Forgive Student Loan Debt!

I don’t know about you, but I have debt.

Car loan debt, credit card debt, and school loan debt.

The car is almost paid off and I’m two years into a four year plan of paying off my credit card debt.
My school loan debt, on the other hand, has a few years to go. I’m one of the lucky ones though. I have roughly $10,000 left to pay on my school loan. The average college graduate owes $24,000. I know people who owe $40,000, $60,000, $80,000 and up and can’t find work OR or are stuck in a job they don’t like but can’t afford to leave.

One of my favorite reads is Huffington Post’s ongoing “Majoring in College Debt” series where they encourage readers to discuss how much college debt they’re in. Some of the stories are downright frightening- students owing over $200,000, making coffee shop wages, or being harassed by their lenders. One man shared his story of owing over $250,00 for medical school and the great lengths his lender went to try and f*ck him over. While he was working his residency his lender labeled his as a graduate and demanded he start paying back his loan. He tried to explain that they were wrong, but no one would listen. They threatened him with everything they could. It wasn’t until he went to the media that the lender finally listened.

Stories like these scare me. How do they expect people to afford school? How do they expect people to want to go to school knowing that they will have a dark money cloud constantly hanging above them? I’ve thought about going back to school myself, but the idea of taking out more loans is not appealing to me. I make just enough to pay my bills now, why would I want to add to that? Have you gone back to school as an adult while working full-time? How did it work for you? Was it worth it?

Student loan debt is a burden that many of us have and we are often prisoner to it. If I didn’t have my college loan debt and all it’s interest to pay each month I would be ten times more likely not to be a tight wad.

Currently a petition created by MoveOn’s Robert Applebaum is going around calling for Congress to forgive college debt. It explains that by forgiving college debt, consumer spending would go up and we all know how scared everyone is to spend right now- me included. Maybe this is just the shot in the arm we need to get out of this terrible recession. The petition currently has 423,492 and his growing. Democratic Michigan Rep. Hansen Clark has decided to take this action on. Who knows how far this will get, but it never hurts to try, right?

Do you think forgiving student loan debt will help the economy?

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  • Reply Amanda September 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    if I didn't have credit card debt I'd spend tons of money – except I'd actually have it to spend this time around – unlike last time – which is how I got the debt – and now all the money I finally earn goes to paying it off, but mostly just paying the interest. No shopping from me for about 4 years.

    I think American Express is tanking the economy for that reason 🙂

    • Reply attia October 15, 2011 at 12:15 am

      Under unfortunate circumstances, it’s ironic that I’m comforted knowing I’m not the only one.

      I was forced to take time off of school about 3 years ago because I was no longer able to take out any more loans/pay for tuition. Being 30 hours short of graduation, this was heartbreaking. I worked odd jobs here and there until I joined AmeriCorps to guarantee an income and to receive an “education award” (money to use towards tuition or past loans) at the end of my service term.

      Fortunately, AmeriCorps has helped me gain experience to qualify as a teachers assistant. However, this job hardly pays the bills let alone an $800 towards student loans. Since it’s almost impossible to pay, my student loans have now been sent to collections. *YAY!!*

      I’ve definitely taken the back roads to get somewhere decent in this rat race, but It hurts knowing money forced me out of school and keeps me from returning.

  • Reply KeLLy aNN September 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    One of my favorite rants! I'm 36 hours from getting my Bachelor of Fine Arts. When I stopped going to school ten years ago due to a high risk pregnancy, I had $23,000 in debt. I lived off my student loans ~ rent, books, art supplies} because I was a single mom and no child support. This was in the 90s at LSU. That debt has now accumulated to $54 thousand. I'm a stay at home mom and my hubs is a Cop. There is no way I can pay $400 dollars a month {to START} to get this taken care of. And with everything the way it is, I can't even afford $50 right now. We are in the process of paying of 3 cc at about 2500/2700. At the same time trying to fix our house. I think it's a shame that if you go to your home states State College, that you should even have to pay, but at the very least, you shouldn't have to take out Student Loans to attend! The way things are going, the lenders would have to accept payment of original amount, or I will have to prove to the court that I truly am, a Starving Artist.

  • Reply allie o'bannon September 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    This is exactly what's making going back to school so hard for me. I want to get my masters but I'm already in a stupid amount of student loan debt & barely making enough as it is.

  • Reply KeLLy aNN September 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    oh, and I do plan on finishing up my education, because I really am close.
    But unfortunately, the plan to pay out of pocket has almost become unattainable due to RISE IN TUITION!
    and I refuse to take out any more loans. So, we wait….and wait…and..

  • Reply FENNOfashion September 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Student loans hurt! I owe around 60k but my husband owes over 80k!! While we do have good jobs because of our education, it is still really painful to watch our money fly out of bank account into the hands of these student loan companies. 🙁

  • Reply Anonymous September 28, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I went to college, I had loans, I paid them off, I don't love my low-paying job, it was a total pain the ass. BUT. I owed it. I knew what college was going to cost going in. If people are allowed to default on their college loans, no one will lend to students anymore, and professors and secretaries and student teachers don't work for free. Nor should they. Sorry to be the buzzkill, but where does it end? My mortgage is paid off too because I can't afford it? My car? My credit card debt?

