By George Erb
The Seattle Times.
Like many young adults, graduate student Taylor Reyes is pursuing her dreams of a career and a home while college debt piles up around her.
She’s worried whether she can earn enough money as a school counselor to buy a house and pay off student loans that could hit $50,000 by the time she graduates in May.
“I had felt so weighed down by these things,” the 25-year-old said.
But two volunteer financial planners showed Reyes that her ambitions can become reality. They also gave Reyes a plan for starting her career, managing her student loans and owning a home. Reyes could achieve all of those things by the time she’s 30.
Her story is also a case study of how young people can navigate the treacherous path from school to career and homeownership without getting swamped by debt.
Reyes knew she wanted to work with schoolchildren while earning a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology. Becoming a school counselor seemed like a perfect fit.
So she enrolled in a two-year graduate program. Reyes will graduate with a master’s degree in education and certification in counseling.
After graduation, she wants to stay in the Tacoma area and find work as a counselor in a public-school district. The positions typically pay between $45,000 and $75,000 a year.
To help make ends meet until then, Reyes is living at home and working about 20 hours a week as a nanny. Her income is variable and ranges between $14,000 and $20,000 a year.
Unlike many of her peers, Reyes has amassed a small nest egg. She has $8,000 in three checking and savings accounts, as well as $1,000 in a Roth individual retirement account.
But Reyes is also dealing with the financial realities of being a student. She owes about $1,500 on her car, and the debt on her student loans is about $41,000. Reyes expects her college debt to climb $9,000 more this year.