Kim du Toit refers to some things as “RCOB moments”, meaning “Red Curtain of Blood”. Something is so egregiously wrong, or stupid, or ridiculous, that one experiences a red curtain of blood over one’s vision as one instantly loses one’s temper. Comprehensively.
I had such a moment – several of them, in fact – while reading this article.
I have $235,000 of student debt. The first $120,000 came with a bachelor’s degree from my state school. Another $70,000 or so came with my master’s degree. The remainder is accrued interest.
. . .
I would have to begin devoting half of my income to debt payment if I cared to pay it off by 2042. I can’t do that because I make just under $4,000 per month. And that income is a fairly new development in my life. Why would I choose to pay down my debt if it meant I wouldn’t be able to afford basic living expenses?
Short of winning the lottery, there’s no way I could ever afford to pay off my debt.
. . .
I’m privileged to have made it through the first few years of repayment. With a financial hardship agreement with Sallie Mae, my parents – cosigners on my private loans – pay $600 per month to keep default at bay from our family and allow me to live a decent life. And through an income driven repayment plan (IDR) with Navient, I’ve been paying less than $50 per month on my public loans, though that could change as my income changes.
My parents cosigned my loans because we’re first-generation immigrants. Moving to the U.S. was about giving me a chance to live my best life. College was a critical component and we couldn’t afford it any other way. The only reason they can afford those $600 monthly payments now is because they paid off their 30-year mortgage just a few years ago.
My parents are in their 60s and 70s and will live the rest of their lives with my student debt. Likely so will I.
. . .
Some economists say that forgiving student debt would boost GDP by $100 billion per year for ten years and add several million jobs to the economy. It would unlock the capacity of 44 million Americans to buy homes, launch small businesses, and retire with dignity.
Congress could pay for it by repealing the $1.5 trillion tax cut it passed in 2017. Primarily benefiting the wealthy and corporations, even Goldman Sachs says that whatever economic boost the tax cut brought with it has passed.
And to keep future generations from suffering under the burden of student debt, Congress could make public colleges, universities, and trade schools in the United States free.
. . .
I’m focused on keeping the cost of servicing my debt low while I do other things a 29-year-old should be doing, like saving for an emergency fund or a down payment on a house.
I’m spending my money in a way that invests in my future. Can the country do the same?
There’s more at the link. (Yes, there really is more of this whiny, self-indulgent crap.)
There’s so much wrong with this article (or, rather, with its author) that one hardly knows where to begin. Still, I’ll give it a try.
- “I have $235,000 of student debt”. And whose fault is that? Yours. If you were dumb enough to sign for that debt, it’s on your head. Man up and accept responsibility.
- “The first $120,000 came with a bachelor’s degree from my state school”. If you were idiot enough to pay that much, to a state school, for a four-year bachelor’s degree, without taking advantage of any student aid, or lowered tuition rates for in-state students, or any other of the many means offered to make an entry-level degree affordable, you deserve that debt load. I know people with doctorates whose total student debt, across three degrees, is far less than that figure.
- “Short of winning the lottery, there’s no way I could ever afford to pay off my debt”. Then why did you take it on? Isn’t it a basic tenet of honesty and ethical conduct that one doesn’t mislead lenders, by promising to repay a sum that one knows one can’t afford to repay?
- “my parents – cosigners on my private loans – pay $600 per month to keep default at bay from our family and allow me to live a decent life.” And shame on you for putting them into that position! Does your conscience not bother you that you dragged them into co-signing a loan or loans that you admit will never be paid off? They’re going to go to their graves carrying your debt load, or a substantial part of it, while you laugh it off; and their estate will be crippled by the debt residue. Shame on you!
- “forgiving student debt would boost GDP, etc.” Why don’t you say what you really mean? “Forgiving student debt would allow spendthrift wasters like me to get off the hook and avoid personal responsibility for having to meet the commitments we made.” That’s more like it!
- “Congress could pay for it by repealing the $1.5 trillion tax cut”. So the rest of us have to accept a bigger financial burden, just so that spendthrift wasters like you can duck out of your responsibilities? Am I supposed to feel grateful for this “opportunity”?
- “I’m spending my money in a way that invests in my future.” No, you’re not. You’re spending money that is rightfully owed to others, and imposing a crippling financial burden on your parents, all because you don’t want to accept responsibilities for which you signed on the dotted line. You’re being fundamentally dishonest, with your creditors, your parents, your readers, and your country. How does it feel to be a thief? – because that’s what your conduct amounts to, in so many words.
It’s a good thing I’m not a dictator in charge of this country. I know exactly what I’d do to this writer . . . and it wouldn’t be compassionate, or touchy-feely, or politically correct. He’d get a dose of reality, good and hard.
I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in feeling that way. I hold four university qualifications, two undergraduate (Bachelor’s degrees) and two post-graduate (a graduate certificate program and a Master’s degree). All were earned part-time, while working to support myself. In the early years, for my first degree, my father helped with some of the costs; but I had to contribute my share, right from the start. I graduated from each degree free of student debt, and never carried any debt forward. I’m far from alone in doing that. There are some degrees (e.g. medicine, engineering, etc.) where one probably can’t get away with minimizing expenses like that; but those degrees usually carry with them salaries (after graduation) that are sufficient to pay off the student loans they involve. If anyone takes on that level of debt without being certain that their income after graduation will be sufficient to pay it off, that stupidity is on them – not the rest of us!
Didn’t some older cultures and nations condemn defaulting debtors to be galley slaves until their debt was paid? Given the number of those defaulting on their student loans, with attitudes similar to that displayed above, I think we might have an old-is-new-again, “green” marine propulsion system just waiting in the wings here! (Ever heard of “floating a company“? Well, there you are, then! Economics in action!)