  • Reply Katie September 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Hmmm, interesting question. I CHOSE to go back to school and pursue a 2nd degree. I will admit I did NOT do all the research necessary to know what a degree in Interior Design would entail. I wiped out my savings when it was all said and done and racked up a minor student loan as well as cc debt. With all of that said, I don't regret this decision, nor do I think my debt should be wiped out by anyone other than me. I've been in the working world long enough that I didn't necessarily need another degree.

    I think one of the challenges I noticed while back in school as an adult is so many young kids clueless on how to manage money, taking out student loans and driving a BMW…I think that's where our country fails in teaching us how to live within our means and really explaining what a student loan is.

  • Reply sognodisonno September 28, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I love the idea of student debt being forgiven, but recognize that it's probably unrealistic. That said, I think some sort of program that makes it possible to re-finance or otherwise lower the amount of interest owed absolutely should be considered.

    Student debt is a considerable burden on the options and spending habits of such a huge portion of our population, particularly those in their 20's and 30's. I'm certain every person I know currently saddled with student loans would start spending more if their payments were decreased. It would open up the possibility to start really working towards possible future house payments, retirement savings, investment, etc. Due to the economy, our earning potential is lower than the generations that came before us and due to trends in education costs, our debt tends to be higher.

    To Anonymous: I absolutely recognized that I borrowed money to get something I wanted and that money is owed back. What I didn't understand and what really irks about the situation is just how high the interest is. The interest on my loans when I started paying them was roughly equal to the amount of the loans themselves. Do you really think Sallie Mae deserves to make 100% profit for their minor role in helping me get an education? Especially when they've already been subsidized by taxes?

  • Reply Lacey R. September 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Maybe we should start at the other end? Should it be so easy to get loan money in the first place? Maybe we should focus on finding more money for grants and scholarships versus forgiving loan debt. That won't help the current generation of student loan debters, but it's a start.

  • Reply Tara September 29, 2011 at 12:15 am

    My parents opted not to save one thin dime for mine or my brother's educations. My brother was lucky and had most of his education paid for by Pell Grants, scholarships and the military. I, on the other hand, had to borrow, and borrow, and borrow some more. It took me 5 years to get my BA in history. A degree in history practically necessitates a graduate degree so I went straight into grad school. It took 4 years to get my MA in space & exploration studies…which I had to borrow to get. Shortly after getting my MA, my husband joined the military. A career in the space industry is not all that portable so I went back to school to get my teaching certificate…more to borrow. All in all, I've incurred over $125,000 in student debt. This is on top of what's left of my husband's law school debt that the Army didn't pay off. I have two degrees, multiple teaching certifications and can't get a teaching job in the state of Texas because all they're doing is firing instead of hiring.

    As soon as we had our daughter I swore that she would not have to deal with student debt. We will save, & work our fingers to the bone to make sure she doesn't have to borrow a dime.

  • Reply tennysoneehemingway September 29, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Hmmmm, I always find it most amusing that the politicians who are most against free education are the ones who have gone through university before the abolition of free education. Yes, it wasn't all that long ago in this country that university was paid for by the government. As it should be. It's what we pay fucking taxes for. Roads, health, education. Get on it Parliment!!!

  • Reply Hipstercrite September 29, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments. I love that you shared your stories. You all have wonderful points. I'm not articulate enough to respond to each of them with my thoughts, but check out this link to get an idea of the great conversation this has created: http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/09/20/forgiving-student-loans-worst-stimulus-idea-ever/tab/comments/

  • Reply Big Mark 243 September 29, 2011 at 4:15 am

    These were fantastic comments… Lauren, they should offer you a talk show… WHY DON'T YOU SHOP THE IDEA..? Maybe I will draw up an abstract and you and your beau can run with it..!

  • Reply Barbara September 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    My student loan debt is definitely a burden. I pay $500 every month and I hate the thought of writing that check each month. I'm not sure forgiving the debt is the answer though. Maybe making college more affordable and making it harder to get all these loans is the way to go.

  • Reply Steph September 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    When you get student loans, you know you have to pay them off eventually. If you can't manage your money, oh well, live and learn.
    I do think so many students being in debt is a big problem, but there are better ways to deal with it than simply forgiving the debts.
    How about making schools cheaper? So many of the fees, and especially textbook prices, are ridiculous. If we could actually afford school, then fewer loans would be taken out.
    Or what about a higher minimum wage for students? The minimum wage as it is barely covers the cost of living, so maybe a few cents more per hour would be enough to allow students to pay off part of their loan and have enough money to eat.

  • Reply bard September 30, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Without getting into the details of my personal student loan debt, I'll just say that I am completely down with this concept.

    Yes, it would be a huge relief to be free of this debt by itself, but I can guarantee that it would significantly encourage me to "re-invest" my available funds to the economy….

  • Reply nova October 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Um, yes. I pay over a third of my earnings towards my student loans…and a third of that? Just covers the interest.

    They just wrote me to tell me I “only” have 120 months worth of payments to make. Um…yay?

  • Reply Kim November 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I’m closer to 30 than 20 and about a year away from finishing up my degree. I went to school for two years upon graduating and owe a ridiculous amount from then. I left to take a year off and due to some major life issues it turned into way longer.
    I’m terrified to graduate because I don’t want to pay back my loans because I know that if I don’t find a better paying job, I won’t be able to easily afford it without a second. I’ve spent the last few years working full-time, going to school full-time, and raising my child. I just want sleep and free time, not two jobs, even if one is only part-time. Sometimes I think about grad school just to delay the repayments for a little bit longer. At least then I would be doing something useful with my busy time.

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