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Think Twice Before Incurring Student Loan Debt for a Second Career

By Edited Sep 5, 2016 0 0

After losing a job I loved due to a company buy-out in 2002, I found myself in a string of jobs that were low paying, thankless, and yes, most of all, boring. Finally, after two years of searching, I decided to go back to college to fulfill my life-long dream of being a teacher. I was told to go for a double certification in elementary and special education. So I did. I discovered that I loved special education students, after my first day in the classroom, and I believed there would be a job for me when I graduated.

I thought I had it made. I would graduate, get a job, and pay back the mounting student loans I was accumulating. Nothing could be further from the truth. Four years later, two surgeries, and a lot of substitute teaching in six different districts, I am now 51 years young and still looking for a teaching position while more layoffs are looming in the forecast for next September. I also fear for my substitute status as I over hear teachers saying, "if I am laid off; I'll just sub next year." I have already seen the number of substitute jobs slow since the first couple of years that I was a substitute teacher. I used to have jobs lined up weeks in advance, now I am lucky if I get called the night before. Schools are providing fewer training programs and teachers are afraid that if they take time off, they could lose their jobs.

I completed my Master's Degree online a year ago in April. Now my student loans are all due and my income has been less than the first three years of subbing. Yes, I was able to defer the majority of my loans. Once I do get a job and I can manage to pay on the loans for ten years and stay in the education field during that time, the balance might even be forgiven.

Meanwhile, I am terrified that I will never find my dream job, that I won't be able to make the payments, that I would have been further ahead with one of those boring, thankless, low-paying jobs. At least I wouldn't be this deep in debt. I have applied for hundreds if not thousands of jobs, many teaching, but lots of other positions as well and...nothing. At most, I have had a couple of screening interviews and two or three full-length interviews, but no call backs.

I hope and pray that the economy will change and education funding will become strong again. I am concerned for young students as well as older students like myself who may be led to believe that there will be jobs for them in the education field when they graduate. I know that I am not alone in this, but I do not have time on my side as younger teachers do. I don't have the resilience and energy that younger graduates have, nor do I have the freedom to "go where the jobs are." I have a husband with a job here in the Rochester, NY area. My only son, daughter-in-law, and first grandson are also here as are my mom, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. I couldn't bear to leave all of my family behind to explore my options.

Each and every day I hope and pray for a miracle as I continue to search for ways to supplement my meager substitute income. So please, think long and hard before diving into a venture that increases your debt but can not promise you a way to pay off that debt.



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