Discover more from Evolving Together
Dread into relief
A bit more about my student loan discharge, and why I am angry I made it
Student loans are predatory. Perhaps not all of them, but most of them. Note the dollar amount in the screenshot above. Twenty loans, with an amount under 100K but the Department of Education claims I was awarded $342,669 in loans. These numbers do not begin to encapsulate the reality of being an economically disadvantaged student trying to improve their future.
The cost of college has steadily increased over the last 30 years. In that timeframe, tuition costs at public four-year colleges grew from $4,160 to $10,740 and from $19,360 to $38,070 at private nonprofit institutions (adjusted for inflation). As costs have risen, so has the need for student loans and other forms of financial aid.1
It begs the question: why has the cost of a higher education grown faster than the national inflation average? How can the cost of the degrees often required to live at any level where one can save anything for retirement rise at double the rate2 of all other inflation?
There are so many ridiculous questions to ask regarding the cost of the education required to live even halfway decently that it boggles my mind. How did my award balloon from about 98K to 343K (rounded up?). Is it because I have been a student for 15 years? Why is there compounding interest on student loans? Isn’t a young mind a terrible thing to waste? Maybe would should find a way to trap it in debt instead!
Why are there built-in loopholes? How come I, as a veteran, can navigate a process wherein my idiotic amount of debt is forgiven, while people who (apparentely) made less important choices than I did, are ground into human sacrifices by the same crushing loads of made up debt that I incurred while trying to better my life?
This social and cultural system we endure is abominable. Why can’t we learn from Denmark and Finland, which do not charge for higher education? It’s simply part of the social contract.3
I just got my whole future, or whatever remains of my life, back from whoever holds student loan debt. Mostly because I was naive enough to believe the U.S. government has my best interests at heart. That’s simply not true. I traded things I can never get back for the “forgiveness” I managed to navigate mostly because I have a higher than average intelligence.
The system is intentionally hard to navigate. It is intentionally designed to make an applicant feel as if they are begging for something they probably do not actually deserve. It is a patronizing and brain numbing process of checking off very specific things.
Did you almost die for us? Yes? OK, maybe you can go on to the next waiting process. Click here to certify that you are willing to fry in an electric chair if we decide you lied to us about when and where you first received PTSD as a gift for believing the Bush adminstration when they told you Saddam Hussein was definitely getting ready to nuke everyone you loved. Check here if you have had PTSD for at least 10 years.
Now check here to wait for a year while people you cannot talk to or plead your case with in person decide if the crushing mountain of interest bearing debt will be magically wiped out because you were a sucker.
I made it, but I wonder how many other versions of me ate a gun while waiting. It is a bad system, and we should rage until it gets updated. Nothing this cruel should be tolerated.
One in five people seeking higher education ended up considering suicide because of their debts.4 I fall into that category. I have a hard time holding up my head and screaming, "I deserve to thrive too!"