When Kate Dobie graduated from college, she had over $40,000 in student loans. She also graduated at the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, making finding work extremely difficult.
With the economy in ruins, Dobie struggled to find a job that would pay her bills and allow her to keep up with her student loan payments. So in an incredible leap of faith, she made a dramatic decision to manage her debt.
A drastic step to pay down student loans
Dobie decided to move overseas to reduce her expenses, so she packed up the few belongings she could take with her and moved to China.
She took a teaching position working with children, creating lesson plans for 800 children. Since her degree was in Asian studies, it was a way to use her education and make a living doing what she enjoyed.
To the outside observer, Dobie’s teaching salary might seem low. She made about $5,000 renminbi (RMB) a month. Converted to American dollars, that comes out to just $750.
However, the job came with additional benefits. “The school took care of my room and board, and I managed to find freelance tutoring jobs that paid very lucratively,” says Dobie.
With few expenses, she was able to dedicate her salary and her freelance income solely towards debt payments.
Adjusting to a new country
Dobie found adjusting to living in China difficult at first.
“Anyone who has moved to a country with no shared language can probably relate to immediate culture shock. Every sensory experience you encounter in those first days and weeks is new and different,” she explains. “It can be exhausting and exhilarating, grappling with communication barriers and relentless cultural nuances.”
But Dobie persevered. She used technology like Skype and FaceTime to connect with family 10,000 miles away, and she worked hard to immerse herself in the culture. Coincidentally, that also helped keep her expenses down.
“Living expenses can vary. Many teachers wanted to indulge still in Western food, go to movies and pubs, or shop at high-end retail stores,” says Dobie.
“I took the local approach and ate mostly from food stalls or my school canteen. I focused on the goal of eliminating my college loans. I was able to structure my time and budget to make that goal realistic.”
With her living expenses so low, her teaching salary and income from tutoring went right to paying down her debt. That allowed her to pay off her loans ahead of schedule.
“Before moving, I had a few hundred dollars a month deducted towards my debt,” says Dobie. “It would have taken me at least a decade to pay off my loans at that pace.”
In just two years, she was able to eliminate her loans completely. She also saved up enough for a down payment on a home for when she was finished.
Now that she has no student loans and owns a home, Dobie is back in the United States. Her decision to spend two years overseas in China opened up new opportunities for her.
Since she’s debt-free, she was able to launch her own business, Pens+Pals, without stressing about bills. She’s doing what she loves: connecting like-minded people across the globe via old-fashioned letters.
Dobie recommends that others treat their loans as an emergency so that they can pursue what they love later on. It was a huge transition to move across the world, away from all her friends and family, but Dobie knows it was worth it.
“It freed me from the burden of debt,” she says.
For others interested in teaching overseas
One of the most prominent resources is The International Educator (TIE), a nonprofit organization focused on helping international schools all over the globe find qualified teachers.
Whether you are interested in teaching kindergarten students or high-school teenagers, TIE can connect you to hundreds of opportunities. Some of the most common and lucrative opportunities are in South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, and the Gulf Arab States.
Additionally, the US Department of State has resources for those seeking teaching positions abroad and offers warnings and travel advisories about particular areas. The site can provide guidance on what to expect from the culture in specific cities.
For people interested in following in her footsteps and teaching overseas, Dobie recommends doing your research.
“There are heaps of resources,” explains Dobie. “Reach out to alumni of programs and get their feedback from their experiences. And, if you’re goal is to reduce your college debt or increase your savings, be sure to ask them specific questions about salary and external job opportunities.”
While moving 10,000 miles is a big step, it can be a rewarding and enriching way to pay down your loans and build a secure financial future.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.30%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.21%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|