Somewhere around 70% of American graduates leave school with student loan debt. Currently, there’s a $1.4 trillion dollar student loan debt in the US, divided up between roughly 44 million people. That boils down to, if divided entirely equally, around $30,000 worth of debt, per person. That’s a lot of money.
Of course, it’s not divided evenly. The guy with the mechanics license probably only owes around $10,000 of that, while the guy with the PhD in neurosurgery owes closer to $300,000 of that. But you have to take into consideration the money that mechanic is putting in the bank every week in comparison to what Dr. Shmo’s check stubs look like. Objectively speaking, apples to apples if you will, they’re both swimming in debt when compared to the amount of money that their education will allow them to bring home. This. Is. A. Problem.
The truth of the matter is, the majority of the people that are currently seeking higher education, have recently left college, or will soon be going to college, are millennials; big, bad, scary, lazy, good-for-nothing, stupid millennials. Big, bad, stupid millennials that can’t budget correctly and don’t know their asses from a hole in the ground, because back in your day you could go to college, buy a car, buy a house, and have six babies all before you’re 30, and still be left with enough money to take all those hoodlums on a nice little trip to Disneyland every summer.
People don’t seem to understand why it just doesn’t work like that anymore. You wanna know why it doesn’t work like that anymore? Cause it ain’t 1962 anymore. That’s why.
America has gotten greedy in its old age. In the 60’s, annual tuition to a private law school would run you around 475 bucks. Public law school would only set you back about $204. Nowadays, you’re looking at $36,000 for private schooling and $16,500 for public. That’s annually, by the way. So if you want to go to the really good, fancy, private school, someone’s gotta fork out $40,000 a year. Who ya gonna call for that? Ghostbusters does not give a single damn, so you’re left in line for a big, fat student loan.
“So you get the education, but you have to pay for it with blood. That’s “Murica for ya.”
Now you get the student loan and you head off to college to live your life as a typical millennial; wasting too much money on avocados and buying anything that has the word unicorn on it. You make lots of friends and even more memories and finally wear that cap and gown, walking out of there with the degree you’ve worked your ass off for. And now you’re gonna pay for it, because that’s the way that student loans work.
When you first get the loan, they’ll say, “Oh, you just don’t even worry about this right now. We know you’re young. We know you’re just starting on your road to higher education. You just worry about this payment later.” And then, when you’re finally in school, they’ll say, “Oh, now is not the time to worry about this either. You’re still learning! You’re still growing! Don’t you worry about this lil ole loan over here. You just focus on that education!” Then, about 2.5 seconds after you graduate, they’ll be calling you up, “You got the degree, now where’s that high paying job? We need some money, honey. Pay up, bitch.”
And then your excitement will deflate like a sad little balloon. If you listen close enough, you can even hear that sad, annoying as fuck, little whine of air. Because now you have an expensive ass degree, no job (or a damn sad excuse for one anyway), and a fuckton of debt that is piling up at your doorstep quicker than you can let the air out of that balloon.
That’s the thing about a degree these days; unlike the 60s, you no longer just “get a job.” Oh no, sir. You get an internship. Or a residency. Or, if you’re just unlucky enough, a job bagging groceries at the local supermarket, because these days, if you expect to get paid anything more than corn chips and a weekly allowance of Mountain Dew, you have to have at least 15 years of experience, 27 reputable references, a letter of recommendation from the past 8 presidents, and an AB- blood type.
Eventually, those good ole student loan folks just ain’t fuckin’ around no more. Your interest is the size of Mt. Everest, you’ve got 15 collection agency phone numbers on your block list, and no one is buying the old, “No, this isn’t Andrea Thompson. I don’t know who that is. Please stop calling me,” anymore. So, instead of fighting 152,000 other motherfuckers for that one damn unpaid internship, that’s only kind of a little bit even remotely related to your field, you suck it up and take that job at the Piggly Wiggly so you can at least pay the monthly minimum on some of those loans; which is a damn joke anyway, because at this point, your ass is only paying the interest – those minimum monthly payments ain’t even thinking about touching the actual loan. But by God, you’ve gotta do something, because bankruptcy, flood, fire, hell, high water or Jesus H. Christ himself can’t make a student loan go away.
And yet you still have your old ass neighbor Janice stopping you in the Piggly Wiggly, saying, “Oh, Andrea, well I’ll be. I coulda sworn you got yourself an education. I don’t understand why you’re mopping up pickle juice in aisle 3. Why, back in my day, young’uns just had more get up and go. Folks actually done somethin’ with themselves back then. You didn’t get an education just to throw it away at the daggone Piggly Wiggly. Matter of fact, Earl and I owned our house and both our cars since we’s 28. It’s a shame, you young kids now. Such a shame.”
As she walks away, shaking her head with that “Bless her heart” look on her face, it’s taking everything you’ve got to not throw a pickle at her fucking head and say, “Yeah, Janice. I get it. You were born in 1930 fucking 2. But now it’s 2017, and your car smokes every time you start the damn thing and Earl is fucking your granddaughter’s babysitter. But what the fuck ever. You got me.”
Instead, you mop up your pickle juice because you need this job; because it’s not 1962 anymore, and you’ve got to pay off a student loan that’s eating you alive.
Things aren’t simple anymore. You don’t get to go to college off of your daddy’s savings from the local coal mine. College tuition and the associated costs of being a student are high. Having a trade gets you virtually nowhere anymore. Everyone wants an education and experience out of a person that hasn’t even been alive long enough to get it.
Scholarships are a hard thing to come by, and FASFA is hit or miss. If you happen to fall into the blue collar category, then you have too much for financial aid, yet not enough to pay for it yourself. So you’re left with the option of no education, or a big, fat, looming loan no sooner than you take your cap and gown off. So you get the education, but you have to pay for it with blood. That’s “Murica for ya.
Places like Germany and France offer free higher education, and they have a far more productive and educated society. It’s a sad truth when our country’s students have to consider leaving their homes and their families to study abroad in an attempt to seek an education that they can afford. All because our country is greedy and would rather you have your eyeballs fucked out by a student loan company than to see you get something for free.
Our country has a problem. You cannot expect educated, productive people if you intend to bury them in debt for the rest of their days to get it.
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Andrea is a freelance writer based out of Kentucky. She is the mother to a 3 year old little girl and step-mother to a 6 year old boy. She’s been married to her husband and best friend for 5 years. She enjoys fishing, camping, hiking and the occasional glass of wine by a bonfire.