I’m no stranger to the student debt blues. You know, that overwhelming feeling that you made a horrible, horrible decision regarding going to college? Or maybe it’s just a twinge of frustration that you can’t afford anything. Like at all. Like scrounging for quarters to get something off the dollar menu for breakfast at all.
Do you know the feeling?
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I’ve chosen instead to reflect on the reasons why having student debt is actually a good thing. Here are my top four.
1. Building Credit
I’m very in debt. Because of that, I’m struggling to save; however, that very indebtedness will actually help me buy a house, a car, and lots of other things in the not-so-near future. And that’s because I have a student loan I pay regularly.
When you apply for loans, lenders will check your credit score to determine if you’re a good or bad risk for them. By showing that you can manage to pay bills (large bills) on time, you improve your trustworthiness in their eyes.
2. College Email Address
Student debt isn’t the only thing I got from attending college. I also received a student email address. An email address that I can keep. Forever. So, according to the online world, I’m a student. Forever. This means I can get student discounts!
Before you chastise me, listen: Most of these discounts are for “”students.” There is no specification if they’re for current students. Plus, don’t broke new grads deserve discounts too? Also, if I’m using them for professional reasons, I think it’s OK. It’s not like I’m going to student night at my local bar. Adobe Creative Suite and New York Times delivery at a reduced rate? How can I resist?
So, fellow new grads, check to see if your .edu address still works. Or if you still look enough like your student ID photo. These could come in handy.
3. Tax Benefits
If you have student loans, you can choose from several opportunities when filing your taxes that will help you get a greater return. If you make under a certain amount in income, you can use whatever you pay in interest every year (up to $2,500) to decrease your taxable income (check out IRS Publication 970 for the income limitations). In turn, that can increase your tax refund. People without student debt don’t get cool tax breaks like this.
4. Your Degree
I know it’s obvious, but I think it needs to be said. I often forget why I took out my loans in the first place. Frequently, we focus too much on what we’ve lost (for me, it’s been vacations, martial arts classes, and leisure time) and take what we have because of our loans for granted.
A world of opportunities is available to me just because I went to college. I have a great job with great pay (for someone with a liberal arts degree, at least), an education, and experiences that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. Is all that worth six digits? I’ll let you know in a few years.
Have you found a silver lining to your debt? Share it in the comments.
(Photo: Our Lady of Disgrace)
Update 11/24/14: This post was updated to clarify some of the tax information mentioned.