The Herald Bulletin

June 9, 2012

Paying down debt is slow going for BSU grad

More education would have helped, Dunham believes

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — By today’s standards, Kaylee Dunham’s college debt isn’t overwhelming.

Still, by the time she graduated from Ball State University in the summer of 2008 with a degree in health science, Dunham had borrowed $22,000 in federally subsidized Stafford loans.

Dunham, 27, and her parents split the cost of college. In addition to borrowing money to pay for her share, Dunham worked at a restaurant and tanning salon.

Married now and working for the Madison County Health Department as a food inspector, Dunham’s monthly loan payment is $250, but she regularly pays $300.

"I guess I didn’t realize how long it would take to pay off," Dunham said. "I’ve only paid $3,000 after four years."

In retrospect, Dunham thinks she might have done things differently if she had received credit counseling before taking out loans.

"I just wish I had known more," Dunham said. "I think I could have borrowed less had I known more."

One strategy Dunham would have likely used, she said, is to borrow only enough money at a time to pay essential expenses, rather than borrowing a larger amount because it was available.

With the loan factored into her family’s monthly budget, the college loan payment is manageable and "does not keep me up at night," Dunham said. "But if there were only one income, it would probably be next to impossible to afford."

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.