Student Loan Problems


I graduated from the University of Toronto seven years ago. I studied hard (and partied a bit) and graduated with a psychology degree. But, I still owe a lot of money on my student loans – over $20,000. Even though I have a full-time job now, it was a struggle to find steady employment since graduation so I haven’t been able to pay down my debt. I feel like this student debt is going to follow me around for the rest of my life…can you give me some advice?

Karen C.
Oshawa, Ontario


Student Debt is a serious problem in this country as more and more students are graduating with increasingly large debt loads. Couple that with the difficulty many young people are having finding a job and making those debt payments can be a difficult task.

I’ve heard a lot of young people wonder if going to university or college was even worth it as they struggle to get by. They wonder – what happened to the promise of getting a degree, finding job, buying a house, raising a family and enjoying life?

But, even though you may have similar doubts, study after study shows that university graduates will be more financially successful than their less educated peers. So, be confident that things will get better and, in the meantime, let’s talk about some ways you can start attacking that loan and getting yourself out of debt.

Here are my tips —

  • Direct payment – Considering that you are working now, you can set up an automatic payment that comes straight out of your account each month. This system will keep you on track and eliminate any missed or late payments. When you figure out your monthly budget (you should be making a monthly budget!!), figure out how much you can afford to pay back each month. Increasing your payments, either every month or just once in while, can significantly decrease the amount of time until you pay off the loan and the total amount of interest you’ll have to pay.
  • Avoid other debt – Tackling a student loan is one thing, but if you are also dealing with a car loan and/or other credit card debt, it can be an impossible task. Therefore, make an effort to avoid using debt to live while you are paying back your student debt. Avoiding debt is something that needs to become a habit and a hobby. Leave your credit cards at home and spend only what you have to. You may not be able to join your friends on an impromptu trip to Costa Rica, but you’ll be taking your journey to debt freedom.
  • Ask for help – If you are unable to follow the repayment schedule and adhere to the terms of your loan, you may be able to revise the terms of your loan. You can visit this site to learn more about the revision options available. But if you are still having serious problems paying back your loan, there may be another option for you offered through the Repayment Assistance Plan. You can learn more about that by clicking here.

Jeffrey Schwartz
Executive Director

Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT).

If you have a question about a debt management program or just about finance in general, Jeff is here to help. Send us an email with your question to [email protected]. You’ll get the expert advice you need and your question may be featured here on our website.