It’s another bill people with student loans will have to consider at the end of the month. One they haven’t had to think about for more than three years.

With inflation impacting the prices of good across the market, people are being forced to save more and spend less.

Debt from student loan hangs over the heads of millions of Americans. Now, they have to come up with a plan to keep above water financially.

College graduates are starting to feel the sting of student loan payments after the pandemic-era pause was lifted.

A 28-year-old Penn State Behrend graduate said he has both private and federal loans.

He told us he’s been diligent on keeping up with his private loans, but now that payments on federal loans are unfrozen, he says he and his wife will be living on a much stricter budget.

“We already started tightening the budget again. Really restricting how many times we’re going out to eat, or if we have food around the house, we’re really making sure that we make the most of every dollar and just cutting back all around,” said Jim Murray, Penn State Behrend alumni.

Murray said he’s also canceling subscription services he doesn’t need as well as gym memberships for he and his wife.

But beyond material purchases, experts say student loan debt can be a deciding factor in how people move forward with their lives.

“It really kind of changes people’s entire perception on life goals. Whether they’re going to have children or not, whether they even want to go to school in the first place,” said Amber Schultz, vice-chair, growth and success, Young Erie Professionals.

Schultz specializes in navigating public service loan forgiveness and federal student aid. She’s helped $5.5 million of debt be forgiven for graduates.

“When you graduated, say 20-30 years ago, a graduate’s net worth at the time when they walked across the stage was about $30,000. The same graduate that walks across the stage today, their net worth is negative $16,000,” said Schultz.

And that wealth disparity continues to grow. It even makes graduates question whether college is worth being buried in all that debt.

Murray mentioned the idea that people had to go to college to be successful is outdated, but it worked for him despite the bill that’s now coming due.

“It was ‘you’ve got to go to college or you’re going to be working at McDonald’s for the rest of your life’ and that’s not the key at all. College is just one avenue, and at least going into college I was fortunate enough to have parents who impressed on me how substantial these loans were going to be,” said Murray.

Schultz noted there are repayment plans out there that can help some students, but finding the tools to success can be challenging and time consuming.