I was really hoping to avoid talking about Occupy Wall Street again. I gave insights in to my stance on the movement last week and didn’t feel as though more needed to be said. That was until yesterday when I read this story on the Huffington Post…
While the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow and spread, there is no common call to action. I propose that the first call to action to help ease the economic stress of Americans is to forgive student loan debt. What do you say?
I say, “You sir are an idiot.”
I need not remind you (readers) that I graduated college with $28,000 in student loan debt in 2007. According to Huff Post that’s $4,000 more than the national average in 2009. So before you start accusing me of being part of the 1% let’s get a few things straight. 1) I’m not. 2) My parents aren’t either. Glad we got that settled.
Let’s talk about my story. I knew full well when I signed up to go to a private school that it was about three times more expensive than a local university would have been. I also knew that I would have to take out student loans to be able to go to said private school. I didn’t really think about the repercussions of taking on debt and gladly signed my life away. These are the facts as I see them.
To be perfectly honest, I was shocked to see the total balance of my student loans upon graduation. Twenty eight thousand dollars is a big scary number, especially when you have no employment lined up. I did what most grads do, I consolidated my loans and deferred them for six months.
What I didn’t do was complain that the college tricked me in to signing up for the debt. And I didn’t expect my Alma Mater to find me gainful employment upon graduation. I knew I got myself in the mess, and I was the only person that could get myself out. I accepted responsibility for my ignorant actions.
So guess what I did? I got a job and started making my minimum payments. I then got a second job, and a third job, so I could make accelerated payments. After 2.5 years, I was debt free. I didn’t expect the government, big business, my college, Sallie Mae, my parents, or you, to pay off the loan I voluntarily signed up for. I accepted my situation, and worked my a$$ off to improve it. Sending off that last payment was incredible.
Do you know how frustrating it is to work so hard (as I chronicled in many blog posts) to accomplish a goal, only to have it marginalized by a group of people who want the same thing, but aren’t willing to go to the lengths I did to achieve it. I was EXACTLY where you are now, a few years ago. The difference was I didn’t go Occupy Wall Street, I occupied multiple jobs.
If Joe starts eating healthy/exercising more and loses 50 pounds as a result, do I suddenly have a right to demand the local plastic surgeon give me free liposuction so I can have the same results as Joe? Even if I have a genetic makeup that makes it much more difficult for me to lose weight? Fat chance (pun absolutely intended).
I can only think of one situation in which I would entertain the idea of allowing student loans to be bankrupt-able/forgiven: If and only if the individual would relinquish all credits and degrees earned. The worse thing we could do is forgive the debt and let them keep their degrees. Hell, I’d take a few dings on my credit score if it meant I got a “free” degree out of the gig.
Lastly, if you really are pissed off about the whole student loan/cost of college issue, you should probably go protest your college, not Wall Street.
I’ve already paid off my student loans. Don’t force me to pay yours off too. Unleash the hounds.
p.s. Just to make a few things clear. I am not saying the lending practices associated with student loans are great. And I’m not saying the exponentially increasing cost of college is acceptable. I’m all for reforming tuition rates and lending practices. Student loan forgiveness is not reform, it’s a lame solution that doesn’t solve the much more complex problem.