When you have student loans, you may feel overwhelmed and alone with your debt. But you are far from alone in your student loan struggle — even the rich and famous have struggled with this type of debt. Some celebrities have taken a good long time to get rid of their student loan debt, too. Here are the stories of some celebrities with student loans, and how they managed their debt.
Celebrities with student loans
The road to the U.S. presidency is not always a cheap one. Former President Barack Obama went to Occidental College and Columbia University before getting his law degree at Harvard Law School.
In a 2013 speech, Obama said both he and former First Lady Michelle Obama graduated with a lot of student loan debt, particularly following law school (both attended Harvard Law). He also didn’t finish paying back his loans until he was in his 40s.
“We each graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt,” he said in the speech. “And even though we got good jobs, we barely finished paying it off just before I was elected to the U.S. Senate.”
Obama noted that he should have been saving for his daughters’ education while he was still paying off his own student loans. And while that must have been a difficult choice, paying down your own debt before saving money for your children can be a smart financial decision for the long-term.
The writer Cheryl Strayed is best known for her bestselling book, “Wild,” which became a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon. But before she found success and had a movie star playing her on the big screen, Strayed struggled with money problems, including a high student debt load.
“My husband (and) I were both buried in student loan debt well into our 40s (we both grew up poor/working class with families who couldn’t/didn’t contribute any $ to our college educations),” she tweeted in 2019.
Strayed went to the University of Minnesota as an undergraduate student and later earned an MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University in New York.
In an anthology about writers and their money issues, Strayed also talked about how she was only able to pay off her student loans when she finally got the advance for “Wild. “ She also had around $85,000 in credit card debt at the time.
You don’t have to wait to get a windfall to start managing your student loan debt, however. Here are six ways you can repay your student loans.
Actor Miles Teller has starred in movies including the “Fantastic Four” and the “Divergent” series, but, as of 2015, he was also still paying off student loan debt from his time at New York University.
In a 2015 interview with Vulture, Teller said his business manager told him that interest on his debt is so low, it made no sense to pay them off earlier.
While that decision might work for Teller because he has multi-million dollar movie contracts and may be making other investments, for some people, it makes sense to pay off student loan debt faster.
If you can’t decide if it’s better to pay off your loans or invest your money, check out this student loan payoff versus invest calculator to help you make an informed decision.
While you may know her from the hit show “Grey’s Anatomy,” Kate Walsh struggled financially early on. In her younger years, she worked at Burger King and Dairy Queen. Later, she attended the University of Arizona.
In a 2016 interview with Refinery29, Walsh stressed how difficult it was to handle her debt.
“I am a person who came out of college with, oh, jeez, just thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in debt,” she said in the interview. “And the only way I was, honestly, able to pay off my student loans was at age 37, because I happened to get on a big, fat TV show called ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ and I was able to finally pay my student loan debt. And that’s insane — it was just interest accruing and accruing and accruing.”
In part because of her experience with student loans, Walsh campaigned to encourage people to get out and vote in the 2016 presidential election.
If your favorite show is “Scandal,” take comfort in knowing that Olivia Pope understands your student loan woes. In fact, actress Kerry Washington didn’t finish paying off her debt from George Washington University until she was cast in that iconic role, she told Elle magazine in a 2016 interview.
In a speech she gave at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, Washington emphasized where she came from and how student loans made education possible for her.
“I’m here not just as an actress but as a woman, as an African-American, a granddaughter of Ellis Island immigrants, a person who could not have afforded college without the help of student loans,” Washington said.
Actor Jon Hamm starred as advertising executive Don Draper for years on the highly acclaimed TV series “Mad Men.” But before he found serious success, he also wrestled with debt from his days as a student at the University of Missouri.
At a political rally in 2014, he told the crowd that, although he graduated college in 1993, he was not able to pay off his debt until 2004.
“It shouldn’t be that way; it really shouldn’t,” he told the crowd. “It should be easier.”
While you may not have the salary of the celebrities on this list, you can still learn from their experiences. All of them struggled with student loans and managed their debt differently. While some still have not paid them off, others scrimped and saved to pay them off before they even made it big.
And it’s not only celebrity stories that can inspire you. Read here to learn about one man who paid off his student loans in two years, and then began doing it again.
Diligently applying even small amounts to your loan balance can help you pay your debt off faster and save money in interest. For more information on different strategies of paying off your loans, learn about the debt avalanche and debt snowball methods.
Rebecca Stropoli contributed to this report
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|2.49% – 11.72%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.30%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|4.13% – 7.39%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.99%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.99%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.24% – 8.24%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.48% – 7.98%||Undergrad |
|1.74% – 7.99%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.69% – 9.92%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 6, 2022.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $9 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 09/09/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 4.13% APR – 7.39% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR – 9.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
4 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 3.99% – 8.74% APR (3.74% – 8.49% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.74% APR to 8.24% APR (2.49% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.
5 Important Disclosures for Navient.
6 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 3.24% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
7 Important Disclosures for Purefy.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing Rate and Terms Disclosure: Annual Percentage Rates (APR) ranges and examples are based on information provided to Purefy by lenders participating in Purefy’s rate comparison platform. For student loan refinancing, the participating lenders offer fixed rates ranging from 2.73% – 7.99% APR, and variable rates ranging from 1.74% – 7.99% APR. The maximum variable rate is 25.00%. Your interest rate will be based on the lender’s requirements. In most cases, lenders determine the interest rates based on your credit score, degree type and other credit and financial criteria. Only borrowers with excellent credit and meeting other lender criteria will qualify for the lowest rate available. Rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Terms and conditions apply.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.
Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%-9.92% (3.69%-9.92% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49%-10.11% (4.49%-10.11% APR).
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 6.39%- 9.60% (6.39% – 9.60% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.58% – 9.79% (6.58% – 9.79% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).
Education Refinance Loan for Parents Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%- 9.09% (3.69%- 9.09% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.28% (4.49% – 9.28% APR).
Medical Residency Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).