Atlas, to tell the truth, cannot shrug. The weight of the the heavens is far too heavy. His burden remains. And for many an MBA grad, the burden of student debt can recall the fate of the mythological titan.
But Dartmouth College Tuck MBA Phil DeGisi shrugged off $150,000 in MBA debt in five years. How did he unburden himself of such a heavy weight? He must have refinanced, right? Nope. DeGisi graduated in 2009, before the advent of companies such as CommonBond and SoFi that specialize in converting high-interest student loans into more manageable, lower-rate debt. While DeGisi had subsidized loans from Dartmouth at around 6% interest, he also had Plus loans from the federal government at 8%.
Then DeGisi must have gone into a ridiculously high-paying job in an investment bank or a major consulting firm, no? No. He’d leveraged an internship at Wal-Mart.com into a job as a marketing and business product manager for the company, in San Francisco, then moved after 21 months to Quidsi, the parent company of e-commerce sites including Diapers.com and Wag.com; he helped launch the latter, as associate director, then was promoted to director of merchandising, and ultimately became director of marketing. DeGisi describes his income as about average for an MBA who doesn’t go into the most lucrative fields and positions.
However, DeGisi’s debt load was nearly triple what U.S. News has reported as the typical burden for a 2014 MBA graduate, of $56,000.
HUGE DEBT DOESN’T FIT WITH LIFE PLAN
The Tuckie was planning to marry. He knew he’d want to buy a home to settle into with his new wife. He was living in San Francisco, where even back before rents went stratospheric, they were still extremely high. He wanted to pay off his debt, and pay it off fast. But he didn’t leap straight into aggressive repayment, in fact he took advantage of his grace period, which allowed him to start repayment in the fall after spring graduation, and in that time he completed his debt-elimination plan.
“When you come out of school you’re coming out of en environment where most people are not opting to make payments during school,” says DeGisi, 35. “You’re moving back to, for lack of a better word, the real world, where you have rent, you have parking expenses, but you also have an income. I wanted to get a handle on my monthly expenses and just feel comfortable that I had my budget correct.”
Key budgetary elements for the newly minted MBA, working and living in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities on earth, were rent and parking costs.
Then I said, ‘OK, now I’m comfortable with this, I see how much cash I have and disposable income. Now I know how much I can afford to pay each month in pre-pay.’”