Student Loans: The New Indentured Servitude - Ed Blog, pt. 25

Before I end this series, especially if it did reach the eyes of the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, student loans need to be looked at and considered.  

Student Loans suck.  And this is true for everyone, but this is especially true for the poor, uneducated, and first to college in any family.  High schools push college.  We do so too hard, without consideration of how students will be able to pay for it, and what the financial ramification will be on their lives.  College is expensive.  Too expensive.  But the cost of it is mentioned as a throw off - just take out a loan.  Loans and college are hand-in-hand in many schools.  This is very problematic.  

Big Banks - the same institutions that were bailed out by the government because of misuse of funds - pray on individuals that are trying to get their lives together.  They do this by making terrible loans look very appealing.  This needs to be addressed in a few levels.  

I was lucky enough to have parents and grandparents pay for the bulk of my education, so didn't require loans until grad school.  They were sold to me in a beautiful package that included: loan forgiveness and $153 p/month payments.  When you took the amount of a raise I was to receive from my masters, this was pretty much a wash.  I took the loan, and learned a valuable experience from it.  

What they don't tell you is that the second you take the loan - including the entire time you're in school - it begins accruing interest.  It does so at a minimum rate of 6.7%.  This is twice as high as most houses.  Additionally, these companies offer "Personal Loans" to help pay for things like - room and board, supplies, books, computers, and the things that will help you make it through school.  The mother fuckers do it in a nice package, too.  Instead of doling out the cash in big numbers, they give out several 'small' loans.  They're for things like a new computer, your rent and living expenses, and sold as being helpful so you can focus more on your studies.  To the recipient, especially to the poor student that has been pushed to college by their teachers and administrators, these numbers do look small and necessary.   They see a $5,000 loan for the school year, but do not see that 4 of these loans are really $20,000 that begins accruing interest at 10.1% rate.  When they finish school, this same 20K is now 23K or 30K, still accruing interest.  The day this student graduates, he or she may have a 30K debt that they must repay, on top of their school tuition that has also been accruing interest.  Shortly after they graduate, bank starts them on a 20-year repayment plan.  If you understand finances, this is one thing; but the same people that take these loans often don't.  Banks know this, and prey on it.  They set a monthly payment, and give the terms.  This may be the first payment for the poor student and their family; so in their minds, they're paying their loans, without realizing the payment barely covers the interest that's accruing each month. 

What this means in practical terms is that big banks are making money off of these students going to school.  If someone is going to be a doctor, or a lawyer, that's one story.  Right off the bat, they make a bunch of money, have the prospects of making more money, and it isn't that big of a deal.  This is a different story if you're a social worker.  

If you take a job in public service, often you don't make very much money.  You never get a bonus, and you may or may not get a raise.  In a public service job like this, your take home pay is probably in the area of $2,000 p/month.  When you're told this as a student, it sounds like a lot.  But when you actually see bills, you realize that this sum doesn't go very far.  Rent $750, you're down to $1,250.  Loan 1 - $350.  Down to $900.  Loan 2 - $175.  Down to $725.  With this money, you must pay all utilities, phone, car, insurance, groceries, and have some fun.  

This is ridiculous.  It's also immoral.  School and private loans impact minorities and the lower class much more than they impact middle and upper class people.  The ramifications of this are huge.  The payments detailed above are slated to be paid back over the course of 20-years.  If you graduate from college at 22, and begin paying your loans right away, that means you'll be 42 years old when your loans are paid off.  In that time, you haven't had extra income to put into retirement, so you're behind on that front.  You also haven't had any extra to put toward your own children's education, so they're behind.  You're now caught in a position where you must work to pay the bills for something you did long in the past.  Something you did on the promise of a better future is costing you in the future.  You're working and not getting ahead, so you have to keep working, just to not get ahead.  The same type of thing was packaged in a different way to sharecroppers, the promise of a 'better life' in exchange for eons of debt.  This is indentured servitude.  

Why this is immoral, and must be addressed, is that high schools - especially shitty high schools that do a terrible job of readying students for college - push those same students to attend college.  When these students get there, they often cannot handle the work load and drop out.  I detailed earlier in this series, the college graduation rates from Chicago Public Schools children, (only 6% graduated from college within six years of graduating from high school) and in many districts this is worse.  These systems told kids from elementary school: go to college, go to college.  

Going to college isn't the problem: many students go.  It's finishing that's the problem.  It's being financially free that's the problem.  In these cases, the students still take out loans, still have to pay them back over 20 years, but they have nothing to show for it.  This must be fixed.  An educated society is better for everyone.  The better we're educated, the better off we all are.  We deem education a right for K-12, we should make it a legitimate option for those older than that.  In the past 20-years, costs of college have sky rocketed.  Many liberal arts schools cost well over 100 thousand dollars to attend.  This will take forever to pay off.  For anyone under the age of 40, college hasn't been affordable.  Our parents were able to pay half their tuition from a summer job.  This is not the case now.  College costs have soared, as wages have been stagnant.  This affects the poor much more than anyone else.  College, if you're qualified and able to go, should be affordable.  Loans should be interest free, or at the very least, have no more interest than a cost of living increase. 

As it stands, college costs are increasing, but the benefit of that same education isn't what it once was.  In spite of this, schools are pushing kids toward college at any cost.  The cost of college, especially our current system, will continue to oppress.  

This must change.