind words Jason. As time has gone on it has definitely become clear that it was the right choice.

  3. I know you are securedly enveloped by the peace of doing what is right, which is far more expensive than the price of your forgiven debt… salute!

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