25 People With Student Loans Revealed How Much Money They Currently Make, And It's Eye-Opening

It's no secret that student loan debt has become a crisis in this country. Because of the predatory nature of these loans, folks are struggling to make ends meet, support their families, and get ahead in life.

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So we recently asked people with student loans in the BuzzFeed Community what they currently make. Here's some of what they had to say:

1."I finished my teaching degree from an online college. I have a little over $80,000 in student loans. I make about $3,700 a month, and my husband makes a little less. I don’t know how I will ever pay this off. The amount of income-driven repayment is way more than we can afford with other bills. I’m not sure how to dig myself out of this hole."

"We are a family of three, and we are struggling with a mortgage and two car payments. If we don’t get some kind of relief, I don’t know what I’ll do. Possibly a second job, which means I’ll probably never get to see my 3-year-old."


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2."Graduated from law school with almost $400,000 in student loans. After five years of payments, my balance has increased to $500,000 due to interest. I make $70,000 (before taxes) per year as a public defender. If I can survive on this low an income once I have a family to support, I plan on working as a public defender for 10 years so I can hopefully get my loans forgiven. If not, I fear I will die before I can ever pay them off."


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3."I was a single mom of two small children and was told over and over that college was the only way out of poverty. Well, I got my degree and still make less than $50,000 a year. I currently owe $130,000. I'll never be able to pay it off or purchase a home. I'm 52 and have no idea how I will retire or even live once I can't work anymore."


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4."I've been in the recruiting world for nearly six years. Started at the bottom making only a couple of dollars above minimum wage, and now I make $50,000. My loans started at $114,000, and at the beginning, I was barely making ends meet and relying on credit cards (bad, I know!). After some loan repurposing, major changes in lifestyle, promotions, and a pandemic that cut back on spending and gave me some options for my monthly payments, I just got my loan balance down to $79,000. I'm proud of my progress but still defeated knowing how much more I have left to pay."


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5."I’m about to turn 65. I have over $100,000 owed in student loans and regret having gone to college, as my earnings are $60,000 yearly. I have had to file bankruptcy and can’t afford to retire because I have a chronic health condition and will be paying student loans until I die. This debt should be removed for senior citizens."


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6."Graduated 12 years ago into a recession with $99,000 in loans. It took almost two years for me to find full-time employment making about $75,000 a year. Took another 11 years to get my annual salary up to $127,000. As of today, I've paid over $90,000 on my loans, but thanks to predatory interest rates, my overall loan balance is still hovering around $89,000. This spring, I found a new job and was able to almost double my salary so that now I make $220,000 a year. For the first time in a decade, I feel like I might actually be able to dig myself out of debt."

"However, it still stings knowing that by the time I'm done paying off my loans, I will have paid the federal government (all of my loans are fed loans) almost $250,000, which is two and a half times the actual value of my degree. What a stupid investment. To be clear, I'm not mad about repaying the cost of my tuition or even the interest associated with it. I am mad that the total amount I will end up paying so egregiously exceeds the original amount of my loan and the cost it took to administer it. The government shouldn't be making such a profit by mortgaging the futures of its students."


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7."I worked at a public library for several years and went to community college before transferring to a university to get my bachelor’s degree. I am now $51,000 in debt, am a library associate, and make about $40,000 a year. I’m passionate about libraries, but it’s hard to justify going back to school to get my master's to become a librarian if I'll increase my debt by another $30,000–$50,000, just to make $50,000 a year."


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8."I went to grad school and have $98,000 in student loans. I have been paying for over eight years, and the principal has only decreased $5,000. I make $110,000 now but live in one of the most expensive cities in the US. In my area, $110,000 to support a family of four is basically nothing."


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9."I regret going to veterinary school. Between undergrad and vet school, I have $360,000 in student loans. I make $125,000."


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10."I went to college with absolutely no guidance or goals. I completely wasted $50,000 in student loans for a degree in theology that I never completed. I’m quite ashamed of the failure, but I learned a huge lesson as a result. Too bad it’s an expensive one. After years of working dead-end jobs for low pay, I’m now in trucking, making over $100,000 a year. Best rebound ever, but that $50,000 still haunts me when I think about it."


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11."I am in debt $60,000 for a master's in education. It might have been worth it had there been a single job in the field the first three years after I graduated (teachers here start around $55,000 and often make $70,000-plus after five years, so I thought the debt was worth it). It was just after the '08 collapse, and no one was retiring because their retirement funds had all tanked. After a year, I took a job making $35,000 in another field, the same amount I was making before I got my master's. I kept trying for several more years, but no luck. By then, my certification had expired and Common Core came in, so I’d need to start over."

"I now have a health issue that would make it impossible to teach in person. Nearly 15 years later, I still make only $50,000. I’m now divorced and broke, barely able to pay rent for my studio apartment, praying that my 2007 Corolla hangs in there. I’ll never be able to buy a house. I didn’t have kids because I knew I couldn’t afford it. My life would be so much better if I’d never taken out those loans to get that degree."


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12."I have a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies because I kept changing my major and didn’t have enough credits to graduate in anything specific. I'm $74,000 in debt. No income because I wouldn’t make enough to cover childcare, so I stay home with my kids while my husband works. I’m starting my MSW in a few months — will likely be about $115,000 in debt by the end of it and will probably be lucky to make $50,000 a year."


