Where's my money?

I graduated from college almost completely debt-free.  Here is how I did it.  

In high school, the first thing I did when I got home from school was complete all homework that had been assigned that day.  Even if it wasn't due for a couple of weeks, I finished it the day it was assigned.  If the teacher wouldn't accept the work early, I kept it safe until it was time to turn it in.  I managed my time wisely, prioritizing schoolwork, chores, sleep, the Lord, and personal hygiene.  Sometimes, I had time for friends.  This led to teasing by peers.  I chose this to do well at school.  These choices earned me scholarships to every college I applied to.  

The scholarships did not cover everything.  The summer after I graduated, I moved to live with family close to college.  I worked two jobs that summer.  I was a cashier at Family Dollar and the janitor at a gas station.  I saved everything I made.  After I paid housing, meal plan, tuition, books, and supplies, I was short $142.  My father gladly offered to pay it.  That was the last time I needed help from my family to pay for my education.

I lived in the cheapest dorm.  I had no car.  I had no money.  I walked or biked everywhere.  I made many friends in college.  If they ever planned an activity and invited me, I refused to go because I couldn't pay.  In college, I did my work the same as I did in high school.  I did not drink or do drugs.  The first half of college was very much like the first semester.  I took semesters off to work and earn money to pay for the next semester while living with family.  I continued this strategy until I got married.

The university would not let us live on campus.  Since I was not living on campus, the university withheld over $6,000 of my scholarships.  So I joined the U.S. Navy in their NUPOC (Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate) program.  It was a very difficult and selective interview process, but my previous life choices helped me be accepted and exceed the requirements of the program.  Once in, I never had to worry about paying for college again.

But I did get a student loan.  After two babies, we needed a safer vehicle.  We couldn't get financing for the vehicle.  My wife thought that if we got a student loan, it would improve our credit, and we could get financing.  She talked me into it.  It didn't affect our credit.  So we started paying it off before I graduated.  I was unable to stay in the Navy due to health problems that didn't show up until I went to OCS.  That life event is another essay entirely. 

After I left the Navy, I was blessed to find an engineering job.  It paid well enough that I could support my growing family, pay off the student loan, and pay back money the U.S. Navy demanded I pay back, all in under two years.

That was over 14 years ago.  I made choices and sacrifices to avoid student loan debt.  Throughout college, the university financial office and guidance counselors were pushing me to get student loan debt.  I chose to remain debt-free and pay off the debt I had.  It was a harder road at first, but much better in the long run.  

Now that President Biden is forgiving student loan debt, can I get back what I paid off?

Image: Pixnio.

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