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Irina Feldman




02 Oct 1981

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Published on: 21 Nov 2017 by erina

Guess Who: Celebrities Who Struggled With Student Loans

When you have student loans, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone with your debt. Watching friends live in luxury apartments and eat out every night can make you feel like you’re the only person struggling with loans.

But you are far from alone — even the rich and famous have struggled with student loans. Some celebrities still have student loans today and on top of that, payday loans that they have not paid off.

Find out about celebrities who dealt with student loans and how they managed their debt.

1. President Barack Obama

Becoming President of the United States is not cheap. Barack Obama went to Occidental College, Columbia University, and got his law degree at Harvard Law School.

In a 2013 speech, Obama said he graduated with a mountain of student loan debt. Despite his stellar education, it took years for him to pay off his loans. In fact, he didn’t finish paying back his loans until he was in his 40s, just before he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Obama noted that he should have been saving for his daughters’ educations by that time, but his loans prevented that. And while that must have been a difficult choice, paying down your own debt before saving money for your children is a smart financial decision for the long-term.

2. Cecil Shorts

Cecil Shorts is a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL and was first drafted in 2011.

In 2013, people were shocked when Shorts signed a four-year, $2.6 million contract. Not because of the deal, but because Shorts revealed he was still paying off a large amount of student loan debt.

Unlike many NFL players, Shorts did not get an athletic scholarship in school. Though he worked part-time jobs while he studied physical education, he took out over $70,000 in student loans to pay for his tuition and expenses. As of 2013, he still had about $30,000 left to pay.

Shorts stressed the importance of working while in school to minimize debt. He recalled that while other players would go out, he would work odd jobs like cutting lawns or landscaping to make extra money. That helped prevent him from taking on even more debt.

3. Miles Teller

Miles Teller is an actor who has starred in movies like Fantastic Four and the Divergent series, but he is also still paying six figures of student loan debt from his time at New York University.

He went to school to study acting and racked up $100,000 in loans. In his senior year, he got his break and moved to Los Angeles to film his first movie.

However, despite his success, he still has not paid off his debt. In an interview with Vulture, Teller said his business manager told him that interest on his debt is so low, it makes no sense to pay them off earlier.

While that decision might work for Teller since he has multi-million dollar movie contracts, for most people it makes sense to pay off your debt as quickly as possible.

4. Kate Walsh

While you may know her from the hit show Grey’s Anatomy, Kate Walsh struggled financially early on.

Before beginning her career as a model and actress, she worked at Burger King and Dairy Queen. Later, she attended the University of Arizona.

In an 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. 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,” said Walsh.

Because of her experience with student loans, Walsh campaigned to encourage people to get out and vote in the most recent election. She cited student debt as one of the issues she’s most passionate about.

5. Kerry Washington

If your favorite show is Scandal, take comfort in knowing that Olivia Pope understands your student loan woes. In fact, Kerry Washington didn’t finish paying off her debt until she was cast in that iconic role.

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,” said Washington.

What their stories mean for you

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, some chose to get low interest personal loans, and others scrimped and saved to pay them off before they even made it big.

Diligently applying even small amounts to your loan balance can help you pay your debt off faster and save thousands in interest. 

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