My name is Emily, and I currently owe $126,000 in student loan debt.
I tried to think about what I could have done differently to not be in this stressful situation at the age of 26.
I could have worked more in college to pay on the interest accruing, letting my grades slide.
I could have applied for more scholarships, but I still wonder how much of a difference that would have made, being an average white girl with no athletic skills; I was born into this fate, as a middle class citizen.
At least that is what I thought.
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA.
My father worked second shift in the steel mill and my mother went back to school to become a nurse.
Unfortunately that did not last long; after breaking my arm in the care of a babysitter, she felt guilty and decided to quite.
A few years later my father got laid off.
We sold our house and moved in with my grandparents.
My mother started to work as a secretary in a pediatrician's office and my father found a job working as a bus driver for the city.
This was the biggest blessing my family ever got.
My dad, without a college degree, was now part of a union and making decent money-at least more money than my family ever made before.
In a few years, we were able to save for a house and move out of my grandparents.
The rest of my childhood was relatively normal and for the most part we were an ordinary happy family.
We had good times; we had bad times and through the years my family grew stronger.
Then it came time for my family to enter the era of our lives known as college.
My brother started first, wanting to become a secondary education math teacher.
My mother started second working towards a degree in Business Leadership.
She believed that if she stuck it out, we would as well.
Then I started.
I decided to go to the University of Pittsburgh and stay close to my family.
What I did not know at the time was that this university was the most expensive public university in the country! My brother helped me apply for financial aid, but I could never receive enough money.
The government thought my middle class family made too much, so I had to take out 70 thousand dollars of private loans at insane interest rates, some up to 9.
Nevertheless, I graduated in May 2011 with a B.
in Information Science and a 3.
My brother, my mother, and my friends continued their education at the graduate level.
To live up to, what I thought was the expectations of others; I decided to follow in their footsteps.
I elected to try the field of education on for size this time.
Although a stellar programmer, I could not face the fact that I would be spending most of life isolated behind cubicle walls.
I wanted to help, talk to others, and make a difference with my daily work.
I decided education would be a perfect way to do just that while still using my IT expertise.
As a result, I received my M.
in Instructional Systems from the University of Pennsylvania, which unknown to me at the time is the second most expensive public university in the country! During the pursuit of my master's degree and since my graduation, I have been working mostly in the IT field trying to pay off my loans.
It's been three years, and I have yet to see my debt amount decrease by more than a thousand dollars.
In addition to this, my boyfriend, who serves the country, was transferred this year to San Diego, CA.
I cannot say that it's a bad place to live with its bright sunny weather and palm trees, but I can say that it is an expensive place to live.
Our rent amount has almost tripled from what it was in Pittsburgh, and the job I found now pays less.
I now work for a non-profit university training IT.
For all the reasons I went into education as a graduate student, I love this particular job.
So here I am right now: I live in the perfect city, with the perfect boyfriend, and perfect job.
However, it seems like my student loans have stripped all of those perfects out of that one sentence.
My perfect boyfriend and I want to get married but cannot afford to.
We want to buy a house in this perfect city but cannot afford to.
I want to keep my perfect job, but I cannot afford to either.
Isn't it ironic? At my current job, I can only afford to pay the minimum payments on my student loans with nothing left over to save for anything else, leaving my boyfriend to pay the expensive rent.
At this rate, it will take me more than ten years to pay off my loans.
I will then be 36 and my boyfriend will be 43.
I can only hope by this time in our lives my father will still be alive to walk to me down the aisle, my body won't reject having children, and the housing market will not increase exponentially.
What about President Obama's student debt plans for the middle class? Being a middle class citizen, somehow I make too much money for those plans to bring my monthly payments down; even if they did, they do not factor in all the private loans I had to take out.
I'm stuck and will never be able to afford to get ahead.
As many of us are and forever will be stuck in this middle class crunch.
Ultimately, it's my fault; I am not putting the blame on anybody's shoulders.
I could have done things differently.
Maybe I should have gone to state schools that weren't recognized academically but were more affordable.
Maybe I should have convinced myself that I could still live up to my potential by attending community college.
Where would I be now if I would have done these things? Would I have had the same experiences, knowledge, education, and "perfect" life that I have now but without this extraordinary amount of debt? I think it's doubtful.
If I went to a lower ranked school, I may have not made my way into graduate school or may have not had the job opportunities I have had.
All in all, our system is not set up to get ahead, especially for a middle class girl like me.
I just want to know, how many people are out there like me? Obama's middle class is now getting help to afford college and the rich don't have to worry about it.
Where does that leave people like me, the ACTUAL middle class?