After spending a couple of years at community college, I decided that I wanted to become a high school physical education teacher. Knowing that without my bachelor’s in education, my dream to be a teacher would be just that, so I decided to pursue it. While I grew up in a middle-class family, my parents divorced the year prior to my desire to attend Oregon State University, and made too much money for me to be eligible for any grants or scholarships. At that point, I decided to take out a student loan, but had no other option than to take private student loans to pay for my education. After two years of college, I was approximately five terms away from getting my degree, but to cover the costs of tuition, books and housing, I had already amassed over $30,000 in student loans. I also worked full-time as a grocery store clerk, but that money barely covered the essentials like electricity, gas, insurance and food, so I ended up deferring payments until after I graduated. The only problem in deferring was that interest continued to accrue. Fast forward another year and a half and I was no longer able to afford to finish my degree due to the mounting student loan debt, and made the decision to continue working full time. Now as I approach my 30th birthday (eight years after I took out my first loan), I still have another 15 years left until I finish paying it of, and pay almost 25 percent of my monthly income toward student loans. While I have a supervisory role with a big box retailer, the pay isn’t nearly as good as I thought I would be making had I finished my teaching degree. I have already applied three times (unsuccessfully) for either a deferment or forbearance on my loan, and as those are “unsecured” student loans, they are under no obligation to grant those. So as hard as it can be to make my monthly payments, the penalties for not doing so (i.e. raised interest rates) would be much worse. I would advise anyone considering using a private uk loan to carefully weigh your options, and factor in what would happen if circumstances changed and were forced to work a job that paid well below what your desired career would have provided. If given the option of a do-over, I certainly would do anything to change my outcome no matter what it took.