Student debt was ruining my life.


I graduated from PA school in December of 2014.  For those of you who don’t know me well or my story, a brief background: I have three degrees and a lot of debt.  I made a lot of stupid choices with my education when I was young. I went to two private colleges before PA school.  I have a bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in counseling psychology.  I already had a lot of debt and I wasn’t happy with these choices (I know solid self high-five for me to screwing that one up).  For a multitude of reasons, I made these choices.  I had little to no guidance at what the hell I was doing <with my life>  and like I mentioned before I didn’t really have an academic or life direction.  I spent the majority of my childhood with my mom being very ill with cancer and my dad and I had a rocky relationship at best.  Regardless, I made those choices and I own them.  Fast forward to deciding to go to PA school and take on more debt.  I said screw it.  I can either live with a career that I’m not satisfied with because of extra financial burden or pursue what I want.  Obviously, I pursued becoming a PA and I don’t regret it.

However, I had/have a shit ton of debt. My federal debt is under control. But, I had private loans my father took out to pay for my undergraduate education (yea I signed the papers but lets be honest I had no idea what I was doing).  A process that I’m still not sure how I didn’t qualify for more federal loans–but, that is a story for another day.  I graduated to discover these loans had been thrown in to collection. I wasn’t paying them while I was in PA school and my dad didn’t pay them towards the end. So, there I was new white coat and 50k in private debt that I had no way to pay.  I had already accepted a position that wasn’t great paying–but, I took it because I knew the physician and I knew it would be a good learning experience (and it was a great group and experience).  Well–I definitely couldn’t afford both my federal and private loans.

There is a long story in between, but months later while talking with one of my supervising physicians she told me that I couldn’t stay at this job for loyalty.  That I had to take care of myself.  So, I did.  I looked in to work as a traveling PA.  Working as a travel PA would allow me to significantly increase my income and decrease my living expenses.  Hence, allowing me to pay off these private education loans that had become a real pain in my ass.

Back to my supervising MD.  She told me to set an alarm on my phone for one year from today.  She told me that one year from now your life will be substantially better, more stable.  Things will work out.  I did it. I set an alarm my phone and on August 1st I contacted her to tell her that she was right. This too shall pass and that I was strong enough and smart enough to take on everything that needed handled in my life. The result right now is that I’ve paid off nearly 25k in debt in 8 months. I’m over half way to my goal of paying off these damn private loans.

What’s my message and purpose? Why am I being so transparent about shit no one talks about?

This too shall pass. Loans suck.  Life is hard sometimes. Grab life by the balls, horns or whatever object you would like to insert here.  For anyone else out there who has suffered for whatever reason in student debt that has seemed insurmountable it will be ok.  You can find ways to make money and cut costs.  Especially as a PA–there are so many opportunities.  If you are in my shoes and want to pursue locum work, please e-mail me.  I can help you get in touch with the right person!

I tell my story to innumerable amounts of people in hopes that they will learn from my mistakes.  Go to community college first.  Know what your end goal is.  Have purpose in your action and education. Work during school and put that money–whatever you can towards your tuition. Go to state school.  No one gives a shit about your private college education besides you or your parents (hey if it’s paid for and you want to do it go for it–I’m speaking purely from a financial perspective).

I had no business going to college when I did. But it was expected and the norm–so I did.  I had no idea what I was doing and again to reference Amy Poehler: “We need to stop asking young people what they want to do and start asking them what they don’t want to do.”  I couldn’t agree more. Once you see what you want zero part of–you start narrowing down your options and what you want becomes more clear. Not only that, but you become more motivated to pursue things that will keep you from doing what you do not want to do.  We are a species that will avoid what we don’t like at all costs. Hence, you develop drive to pursue something you want.

I can blame my situation and point fingers–but I didn’t.  I might mention it, but I took responsibility and control.   People may read this and go “wow, that’s embarrassing” and laugh.  Whatever. Laugh, judge do whatever you want. You know why I say “whatever”? Because somewhere there is someone who is having the same emotional breakdown I did, and I’d rather help that one person than stay quiet for my pride.

If anyone out there has questions for me or needs direction or reassurance please feel free to contact me.  Always remember: “This too shall pass”.

14 thoughts on “Student debt was ruining my life.

  1. Thank you for posting this! I’m in a similar situation but I have more debt:( something I couldn’t control. I went to an out of state school for undergrad to pursue a degree in athletic training….a career field that really doesn’t pay well. I took a graduate assistantship position to get my masters and took out a really small loan to live off of for two years. I worked and luckily had that pretty much paid for. My end goal was to become a PA. Getting into school is SO competitive and so I went for that masters degree right from undergrad if nothing worked out with PA school. My mom didn’t go to college…my dad was a school teacher however he was a pretty severe alcoholic and was horrible with money. Basically I had no help so, like you, I did what I had to do to go to school but didn’t make the smartest decisions. My dad past four years ago and here I am in my first semester of PA school and I’m sitting on 100k of loans. Some federal and some private. It makes me sick. But I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to put it behind me. It’s embarrassing and depressing. I can’t tell you how many breakdowns I have had about it. I’ll be even more in debt when I graduate but plan to take a big chunk of my future paycheck and pay them off quick. Anyway seeing this, I appreciate you being open about it! I hope everything is going well


  2. Nothing to be embarrassed about, everyone takes out a crap ton of loans! Does the $50,000 include pa school tuition? If so, that’s pretty cheap! How long do you think it’ll be until everything’s paid off?


      1. Omg!! I have a B.S. in Dietetics and then decided that being a chef was my calling. Loans out the ***. I wish there were classes to help people that didn’t get loan counseling at home. I’m planning to go to PA school and I know that I’m going to accrue another $80,000 – total will be $165,000. It’s like I should’ve just gone to medical school. Thank you for being so transparent, because I am stressed out! How do you live while in school?


  3. Awesome article. I am considered a non traditional student applying to pa school. I actually want specifically to do travel pa. Best of luck, Cierra


  4. Thank You soooooo much…. I really needed to see this… I’m in the same position right now with a degree in psychology and Masters in Social Work and the job is not satisfying.. I really appreciate this and I believe you’re God sent. I felt so lost before reading this.


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