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Most college graduates are no stranger to the heavy reality of paying off their student loans, especially today. Many even wish that the whole problem was simply vanish.
But Amanda Page, an Ohio writer and associate professor at a nursing school, found a way to make the experience of paying off her college debt an “adventure” – and shared with Fox News Digital in a interview exactly how she got rid of $48,000 in student loans over a 14 month period.
Paying off debt for good, she said, has really “dramatically affected my mindset about money.”
She said she had been carrying “a burden of debt” for some time and it had really affected her – but others didn’t need to live that way.
Paying off debt for good, she said, has really “changed my mindset about money dramatically. Now I have full confidence that no matter what, I can cover it. I can handle it.”
Here’s how she did it, step by step – and why it matters.
Veteran’s daughter with a passion: creative writing
Page, a second-generation college student and daughter of a veteran, left for Ohio University in 1994 in hopes of learning more about her passion: creative writing.
She finished her undergraduate studies and then took a few years off. After that, Page was given a full ride to the University of Alabama to pursue a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing.
But while planning for her college years, she decided to take out as many student loans as possible in order to meet other expenses, including books and groceries.
Once she got her second degree — and chose an expensive lifestyle for herself by moving to Los Angeles — the Appalachian-born grad realized she had racked up serious debt and that she had to do something about it.
“[My mom] insisted that I consolidate my loans. And I was like, ‘OK, OK, I’ll call them.’ I did – which turned out to be really awesome because I locked in my rate.”
And a full decade after graduating, she felt her debt had become “insurmountable”.
Page was burdened with $20,000 in loans from her undergraduate years, plus an additional $28,000 from her time in graduate school. She acknowledged that she needed to start repaying those loans in earnest – and said it was her mother who first suggested that she consolidate the loans.
“I remember that first apartment in Los Angeles on the phone with [my mom] and I didn’t really want to deal with it,” she said.
“She was insisting that I consolidate my loans. And I was like, ‘OK, OK, I’ll call them.’ I did, which turned out really great because I locked my pace.”
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But with an interest rate of 3.25% at the time, Page realized that the very small payments she was making each month did little to reduce her overall debt load.
“I guess I’m going to die with this debt,” she said, reflecting on how she thought about that time in her life. “It seemed insurmountable. I hadn’t earned more in a year than I had in debt.”
Page created Dream Beyond Debt with a flair for adventure: “Can I pay off $48,000 in college debt in a year?”
In December 2014, just before the New Year 2015, Page decided to start a blog – Dream Beyond Debt – to record his progress in eliminating his financial burden and to hold himself accountable.
She created Dream Beyond Debt with a flair for adventure: “Can I pay off $48,000 in college debt in one year?”
‘Seemed to be such a wild number’
“I didn’t care even if I failed,” Page told Fox News Digital. “That seemed like such a crazy number. I thought, Well, if I fail, I’ll have made progress and – you know, I’ll call it an adventure.”
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To make as much money as possible to get rid of debt, Page worked multiple jobs: She freelanced writing, took temporary jobs at the front desk, taught classes at three separate colleges AND scored tests. math in his spare time. She also sold items on Craigslist.
She cut costs by living with a roommate and driving her paid 2002 Honda CR-V.
In addition to working various jobs, Page cut costs by living with a roommate and driving his paid 2002 Honda CR-V. She also chose not to have children.
“During the summer [of that year]I did [something like] a payment of $10,000,” she said. “I remember making a payment and thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is my trip to Australia.’ I could really do something fun with that money.”
Still, Page persevered — and within 14 months, she was debt-free.
“It really changed my life,” she said. “I have more freedom.”
Page credited the personal finance blogging community for helping her gain confidence throughout the 14-month period. She said the community held her accountable.
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Shortly after paying off her debt, Page became a homeowner by taking the plunge of buying a house. She realized that the feat had become doable for her, now that she knew she had the ability to repay her debts.
Although this writer and teacher said she would never want to go into debt like her student loans again — “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” she said — she expressed her gratitude for the experience she experienced it and said it boosted her overall financial literacy.
“I now have a stronger emergency fund,” she said. “I invest.”
For anyone just starting to tackle their student loans, Page said to avoid taking it personally — or calling big debt a failure.
“I just knew that if I followed this adventure, something would happen – and what happened was beyond my wildest dreams.”
“Don’t let it steal your mind so much that you can’t be creative and have adventures,” she said.
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“Think of it as an adventure. It creates a bit of distance for you.”
Page has since focused on his non-profit organization, Scioto Literary, which supports local writers and artists in Portsmouth, Ohio.
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“Start and ‘how’ will happen,” she said, sharing her personal philosophy of solving problems.
“I had no idea how I was doing. [pay off my loans]. I just knew that if I followed this adventure, something would happen – and what happened was beyond my wildest dreams.”