Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans
ONE late summer afternoon when I was 17, I went with my mother to the local bank, a long-defunct institution whose name I cannot remember, to apply for my first student loan. My mother co-signed. When we finished, the banker, a balding man in his late 50s, congratulated us, as if I had just won some kind of award rather than signed away my young life.We're two paragraphs in and he's already bashed the banking institutions and laid the groundwork for his pity party. Oh, those evil banks, making you sign your life away - you know, on the big pile of cash they just handed you. And your parents got divorced? Shucks, that's tough, I understand. But lots of people meet hardships. My freshman year of college, one of my friends' dads dropped dead of an aneurysm. Bet his mom had trouble affording tuition, too.
By the end of my sophomore year at a small private liberal arts college, my mother and I had taken out a second loan, my father had declared bankruptcy and my parents had divorced. My mother could no longer afford the tuition that the student loans weren’t covering. I transferred to a state college in New Jersey, closer to home.
The rest of the article continues in much the same vein. Oh, poor me, life is hard. College is expensive (as a side note, you want to know why it's so expensive? Ask that champion of the working class, Elizabeth Warren, about how she made $350K a year for teaching ONE CLASS A SEMESTER at Harvard. You think your debt was bad? Try four years at Harvard). You amassed a large debt as a result of your college tuition. Unless you're a LOT younger than I am, you're either full of s**t, you made some INCREDIBLY bad decisions, or there's more to the story.
Look, I went to a state college. I got accepted to Boston University, Northeastern, and a couple other more prestigious institutions. I went to Fitchburg State College, for two reasons: 1. It had the cheapest tuition, room, & board around, and 2. They gave me a partial scholarship. Was it my first choice? Hardly. I filled out the application as a lark, really. But it wasn't too far, so I could keep my part-time job on the weekends to make money, and tuition was cheap. I paid cash for my first year. Dad was a cop. Mom was a housewife. I got - and expected - nothing for college (I think I once got $20). They helped me out when they could (mostly getting textbooks, but also applying for other scholarships), but mainly I was on my own.
And I paid back all of my student loans. Early, even. In fact, when I went to graduate school (which paid me to attend, not the other way around), I specifically chose NOT to suspend payments (even though I could have) so I could pay my college loans off on time. Because that's what adults do. You sign your name to a contract, you fulfill that contract, or you suffer the consequences. Plain and simple. Don't whine and complain about eeeeevil bankers - no one put a gun to your head and made you take those loans out. No one made you pass on the jobs that could have helped you pay those loans back. And fuck you for insinuating that there's something wrong with taking a job because it pays the bills.
You know what would *really* happen if everyone welched on their debts? It wouldn't be some glorious people's rebellion where the banks all went under, no. It would mean that only the super rich went to college, and then ivory tower meatheads like you would piss and moan about how only the "moneyed" had the "privilege" of attending college. The problem ain't the banks, bunky. It's the colleges. When an average state college costs $25K a year - that's a decent mid-sized car every single year - there's a problem. When I went to school, granted over two decades ago, it was $6K where I went. That wasn't even a crappy car. Harvard University is over $60K a year. That's a gorram Mercedes.
But it's those eeeeeeevil bankers' fault that college loans are so onerous, isn't it? Getting an Ivy League degree will cost you very close to a quarter of a million dollars, but DAMN YOU BANKERS for LENDING US MONEY. Let's not question, not even for one second, why tuitions are through the roof, oh no. Let's just leap to the conclusion that this is all some nefarious Wall Street plot to rob the common man of his hard-earned money.
Because if you accept the premise that these banks are evil for lending money, then it makes it seem more noble and iconoclastic to be the guy sticking to them, doesn't it?
I waded about 20 comments into the article before I closed the browser window in disgust. It's breaking about 3:1 for the author's decision, with most people decrying the student loan process. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there are large roving gangs of student loan facilitators who troll college campuses waiting for a student to approach them. Once approached, they put a gun to the student's head and force that student to sign a loan with interest rates in the triple digits. Sob stories abound about people that took out $5K in loans, only to wind up paying back $25K or more.
Now, I'm no financial wizard, but the loan I took out was for about a year of college, for about $7 - $8K. I paid roughly $150 a month for five or six years and it was done. You know what I didn't do? I didn't defer it when I went back to graduate school. I didn't miss payments. I tried to make more than the minimum payment whenever possible. I drove a succession of crappy used cars rather than a new BMW so I could pay my bills. Then, once I was finished with school, I took a job making good money and finished the debt off in a few months. There's no shame in working a job for the money.
I'd say there's shame in welching on a contract, but you obviously don't share my values.
That is all.