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Student Loan Relief: My Second Stage of Adulthood


I’ve been paying for at least eight years, but without recent changes thanks to the Biden Administration, I would be YEARS behind.

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By Tristan Acker

My whole life I knew I would go to college. It was a given. As a young kid my sister and I looked toward our dad as a shining example of what it meant to study a passion in college but still be able to thrive. When it came time for me to go to college at California State University, San Bernardino, my parents were there to help me initially, but it quickly became apparent it would be a struggle. So I took out my first loans.

When you’re 18, you don’t fully realize what you’re signing yourself up for. For many in my generation, your whole life you’re told this is what you’re supposed to do, even if the money or support isn’t there to get that higher degree and fulfill that dream. You’re a kid who’s being asked to make this adult financial decision, and it’s scary.

By the time I was a college senior, I had taken a full-time student assistant job, so I needed classes that fit with that schedule. But it was 2008, and that meant a recession and limited funding across higher education. I became stuck and had to drop out of college because there were no classes that fit my schedule. I couldn’t work and study at the same time. It was one of the lowest points of my life.

I was finally able to graduate in 2012 by devising a plan with my bosses as a state employee. However, because of my schedule, I still had to take a semester full of loans to cover the few classes I needed. I went on to graduate school, and by the time I graduated with my master's degree, I had racked up $120,000 of debt.

My union job as a state employee, unionized with SEIU Local 1000, set me up for the life I have now. It enabled me to have a good paycheck, buy a house, and ensure I finished college. I will always be grateful for that.

But the loans were ever-present. And as the years progressed, even before I graduated, they became more and more of a burden.

I’ve never been an adult without my loans. I’ve been paying for at least eight years, but without recent changes thanks to the Biden Administration I would be YEARS behind. Loan forgiveness as President Biden has promised and pushed for will mean the world. It will mean the second stage of adulthood.

I qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), which means that after 10 years of consistent payments, my loans will be forgiven. As President, Joe Biden has not only reinvigorated this program but he’s ensured that borrowers like me, those who have continued to pay, can still qualify and finally find some relief. I was already on an Income Drive Repayment plan (IDR) and that took my payment from $1300/month to $300/month, but the Saving on a Valuable Education or SAVE plan took that down to 110 bucks. The SAVE Plan took my student loan payment from a car bill to a phone bill and that means I can pay it on time every month.

I’m a proud voter and I understand that my voice, my vote, can hold our leaders accountable, that policies impact people, and that if you care about people less fortunate than you, you have to face those realities head-on. In my day-to-day life, as a disability claims professional, I see this firsthand. I see government policies, created by elected politicians, change lives.

I’m 14 months or so away from having my loans forgiven. My life will enter a new chapter when that finally happens. Working people like me deserve to thrive. Leaders like President Biden are standing with working people to ensure that happens.

Learn more about the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan and other Income-Driven Repayment Plans today >>