My Student Loans? Paid in Full!

Reader, I finally did it!

Guess who's just joined the 'Paid In Full' club? Me, because I have paid off all my student loans.

On May 18th I saw a random notification on my phone. The subject line read “Paid in Full Letter.” I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know when or how. But when I saw it I knew my loans were done. I couldn't help but point up to God in a silent "Thank you." So it’s finally “f* these loans”, a mere 11 years post grad-school.

My victory lap got cut short when my daughter threw up on me.

Paved With Scholarships: The Not-So-Tortuous Journey🎓

My unwavering partner-in-crime while racking up all these loans: scholarships. In my undergrad days, a full-ride scholarship swept me through the first four years of school, even tossing in a complimentary laptop and a book stipend. I poured these resources into pursuing degrees in Computer Science and Economics—both disciplines destined to fill up my bank account and teach me how to manage it.

An ill-advised semester of partying and my ambition to garner two degrees meant dipping into my own pocket for one semester and an extra year. This was when I first felt the power of real estate, as my mom tapped the equity in our house to help me out. The outcome? I graduated undergrad with $0, with a capital “Z”, student debt. This was one of the biggest early wins in my wealth building journey.

MIT & MBA: The Higher (Priced) Education 🏫

Fast-forward to grad school. My father's dream of seeing his son at MIT and my own fascination with the esteemed institution had me vying for an MBA seat there. But quality education comes with a price. And while two other schools were making it rain with full-rides, MIT was only willing to “put something on it”.

The pragmatic choice was to opt for the full-ride scholarships I had from the other schools. But my heart was set on MIT. Loans and some old savings bonds (they really work!) bridged the financial gap. The deciding factor? The long-term payoff was worth the short-term debt, and the joy on my father's face? Absolutely priceless.

But now I had motherf****** student loan debt.

Refinancing: A Calculated Risk 💹

In 2016, four years post-MIT, my debt had swollen to a formidable figure. But with a cushy job at Facebook and my first stock grant putting $60K on them in one day, I got down to $35K from $100K+ within four years. To further my gains, I turned to Sofi and refinanced my public loans into a lower rate private loan with a variable rate.

Looking back, I had no idea of the pandemic-induced breaks on payments that wouldn't apply to me. Refinancing can be a savior if it lowers your interest rate significantly, but remember it comes at the cost of the benefits (forgiveness, deferment, Biden) offered by public loans.

In the end

Now, at the ripe age of 39, it feels weird to not have to pay these loans anymore. They’ve been with me so long. A constant part of the budget that I’m happy to be see go.