Well, I did it. I logged into my SallieMae account (I had to create a new password, it had been so long). The amount I owe on my student loan is just a bit more than I had anticipated. My indebtedness to the U.S. government is:
In fact, if I were to make the 'required' $437.33 payment for the next 21 years, I would end up paying a total of $112,453.65. Which is simply unacceptable. By my rough calculations, I would have to pay almost $400 a month just to cover the interest payments alone (my consolidated interest rate is at 8.25%, which cannot be changed).
So, I'm trying not to cry at this point. I know, deep down, that this is just going to take a degree of creativity (and lots and lots of time), as well as some major changes in terms of my income and my expenditures.
Right after I go out and buy and devour a bar of organic chocolate, I think I need to spend some time searching the blogosphere for those motivating success stories, from 'real people' like me who overcame the odds and paid off similar (and even larger) debts than mine.