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Young people coming out of college today have no chance in the United States. Young adults are beginning their lives with an impossible debt that no one is really talking about or trying to fix. It may appear that no one cares. But, I do.
There are all sorts of issues at work here. First of all, young people today are required to have more and more higher education. A bachelor’s degree just doesn’t cut it anymore. And graduate school is extremely expensive and financial aid options are very limited. So, most people have to take out loans. That is the only option. What 22 year old can afford the payments of graduate school? I certainly could not. So, with seemingly no other choices, we sign on the corrupt dotted line promising our first born to Sallie Mae. And no matter what program we are going in to, no matter what our credit history looks like, the student loan companies are really really happy to give us some money. Why? For reasons I don’t understand and don’t seem ethical to me, student loans are guaranteed by the federal government. That means you will have to pay this student loan back NO MATTER WHAT. No bankruptcy will rid you of it. And if you stop paying it, the government is more than happy to allow the student loan vultures to garnish your wages, the government will keep any stimulus or tax refund check you may be entitled to, and they will even garnish your social security check when you retire. That is insane. Why should the government protect these giant billion dollar companies like Sallie Mae and rape these young adults trying to survive? So much for middle class protection.
The media has been outraged over how mortgage lenders have behaved unethically and perhaps, criminally. I agree, it has been horrendous. But, student loan companies have been far more unethical for far longer. Yes, some politicians are admitting this but not correcting the past damage. What about the people that were taken advantage of?
What options are there for people who can’t pay their loans back because the economy took a nosedive? There are none. Or there are a few horrible and hard to get options. If you are permanently disabled, you may have your student loan forgiven. But working at a mental health clinic and trying to help people receive that option, I know that it is next to impossible. There are a few other options that erase some or all of the student loan debt, like teaching in inner city schools or joining the peace corp. but of course these only apply to a few out of the masses. There is a new program that I thought would be my savior. But, it is seriously flawed as well. If you are a public service worker, your remaining balance will be forgiven after 10 years. I was thinking, finally. I worked for ten years in a non-profit mental health center. Yes, I can breathe. My student loans will be taken care of. But, I was mistaken. The actual language states the borrower must have made 120 payments as part of the Direct Loan program in order to obtain this benefit. Only payments made on or after October 1, 2007 count toward the required 120 monthly payments. Wait, what? If I could make my payments, I would not need loan forgiveness. And it starts in 2007. My seven years before that wouldn’t count.
President Obama has enacted Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. This act is an overhaul for future student loan programs. But, it doesn’t help the young people already saddled with debt. If the politicians really want to help the middle class and help average Americans get out of debt, we have to do something for the people that are trying to pay back student loans now. It is great to help the future generations but it is not enough. We can pay billions to banks to keep them from failing; I think we could forgive student loans for people that make under a certain amount a year to keep our middle class from failing. Isn’t that more important? Instead of spending $680 billion dollars on the wealthiest Americans, it is time to save the college graduates. There are over 550 billion Americans in student loan debt. We are the Americans that need help.