Saturday, July 2, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 13 - Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt has become a new epidemic in our country. These days it's nearly impossible to obtain a degree (other than an Associate's) without incurring some kind of debt unless you go to school many years after having saved, have a saving fund from your parents, or your parents are rich. And, of course, these days apparently many jobs have decided that you shouldn't only need a Bachelor's degree but a Master's degree, which is even more expensive.  Even now the public colleges are difficult to walk away from debt free and of course it's basically impossible at a private college, especially if you're from a family that is right in the middle of "making too much money" and "making too little" because then, according to the government or something, the parents should be able to pay for college. Over the years colleges prices have been hiked up yearly. When I started at an out of state private institution in 2005, the annual tuition, including my room and board, was a little over $19,000 (still a lot) but by the time I was finishing in 2009 the tuition had gone up at least $4,000. That's at least $1,000 a year. If we're going back in time and minimizing that cost, even though wages were lower, the inflation of tuition cost still flew much farther than the inflation of income cost. Today, in 2016, students graduating from college are basically at a loss.

So here I am, in the same boat as many other students, after having graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Communication Arts that will never make any difference in the film industry. But I envy those people who say they only have $30,000 of debt or less. That's manageable.

To date, the last time I calculated over a year ago I have at least $150,000 in student loan debt.

You heard that right.


And do you know what the most money I've ever made in a year was, even while I was in the Army?
About $35,000.

If you do the math, unless I find some phenomenal paying job or break into the industry, not only will I never pay all that back, I'm basically guaranteed to go into default. Now, I'll be honest, I rarely talk
  about my student loan amounts to me. There are a number of reasons.

1. Sometimes it's embarrassing to admit it.
2. If I'm looking for a date it's definitely attractive.
3. I just don't know what to say because I don't know what to do in the first place.

But I think it's important for this crisis to be out in the open because I know I'm not alone in this and that's it's an epidemic that is also hurting our economy.


Because since students are graduating with student loan debt and unable to make enough money at the jobs they find, all they are doing is paying rent, for food, a phone, and student loans (most of which often goes to interest and therefore goes nowhere).

I ended up in the Army because of my debt. And it wasn't even because they would pay a lot of it back. In fact, when I enlisted, I didn't understand the repayment programs and therefore didn't have any of my debt paid back, which even though only would have taken care of my Federal loans, leaving about $125,000 left.

On the nice end of my service, I've been able to take use of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and go back to school and by the time I'm done I should have a Master's degree free of financial charge (it certainly was earned through my service). But that still doesn't alleviate the massive debt I've accumulated.

Now, I haven't calculated how much I've paid over time, though I know at this point it's a lot, but I left college with about $80,000 in student loan debt. That's nearly doubled and I've only paid off a couple loans, mainly because most of the companies I'm ending up paying interest only and the interest rates are nearly as bad as credit cards. On top of this, private loans have no real hardship relief, unlike federal loans.

I'm basically over time mentally preparing myself for going into default. Because unless something comes along, some miraculous break that pays well, I'm definitely going to default. Doesn't mean I'm not trying to pay the loans. Just means I don't have the money.

For all those out there sailing on the same Titanic ship with me, know you aren't alone. Don't let it bring you down. Keep moving. Drive on. We will find a way. And hopefully one of these days (hopefully soon) this crisis will be solved.

I know this was a long post but it's an important topic. One of these days I'll sure I'll have a film on the subject. But in the mean time, enjoy a few more political cartoons on the topic.

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