According to the latest statistics from the Federal Reserve, consumer debt is still on the rise in America, even after reaching nearly $3.4 trillion in May of 2015. And while many would have let those figures, along with the growing student loan debt, beat them, Americans are more determined than ever to press forward.
One such American is NYU senior Eric Hu, who has been battling his $200,000 debt while still in school.
Hu attends New York University which, like most private colleges, has a hefty price tag. The university costs some $50,000 a year just for tuition and fees, with another $17,600 in room and board. Add on books and other expenses, and students can expect to have to pay around $72,000 a year.
For the typical degree, which is acquired over the course of four years, that could mean nearly $300,000 in student loan debt. But Hu has been able to fight it down and has already paid his tuition every year since his freshman year, at $50,000 each bill.
And he’s on track to pay his fourth year, too.
The senior told CNBC News how he’s been able to make such large payments on his loans using scholarships and money-making opportunities as a freelancer.
Hu has been receiving a lot of scholarships since his freshman year, an amount that increased by the time he was a senior, totaling to about $14,000 a year in scholarships.
Not only that, but Hu also works a great deal on the side. He started with six jobs as a freshman, using the WayUp program, which helps place college students in jobs and internships. He also did a work study and freelance photography. It totaled between 20 and 40 hours a week and earned him enough to pay his freshman tuition.
However, lately, he decided to change the way he approached his working, cutting down on a number of jobs he had, but earning more. Now, Hu spends 20 hours a week as a business consultant for Deloitte Digital and 40 hours as a freelance strategist.
“I saw all the work and experience I had gathered during freshman year and decided I could do something greater with it, so I built my own marketing-consulting business around it, where I’ll go around and pitch my capabilities, which range from design and strategy to social media marketing, to new businesses around New York City. I’ve found that owning your own business, instead of working in the service of others, takes a lot more time to pitch, but in the end, it’s more efficient in terms of money versus time.”
Hu is expected to graduate with no debt after his senior year, and with plenty of experience in his field. His story shows that, even with mounting consumer and student loan debt, it is possible to fight your way out.