My mom co-signed $ 82,000 of my student loans and it hurt our relationship
- My mom and I weren’t sure what we were getting into when we took out $ 82,000 in student loans.
- After I graduated, I had a hard time talking to my mom about money or getting her help.
- My mom and I discuss our finances more openly now that I’m older and plan to see a financial planner together.
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In 2010, I was so excited to be accepted into my dream school to study with teachers who seemed genuinely excited about the work they do outside of teaching. I was 18 and dreamed of becoming an architect, and I received $ 30,000 in merit scholarships.
FAFSA? Principal promissory note? I didn’t know what those words meant, and I really didn’t care. Without much research or consideration for my financial future, I signed all of the paperwork that the school needed me to sign so that I could register for classes as soon as possible.
To help pay for my education, my mom co-signed $ 82,000 in federal and private student loans, and even took out Parent PLUS loans. Neither of us really understood what we were signing up for, but she signed the papers anyway because she supported my dreams.
After I graduated I struggled to have an open conversation about money with my mom
Because I felt guilty about our joint debt, I treated her like a debt collector after graduation and avoided all her attempts to talk to me about money. I took it all too personally and closed. My problems snowballed until they became unbearable, and I only contacted her when I was in a crisis.
Even though my mom wanted to support me, I stubbornly tried to do it all on my own with an irregular income of $ 1,000 a month or less. I moved to New York after college and pretended everything was fine when I couldn’t afford to eat three meals a day and was racking up credit card debt for spending money. emergency.
These dynamics have strained our finances and, more importantly, our relationships.
My mom reminded me that we’re not the only ones dealing with the crippling effects of student debt
In 2017, I finally sat down with my mom to figure out how much interest was accrued on our joint debt and what the minimum monthly payments would look like. Even with a full time job, I was not ready to commit to the monthly payments. I cried completely in front of her and finally expressed how guilty I felt about all of our debts.
My mother said with kindness and gentleness, “You know we’re not the only ones dealing with this, right? It happens to everyone in the country. She also reminded me that I liked the college I chose. The four years I spent there shaped my worldview and led me to an exciting career that I love.
It made a huge difference for me to know that I was not alone. My mom is always around here, and it helps to know that millions of other Americans are pressuring President Biden to completely write off student loan debt.
Our relationship flourishes when I am financially independent
Now that I’m in a better financial situation, I can get back to what really matters: maintaining a healthy, honest relationship with my mom.
With my clear mind and focused on the future, I try to communicate with my mom as clearly as possible on all money matters. In the new year, we have agreed to schedule regular meetings with a financial planner to find solutions, especially since student loan cancellation may not include private loans.
Instead of fighting for the student loan debt I have accumulated on our behalf, I choose to honor the financial investment my mom made in me by getting my finances under control and pursuing my creative goals.
Feeling guilty and ashamed won’t change the past, but it will prevent me from staying present for my mother’s wise advice and her incredible sense of humor.