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13."I took out about $50,000 in student loans to attend a state school. I graduated in five and a half years (took a semester off and changed majors three times). Ended with a BA in psychology and did six months of social service, only to realize I could not do it; it was emotionally tolling and a very underpaid sector. I switched to become an administrative assistant ($52,000) at a corporate office. Over the course of 10 years, I moved to executive assistant ($64,000) and then to executive project specialist ($75,000), back to executive assistant ($80,000), and now I’m a director of operations ($120,000 plus bonus)."

"Literally until now, none of my jobs made the student loan debt worth it. I can argue that my degree has come in handy, but I can also argue I don’t use it. I still have $22,000 in federal loans and am waiting for a relief plan from the Biden administration. Either way at this point in my career, I am finally not living paycheck to paycheck. Don’t take out loans if you don’t need them."


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14."I am a clinical research coordinator. I love my job and my patients, but I make $60,000 a year and have $160,000 in student debt remaining after paying toward it for 10 years. I am often told my degrees make me 'overqualified' for positions. While I do love what I do, I have a master's degree and am doing a job that doesn’t even require a degree."


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15."As a suddenly single parent of five, I graduated from college at 40, hoping that my communications degree would give us all a better future. It didn't get me any job that ever topped $25,000 a year, and the interest just kept piling on, always more than I could pay monthly. Now, 18 years later, I owe more than when I graduated. If there's one thing I could undo on my life, it would be wasting four years on a worthless degree that will keep me in debt forever."


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16."I was determined to be the first in my family to get a college degree. I joined the military for the GI Bill. When I got out of the military, I was living on my own and struggling to make ends meet. I ended up getting loans in order to have an apartment. I got my degree in computer info systems and thought that would be a great choice, but then the Great Recession hit. I was $40,000 in debt for that degree. A few years later, I was not getting any calls back for jobs even with my degree, so I decided to get my MBA. Added another $60,000 to what I already had, so I was in the hole for $100,000."

"I've only had one job that paid me really well — every other job I've had has paid me under $50,000 annually. Currently, I make $45,000, which is sad for my experience and education."


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17."I have a master's in architecture and am currently working as an architect. Ten years in, I am currently making $100,000 a year, but I have to make money stretch, as I am paying off $300,000 in student loans."


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18."I work as an event coordinator for a well-known university, making $46,000 a year. I went into college thinking I'd go into the medical field in some capacity, and I realized during the fall semester of my senior year that I was miserable with my choice. So I switched to a major that would allow me to graduate with the credits I already had. My student loans were less than $40,000 when I graduated, and I've managed to pay off around half of that number so far. But that wouldn't have been possible without the hold on the interest due to the pandemic."


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19."I'm an occupational therapist in New Jersey. In order to practice, I need a master's degree, so I had to go to grad school. I graduated with about $125,000 in debt and soon made $80,000 a year. Over 10 years later, I'm at $120,000 in debt and make about $95,000 a year. I knew going into it that I would have loans forever. For me, it's not the fact that I have them; it's the payment amount each month that's impossible to maintain. Very few 18-year-old kids understand what paying $1,000 a month looks like for the next 30 years."


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20."I have a master’s degree in social work. Spent the last 10-plus years working at nonprofits, making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year (even with a master's degree and professional license). I now work for a for-profit agency and make $70,000 annually. I’m about $81,000 in student loan debt and praying for public service loan forgiveness (PSLF)."


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21."I went to a state school and took longer than expected to graduate because I was dealing with depression. Graduated with a marketing degree and still have the same job I did during college (retail warehouse manager), making $40,000. My student loans equal $90,000."


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22."My teacher salary in southeast Missouri was $30,800 a year. Student loan total with interest: $66,000. In June, I became a social worker making $36,000 a year."


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23."I have a BA in telecommunications, making $45,000, and I'm in debt for $139,000. When I graduated 13 years ago, my debt was $115,000. I've been making payments all of those 13 years, SMH."


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24."I make $60,000 as an assistant director of an international education program. I owe $35,000 (which was my original loan amount) after paying aggressively before the pandemic. I started school over 10 years ago, went to a public school, and took out federal loans. I worked at my university during my master’s to get a tuition waiver and am barely starting to pay on the principal of the loan. Come through for us, Biden!"


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25.And finally, "I graduated from college in 2011 with a BS in criminal justice. I had to use loans, and it makes me cringe now, but I don't know what else I would have done. Heading off to college was just 'what you did' at that point. However, I was sure that I would land an exciting job after graduating and that I would swiftly pay back these loans. Fast-forward to 2022, and I have been working in county government for almost 10 years now. I came in at entry level, and I just recently crossed $40,000 a year. My job is pretty complex, and I definitely feel like I contribute to society; public servants are simply underpaid."

"I made payments on my student loans from around 2012 until 2020, when the pandemic freeze happened. I have made absolutely ZERO progress because of interest, so I owe the same amount I started with. This is what the naysayers don't understand: We want to pay off the loans that we signed up for, but the interest is making it impossible for us to make any progress."


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Do you regret your student loans? How much do you owe compared with how much you currently make? Share your experience in the comments below.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.