It’s important to consider just how bad the problem of school debt is in the United States.
To do this, I would like to point out the number of ways, invisible to most, that you get penalized for not getting a good job after college, going unemployed, and defaulting on a student loan; it’s a societal crack through which many fall, including myself. As if it isn’t bad enough to graduate in the worst economic crisis in modern American history, university tuition adds insult to injury.
Further, if you make the mistake of listening to society as it tells you about the fallacious “shortage of scientists and engineers,” you were already set up before you didn’t get that job that led to you to default on that loan. Bad things have a tendency of “stacking,” creating dangerous–and entirely preventable–gaps.
1.) Your first job is everything. There’s great research showing the lifelong effect–loss of income and career orientation–from not obtaining a good job utilizing your degree right after college. You will probably never escape the devastating effects. The following points are merely the insult on top of the injury.
2.) Your credit gets destroyed. Credit allows you to purchase just about everything of need in a credit-based economy. In other words, everything else about your life gets affected.
3.) The government garnishes your money. This month I had a $1240 tax return go straight back to the government. That’s some payment plan.
4.) You’re prevented from going back to school, because loans are no longer available, even if your debt, like mine, is relatively small–smaller, even, than the average graduate from my university. Go big or go home.
5.) You’re put into a position where, instead of saving for retirement (this is a joke,) you’re forced to pay for your birth into the working world.
The fact that prominent US Senator Elizabeth Warren paid only 26.1% of what I had to pay to attend the same university only adds to the injury. This comparison can be found in a CNN piece titled, fittingly, “Could Elizabeth Warren have made it in Today’s America?”
Of course, it’s also interesting to see the demographics of this play out. Delinquency disproportionately affects minority communities, even after controlling for income.
So the situation is this: your life path is based on a lie; you’ve lost the “economy lottery”; you’ve been slandered; your future development is hindered; and you’re still forced to reconcile your part of the past, but without the promise of the past. And it’s worse if you’re Black.
This is a severe problem that ensnares so many of today’s generation. Free university tuition is a human right that we understand at the K-12 level, but fail to protect at the most important level for making it in the technological landscape of today’s globalized world. If we don’t get it, the meritocracy in the US will continue to languish, success will continue to be unnecessarily path-dependent, and our taxes–mine are high–will continue to disproportionately go to services that don’t help the advancement of the average American.