Looming student loans = Emotional distress!

Dear Alice,

I'm rapidly approaching the end of my studies as a graduate student in the school of the arts. The other day I looked at how much I owed in loans and I am freaking out. And now I think going to grad school was the worst thing I've ever done. I'm so scared right now.

Dear Reader,

While money can't buy happiness, not having enough can certainly bring on stress, anxiety, and fear. However, it may help temper your fears to remember that your loans were taken out as an investment in your future. They went towards something worthwhile: a graduate degree that will hopefully help you in achieving future goals, whether they're professional or personal. Additionally, school loans carry a low interest rate (in comparison to loans for other things, such as cars and houses). Loans can also help you to build your credit when you make your loan payments on time, and having good credit can help you get loans for major purchases later in life.

Rest assured, however, that you're not the only one feeling this way. In fact, the United States Department of Education has published loan repayment information to help you pay back your loans successfully. There are a variety of different repayment programs that graduates can use to help pay off their loans based on their life situations and financial backgrounds. Moreover, some student loans can also be forgiven or paid back by your employer, depending on the career you choose to pursue after graduation. Furthermore, those who work in education, medicine, or law may also be eligible for loan forgiveness. You can check out the public service website FinAid for more details on these and other loan forgiveness programs.

In order to prevent further feelings of despair, you might want to make sure you're living within your means, both now and after graduation. Keeping track of your expenses, making a budget, and sticking to it are great skills to have in order to be financially responsible and independent. You might also consider using software or online budgeting tools that will allow you to track your spending and financial obligations.

If all of this still doesn't alleviate your fears or make you feel more at ease, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional before graduation. They can work with you to help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety about your financial future, as well as anything else you might be "freaking out" about. 

In the meantime, try to enjoy the rest of time in grad school before it's over. Even though tuition and cost of living can be quite high, hopefully the knowledge that you've gained, the experiences you've had, and the relationships you've built were priceless. Best of luck (financially and otherwise) in the "real world!"

Last updated Jan 14, 2022
Originally published Nov 08, 2007