You've graduated: Now pay back your debts

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student loan debt
student loan debt

When I graduated from college, my bank account totaled exactly $0 and my first student loan payment on $10,000 was due in less than 30 days because I had used up my grace period on a semester internship in New York. I didn't have a job lined up and was simply heading home with my parents after the ceremony to see what turned up.

I still had my diploma in one hand when my father handed me a bill totaling up all that I owed the family for my four years of higher education. He's the sarcastic type, so I thought he was joking, but he was actually serious. I was taking on some of the debt burden, but my parents had taken out loans as well and he figured they were my responsibility. My mom had to talk him down and let him give me a little time to get on my feet -- interest free -- before I started making payments.

They also ended up co-signing my first rental lease and fronting the broker's fee and first month's rent when I moved to New York for an internship that paid $5 an hour (just to give a sign of the declining times: A few years later, that internship paid nothing at all, and the company went out of business last year). So it wasn't just Sallie Mae that I owed.