How This Woman Saved $515 a Month on Her Student Loans (and Got Her Life Back)

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016.

Katie Ulrickson is a hard-working pediatric critical care nurse in Austin, Texas.

After saving lives all day, the last thing she needed to worry about when she got home was student loans.

But she couldn’t help it: She had $100,000 to pay back, and seven monthly payments to keep track of.

“It was very stressful, and it was probably the biggest thing I worried about,” she says. “Instead of worrying about being a good nurse, it was one thing I could never catch up with.”

She was drowning…

Until she found a way to cut her bills in half, and her monthly payments down to one.

Not only did she reduce her biggest source of stress — she’s also going to save a ton of money in the end.

Here’s her story…

“I Was Ready to Give Up”

After growing up in Montana, Ulrickson decided to attend Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

As a first-generation college graduate, neither Ulrickson nor her parents understood the financial consequences of attending a private university.

“At the time, I didn’t really realize the cost of schooling,” she says. “It’s like the banks were very willing to give me the loans, but I never really thought about having to pay them back at the time, you know?”

Since she switched majors halfway through, she ended up attending college for six years.

“I grew up in a middle- to low-income family…. I paid for school all [on] my own,” she explains. “My parents didn’t take out any loans to help me.”

So when she graduated in 2011, she had over $100,000 in loans — with payments due on seven different days of the month.

She soon found a good nursing job, but it was still too much to handle.

“It got to a point where it was overwhelming, like I just couldn’t keep up,” she says. “I kept getting late fees. I could barely make my payments, could barely live off what I had left… I was ready to give up constantly.”

But, instead, she found another solution…

How She Saved $515 a Month — and Her Mental Health

One day, Ulrickson came across an article on The Penny Hoarder.

It literally changed her life.

“I was looking through ways to refinance your loans, and I read about CommonBond,” she says.

She used the website to refinance her student loans, dropping her monthly payments from $1,200 to $685 — a savings of $515 a month.

Ulrickson also went from paying seven monthly bills to just one, a change that’s led to serious mental health benefits.

“It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders in terms of being able to manage my money,” she says. “My whole experience has changed. I had a lot of anxiety and had a really hard time managing everything before, and now I feel so much more confident in myself.

Finally, she has the time and mental space she needs (and deserves!) to enjoy life.

“I’ve got more time to spend with my family and my dog,” she says, “instead of having to worry about picking up extra shifts so I can make sure I’ve got the money in the bank.”

Thinking About Refinancing Your Student Loans?

If you feel overwhelmed by your student loans, refinancing might be a good option.

“CommonBond simplified the idea of paying back my student loans,” Ulrickson says. “For anyone who feels overwhelmed, I feel like they really guide you through.”

For her, this step-by-step guidance was essential.

“I really appreciated how individualized it was,” she says. “I just like the fact they reach out and actually want to get to know you, which feels good.”

Another unique feature?

CommonBond’s Social Promise: For every loan funded by the company, it funds the education of a student in need in Ghana.

This was also important to Ulrickson.

“They’re giving back with what they’re doing, and it’s helping a wide array of people,” she explains.

Want to learn more about refinancing your student loans? Click here to see if CommonBond is a good fit for you.


The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.