Down Debt

‘It was a huge relief’: Ten years after graduation, Sioux Falls man celebrates paying off college debt

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — It’s a day that many college graduates look forward to: the day student loans are paid off.

This day was the last week for Cory Foster, who graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in business management in 2012.

Foster posted about the milestone on Facebook. With interest, he has totaled his student loan repayments to more than $35,000 over the past 10 years. A 2007 survey by the South Dakota Board of Regents reported that US undergraduate resident tuition and fees, plus room and board, was $10,412, while tuition and fees were $5,752.

“It was great,” Foster said of paying off her loans in full. “Definitely a stress reliever. Ten years of paying this and you think back to all the interest you paid on top of the amount you took out and it makes you cringe.

Foster said he made a big final lump sum payment to pay off the debt just to “do the needful.”

He is happy to no longer be among the roughly 73% of South Dakota college graduates who have student loan debt totaling $3.6 billion, according to the Education Data Initiative. 113,000 student borrowers live in South Dakota and 60% are under 35.

“It was a huge relief and makes me feel like I can now buy this house that I put off,” Foster said. “I never really felt, until the last few years, that I could move on.”

According to the Brookings Institute, student loan debt is the second largest household debt, behind home mortgage.

Student loan debt was a problem Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls) criticized state lawmakers for not talking about it enough in legislative sessions.

“We have serious deficits in education. So far, all I’ve seen from the Republican Party, their biggest education initiative is trying to ban trans women from competing in athletics,” Nesiba said at the party leadership press conference. of Thursday.

Student debt has also become a campaign issue in recent years and since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, there has been a moratorium on federal student loan repayments. This moratorium was recently extended until May 1 by President Joe Biden.

Foster didn’t make student loan payments when the COVID-19 pandemic allowed payments to be delayed, but instead set aside money he would otherwise have invested in student loans in an account. saving. When his savings account reached enough to pay off the rest of his student loans, he waited no longer.

Foster cited career advancement and sticking to a budget as the top keys to paying off student loans.

“Getting to the point where I just made more money made it a lot easier,” Foster said.

After graduating, Foster said he “flew by the seat of the pants” and spent two months applying for a bunch of jobs he says he probably wasn’t qualified for.

Through a friend, Foster started working for Sioux Falls-based company Safe-N-Secure as a security systems installer. He called the job a bit of “ego control,” but quickly learned that positions change and there are ways to improve.

An injury sidelined Foster from the facility, but he was able to work out of the office and ended up helping run the company’s payroll and accounting after the person in that position left the company.

Foster eventually transitioned from that accounting position to a sales position and has worked with the same company since graduating from college.

“Accounting was my least favorite thing about business school,” Foster said. “I wouldn’t even have been offered this position without the diploma. It was the first time it started to pay off for me.

More than 10 years after having to make his own decision after high school, Foster said he wouldn’t change a thing. Originally, he wanted to attend the University of Nebraska like both of his parents, but noted that the price of out-of-state tuition was too high.

His advice for new college grads is not to expect their college degree to pay off right away, but rather years after college.

“It’s a long-term investment,” Foster said of a four-year college degree. “The opportunities you get from your degree might not appear until three years, five years or 10 years later.”