Spring and the Depths of College Debt

Spring is in the air, and that means showers, flowers, and great power— which, (as Spiderman’s uncle says), comes with great responsibility. The power I speak of is the power of choice. It’s time for college students everywhere to decide what to do with the coming school year: stay on course–maintain speed, transfer somewhere with greener grass, backpack through Europe for a year, or just quit school and get a shitty job they can hate for the rest of their lives. My two college aged spawn/offspring/young adults who share my DNA, are doing just that–deciding.

The problem with staying the course is the massive price tag that goes with each course. A year ago at this time I was in full blown panic mode. I believe I was suffering from a condition called- I didn’t think this far ahead when I decided to have babies– it’s fairly common among women my age. I did nothing until the first tuition payment came due. That’s when I finally realized money wasn’t going to fall from the sky. Once I accepted that fact, I refinanced my house, cashed in two of my three 529 college savings plans, (I still have one rudiment in high school), then begged, and borrowed (parents plus loans), all in order to fund my two oldest progenies for one year. 

The good news is we got through a year, and that was the goal. One year at a time- one foot in front of the other, until unfortunately my feet led me to this point in time, this moment that is my life. I have arrived at a bleaker year. Bleaker because I played all my cards last year. I have no cards left. I can’t hemorrhage money I don’t have. 

What we do now is wait and hope for word of any scholarship money, and take out loans, while steering clear of loan sharks like Sally May and Discover. I believe it was Confucius who said: “Be leery of banks that require repayment of $25,000 for every $10,000 borrowed”…or maybe that was me. Those prices were with interest rates at historic lows. They can only increase now that Trump and his banker friends are raising interest rates and cutting restrictions regarding consumer protections. 

I still have organs I can sell to the highest bidder…look for them on eBay.
This is the point where I get angry and expound on the flawed priorities of this great, rich nation, a country not willing to invest in its own youth, the future. The unconscionable idea that the wealthiest country in the world would saddle its youth with insurmountable debt, making it impossible for this generation to become independent, self sufficient adults.

Well, everyone who looks like me is in good company…and by good I mean a good number. We are among over 45 million Americans who hold over $1.3 trillion in student debt, a number that is only increasing. The price of an education and the price of the books one carries are as much to blame as the interest rates and fees charged by banks. Since 1982, college tuition increased by 439 percent, while income increased by 147 percent, according to Best Colleges Online. I don’t think my income has increased 147 percent, but whatever.

So what is at stake here? Self reliance, autonomy, identity, ego, id, and non Freudian things like homeownership, starting families – for the student, and postponing retirement for the parents. It seems my frustrations have not been satisfied with these personal complaints. There is no moral to this story, no lesson to learn. 

Tomorrow I’ll resume my more satisfying posts about the con man in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, happy spring. 

9 thoughts on “Spring and the Depths of College Debt

      1. My older one went that route. It did save a lot of money and postponed the big move to campus that she wasn’t ready for. I recently read that San Francisco will offer residents free tuition for their city colleges. Hopefully it won’t take too long for other cities will follow their lead.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just read Hillbilly Elegy. It’s a memoir written by a young man who came out of rural poverty. He applied to Harvard and received a full ride–not because he was a stellar student, but because Harvard needed kids from a variety of backgrounds.

        Liked by 1 person

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