Florida couple paid off $190,000 in student loan debt in 27 months: ‘Get on a budget’

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Student loan debt is a hot topic right now among millions of Americans.

The Biden administration recently announced it would write off outstanding student debt for anyone attending schools operated by Corinthian Colleges, formerly one of the largest for-profit education companies.

The administration also floated the idea of ​​canceling other student debt.

But people who have worked hard and played by the rules to live debt-free have their own thoughts on the idea of ​​student loan forgiveness.

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Florida resident Sherman Merricks thought his college debt was a burden he would never get rid of, but he finally did. In an interview with Fox News Digital, he talked about his total debt of $203,000, which came mostly from student loans.

“I really had no financial plan to go to college,” he said.

Sherman Merricks had a total debt of over $200,000, of which nearly $190,000 came from student loans. (Merricks family)

He said he assumed he would “go to college and figure it out when I [got] the. They make it pretty easy for you to take out all those student loans at 18,” he added.

Merricks earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from a private university before continuing her education and earning her master’s degree in biomedical science.

Merricks, a small business owner, said he pays at least $300 a month on his loans and expects to continue paying that for the rest of his life.

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On top of nearly $190,000 in student loan debt, Merricks and his family added another debt by buying a vehicle, though they paid it off fairly quickly, they said.

Cristina and Sherman Merricks of Gainesville, Florida own two small businesses: a CrossFit gym and a commercial marketing company.  (Noah Avery Photography)

Cristina and Sherman Merricks of Gainesville, Florida own two small businesses: a CrossFit gym and a commercial marketing company. (Noah Avery Photography)

Merricks and his wife, Cristina, have owned and operated a CrossFit gym in Gainesville, Florida for about 10 years.

To try to boost their income, they also opened a sales marketing business just months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. “We started the second business and it took off,” he said. -he declares.

The family set a tight and strict budget – saving everything they could.

Merricks said it was what made him believe that one day he could repay his loans in full.

With interest rate hikes on hold for student loans amid the coronavirus pandemic, Merricks said it was all about paying down debt. The family set a tight and strict budget, saving everything they could.

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The couple also took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course early in their marriage – which they credit with their newfound understanding of debt and how to get rid of it.

Cristina and Sherman Merricks paid off $203,000 in debt by doubling their income and doubling their payments.  (Merricks family)

Cristina and Sherman Merricks paid off $203,000 in debt by doubling their income and doubling their payments. (Merricks family)

Megan McConnell, senior public relations manager for Ramsey Solutions, said the course gives step-by-step advice on how to pay off debt.

It also teaches people how to save for emergencies and for the future while building wealth.

With every $1,000 the couple paid, the kids filled in a space on a board at home.

“I’m a driven, driven person, so I could see the student loan balance go down,” Merricks said.

“I hadn’t seen the number go down in ages. That was a big motivation for me.”

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The couple even involved their three children – Kayden (14), Ariana (11) and Judah (8) – in the project.

With every $1,000 paid, the kids filled in a space on their board at home.

Merricks said it helped children understand why “no” was sometimes their parents’ response when children asked for things; the process also showed children how to set and achieve a goal.

The family created a chart for the children to mark each time a $1,000 payment was made.  (Merricks family)

The family created a chart for the children to mark each time a $1,000 payment was made. (Merricks family)

In just 27 months, the couple said they paid off $203,000 in debt.

They give credence to their faith – and believe they have been extremely blessed during this time.

“I really feel like it was just the Lord’s blessing. He was just blessing our business,” Cristina Merricks said.

The family of five lives in Gainesville, Fla.;  Sherman and Cristina Merricks are pictured with their children (left to right): Kayden, Ariana and Judah.  (Noah Avery Photography)

The family of five lives in Gainesville, Fla.; Sherman and Cristina Merricks are pictured with their children (left to right): Kayden, Ariana and Judah. (Noah Avery Photography)

When asked if they would do anything differently, the couple answered with a firm “no”.

For those in the same situation as them, the couple recommends keeping a strict budget and finding ways to increase family income.

Sherman Merricks believes that if the government chooses to forgive student loans, taxpayers will pay.

As for the conversations these days about the potential for a large student loan forgiveness from the Biden administration, Sherman Merricks thinks that’s just lip service.

“The government is going to lose too much money, and we know the government is not going to lose money,” he said.

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Merricks thinks that if the government chooses to cancel student loans, American taxpayers will end up paying.

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