When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

In college, my mother cosigned $82,000 of my private and federal student loans. At the time, none of us really knew what we were getting into.

My family moved to the United States from the Philippines in 2003. When I started college in 2010, my parents were just getting used to our new financial stability. My mom signed my student loans because she has always supported all of my creative endeavors.

Eight years after graduating, my private student loans alone are costing me $670 a month, most of it going to interest. To be fair, I didn’t make payments consistently over the eight years. It’s only in the last year and a half, during the federal student loan repayment hiatus, that I’ve been able to afford the minimum monthly payments.

After rebuilding my credit, I am finally eligible to refinance my $64,000 private student loans. While refinancing federal student loans means losing any future chance of getting federal student loan forgiveness, I am refinancing private loans: they will remain private and still not eligible for forgiveness.

Here are three productive and healing conversations I had with my mom as I weighed my options.

First, I talked to her about math.

My mom is great at math, after all, she’s a data analyst who studied statistics in college, but I felt like I had to tackle this on my own. I opened applications with SoFi and Laurel Road to compare my interest rates and terms to what I am currently paying and to calculate how much I would be paying until the end of the loan.

Please note that these numbers below are for me and my specific loans – different borrowers will likely get different numbers.

Knowing that I could save up to $84,000 over the life of the loan by refinancing was a huge wake-up call for me. In addition to paying a lower interest rate and shortening the length of the loan, an added benefit is that it would free up my mother as co-signer.

My mom encouraged me to choose the most realistic payment plan

For the last year, my mom has been helping me pay off $230 each month toward my student loans so I can afford the monthly payments.

Although the math clearly shows that I would save between $15,000 and $20,000 over the life of the loan if I chose a shorter repayment plan, my mom encouraged me to choose the 20-year refinance with Laurel Road because it was as close to what I can currently afford. .

He told me to pick the most manageable monthly payment amount so I wouldn’t be intimidated. He also encouraged me to add more to the minimum payment if I had extra money each month.

I’m berating myself for not having this conversation with her 12 years ago when I signed my student loans, but I no longer want to judge my past decisions with today’s knowledge. It’s unfair and unkind to my younger self to think that way.

We talked about what it means to remove her as a co-signer

During our conversation, my mom kept saying, “So get marry be paying less money. Get marry get a lower interest rate.” I asked, “Why do you keep saying us? The point of the refinancing is that his name would be off the loans.”

My mom replied, “I’m emotionally attached to this because I know the quality of your life will be a lot different when these student loans go away.” When I read her the full amount we would have paid had we kept our current repayment terms, my mom and I agreed that the student loan system is predatory.

“If I had the money back then,” he told me, “if all parents had the money, we’d just send you to school. It shouldn’t have cost that much. It shouldn’t have been that expensive to support your kids.” , and that they can do whatever they want in life.