I’ve dreamt of this day for so long, now that it’s here, I’m not sure what to say other than “wooohooo, no more student loan!!!”
Always having to be different, when my contemporaries from O’Gorman High School‘s class of 1995 who were off to university were filling out OSAP forms, I was applying for a Canada Student Loan. Why? Because I wasn’t attending a university in Ontario, but one in the United States instead. If it weren’t for meeting my wife in university, going to the US for my post-secondary education can be considered a stupid idea with the increased cost and the horrible exchange rate at the time. By the time I had graduated in December of 1999 with my Computer Science degree, I had $74 to my name and faced a debt of over $26,000 owing to the Royal Bank.
It may seem strange that my student loan was through a bank, rather than directly through the federal government. That’s one of the joys of the Canada Student Loan. In what seems like a punishment for leaving the country for education, I had to do all of my loan dealings thorough a bank. For whatever reason, my bank wasn’t on the list of approved banks for Canada Student Loans. My choices were the Royal Bank and CIBC. My reason for going with the Royal was due to the fact that it was closer to my parents’ house in Timmins for me to go to the Royal Bank branch in the 101 Mall than to go up two more blocks on Pine Street to get to the CIBC; brilliant logic, I know.
To add insult to injury, the Royal Bank slapped an 8.5% interest rate on my student loan, and repayment began June 1, 2000. I wasn’t making much money at that time. I had to take the first job offer that I got, since the Dot-Com Bubble was bursting and not a lot of hiring was going on. While it’s fair to say that a post-secondary education is an investment with short-term pain that (hopefully) yields long-term gain, facing more than $26,000 in debt that’s going to get worse by 8.5% each month when you have no money and aren’t earning very much is a very scary thing when you’re starting your career. So I’ve found that burying the monster that was my student loan debt was extremely satisfying.