Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Shackled by Debt"

My blog title comes from the first picture in the Huffington Post article, “Obama Administration, House Dems Push to Prevent Student Loan Rate Hike”. The picture embodies what many students already feel—that they are unable to envision a positive and prosperous future thanks to the overwhelming student debt they have. This article (found here), reports that Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) are working to prevent the doubling of the Federal Direct Stafford Loan rate from 3.4% to 6.8% come July 1, 2012.

Opponents to the rate freeze argue that by not raising the student loan interest rate, it would cost tax payers close to $6 billion.

Sadly, I am a card-carrying member of the “Shackled by Debt” Club—a dubious honor I wish I never had; hence why this topic makes me so angry and disillusioned. When I was a junior in high school, my mom took me to every college fair in our area. She pushed me to pick the college that had the perfect fit for my social and academic needs, rather than on the price tag. Like all parents in the late 1990s, she assured me that a quality college education would be worth it in the long run. So what did I do? I got a Masters in Education—at times like these, I wish I had been an accountant instead.

Now, in a position to counsel students on which career path they should take, it is hard for me not to tell them to choose the major with the most earning potential. It pains me to ignore my liberal arts education background or the passion I have for developing well-rounded students, and push for a job that will make rent, a family, and a new car possible.

What happened to our country? What happened to the generation that was told to do “what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place”? What happened to the prosperous United States that had a highly educated work force? I’ll tell you what happened to it—greed became more important than providing a future for the next generation. Who cares about the hundreds of thousands of college graduates who cannot afford to move out of their parents’ house because their student loan bill is more than their car payment!

Even with rent and utilities paid for, I can barely make my $500 a month student loan payment along with my other expenses, which do not include the occasional contribution to a pathetically small savings account. Thanks America for forcing the mantra “education is the key to a bright future” and then abandoning us when we graduate.


  1. If you are planning to stay in higher ed you may want to look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Most colleges and university employees qualify. After 120 payments (10 years) the remainder of your loan is forgiven without tax liability. If you qualify for income-based repayment it is totally worth it. I wish I had known about this in 2007 when it started, I'd be halfway done paying my loans by now!

  2. Thank you very much for this! I had heard about it in passing; however, had not looked into it. This may be the kick in the pants that I need to research :) Good luck with your student loans as well!

  3. That program is not valid in all states. States can opt out of that.

  4. I struggle with many of the same issues. I've worked in many different areas on campus - not just Res Life, but Career Services, University Welcome Center, and even a summer stint in Upward Bound. I've always been a huge proponent of telling students to do what they love and let the rest follow, but it gets more difficult to do so with each year. It's a crisis of conscience. How do I support one of my strongest values while dealing with the harsh realities of student loans? And if the interest rates double...well, it only gets worse from here.

    I believe that politicians ignore college students because they don't tend to be very politically motivated. The older and wiser generations vote and research and get involved, so the powers that be cater to them first. College students? They're the deer in the middle of the road. They stand there, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, until the truck hits them. And the lawmakers know this. That's why they won't fight for students...because most of them won't fight for themselves.

    I had a series I started, but it fell by the wayside (will pick it back up within a week or so). You might be interested by the topic: Myself and some students traveled to our state capital to fight cuts against PA higher ed.


  5. I'll definitely check out your project--it sounds interesting. I wish that more young people would take an active role in politics. I think that they did when Obama was elected. It was inspirational to see how they mobilized for his campaign.

    I love the deer in headlights reference! Hopefully, they'll figure out they need to move out of the way in order to make a difference. Thanks for posting!