Lions’ All-Pro Jamal Agnew is counting on his checks more than most due to his student loan debt. 

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — On the 19th of every month, Jamal Agnew

Sure enough, he checks his bank account later in the day and sees the automatic withdrawal. The Detroit Lions

Yes, the 24-year-old has more money than most of his peers who are two years out of college and in the workforce. Agnew still understands the feeling of at least some of your paycheck is disappearing to pay off your education, part of what Forbes reported is $1.5 trillion of total student debt in the United States.

Unlike many, he could have erased his debt quickly. But, after having no credit cards in college and living at home the final three years of school, he saw spacing out his loan payments as a way to build credit. Before he left , he registered with Nelnet, the student loan servicing company based in Lincoln, Nebraska, to handle his automatic payments.

A decade before Agnew played for , Lions quarterback Josh Johnson was in a similar situation. He took out a loan with private student loan giant Sallie Mae to keep his mother from dealing with the debt of paying for his college education.

He started talking with his college teammates, most of whom were saddled with similar student loan debt but without a semi-lucrative contract — even as a fifth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As he began to pay debt off and did more research, it changed how he viewed college.

He was cut — starting an odyssey that spanned 15 teams in three football leagues, never totally knowing when his next football paycheck was coming and how long it would last. It altered his payment strategy, too.

When he signed with the Giants in 2016 with a base salary of $885,000, he felt he was in a stable enough situation he could finally pay off his debt a little later than he planned and it made him realize — perhaps earlier than most — the realities of paychecks in the NFL and the importance of setting up your future. There was no celebration when the last student loan check was paid. At that point, it was just another bill.

He also laughs because, like everyone else with student loans (and even some without), Agnew is subject to robocalls and fraudulent calls about refinancing them.

It goes back to his wants and his needs. Sure, there are 10 things he wants right now. Just those are not things he needs. And whenever he gets tempted, he has that reminder that shows up. As expected. On the 19th of every month.


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