Monday, August 12, 2013

Student Loans are Bullshit

[This post isn't my usual brand of funny, but I wanted to write it, soooo here it is. Also, it kind of took a lot out of me, so nothing new is going up til Friday. Also I'm linking up with yeahwrite, which I haven't done in forever! Ok, here we go.]

Let's talk about student loans. I have them. I have more than $50,000 worth of them.


Let's talk about how this happened. 

Six or so years ago, I was a bright-eyed high achieving high school student who had her pick of a handful of colleges. 
 
Yep, this is what 18 year old Gia looks like
Like most 18 year olds, I had no idea what I wanted to do. 

Hell, I still don't know.
But that was okay, because I was going to college to figure it out. Times were tough and my family didn't have any money to help pay for the college, so I knew I'd be financing it with student loans. But it's good debt, right?

But if I won the lottery... (also this is what designer clothes look like, right??) 
So I chose a private school - good academics, good size, good location. It was kind of expensive, but I didn't think it really mattered.


One of the bullshit parts of student loan debt? They make it so ridiculously easy to get into. At least where I went, they pretty much figured out all the financing for you.


Welp, sounded good to me.
When you take out the loans, you're not told what your average monthly payment would be. And it probably wouldn't matter much if you were, because as an 18 year old with no sense of real money/expenses/being an independent adult/what you want to do in life, that number won’t mean anything to you.


Don't get me wrong, I wasn't completely uneducated on loans. I participated in all the mandatory online loan education sessions and whatnot. 


It wasn't a problem; I had no intention of NOT paying my student loan - a loan is a loan. I'm a good little citizen and wasn't looking to cut out on my responsibilities. (To this day, I've never missed a loan payment.)

My time in college flew by and I graduated with honors. And also $50,000+ in student loans. Luckily, I got a job pretty soon after I graduated; it paid $30,000. 

Yes, I was super grateful for that shitty miserable job. Luckily, I now work for a place I hate way less.
But now I'm paying roughly $500/month in loans. While my non-bachelor-degree-holding parents were traveling at my age and my friends who don't have loans get to do fancy things like own cats and pay more than $15 for a haircut, I penny pinch like crazy. It’s very hard for me to create meaningful savings or to save up for any kind of significant purchase.


Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of people have it a lot worse than I do. I work in a ghetto, I have perspective, and I know even being eligible for loans is a uniquely middle class problem. Plus, Boyfriend buys me lots of things, for which I am so very grateful.


But this still sucks.

Remember?
Now that I can look back on the major, life changing decisions I made when I was barely an adult (seriously, why can 18 year olds make decisions that will affect the next 25 years of their lives!?), I realize the whole system is fucked and unfair. Colleges are money-making machines. 

Fucking. Bullshit. 
It drives me nuts when people say things like this:



Like a ton of my fellow students, I worked every year I was there. But the jobs only paid $7.25/hour. For me to be able to afford my insanely high tuition, I would have had to get a higher paying job. And since I have no skills (if only I was good at electricianing!), the only way I would get a higher paying job is with...a college degree.

  
And I really lose my cool when I hear advice like this:

Really bitch? Really? Let's break that down.

I broke it down in a yelly way.

It's very frustrating.

If you also have student loan debt too, know this:


And if you're thinking of taking out student loans to pay for college, 


At the least, find the cheapest possible option and take out the fewest amount of loans possible. If you don't know what you want to do, you can take some time and figure it out before going to college. I wish someone had told me that. 

And if you are a parent whose kid is approaching college age,


Seriously. Adults, schmadults. They're probably still living at home and dependent on you and have no idea what a real budget is. Just forbid them, and they'll probably listen. (Okay, okay, or see note above about doing it smartly.)

In conclusion, if I could go back in time, I would absolutely go to a cheaper school. And I'd smack my 18 year old self for being so shortsighted. 

Sorry self, you're not a whore. Just stupid. But you'll get that cat one day...
Ok, your turn: share your student loan stories (or how you got around them) in the comments.  

56 comments:

  1. So it's either loans or cats. Got it.

    Incidentally, do you have a clause that states if you don't earn enough money after college that your loans eventually get cancelled out after 25 years or so? If so, get flipping burgers until student loans forgets about you.

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  2. You should have six months worth of savings in case of an emergency? I think I almost choked on my coffee. I have enough to last for 2 weeks and after that I'm living with my parents or homeless.

    $45,000 worth of loans checking in. Totally not worth it, and I'm going to be repaying them until my 45th birthday (payment calculator shows that). The worst part? Being as how it was in IT, it was merely a formality so I could get a job. I already knew every single thing that degree "taught" me, and often I helped the instructors. I just had to "buy" the stupid piece of paper so places would actually hire me. Makes sense, right?

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    Replies
    1. Nope!
      It sucks no one will hire you without that fucking piece of paper!

      Delete
  3. I am sooo posting this on FB. It should be required reading for anyone entering college.


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  4. I'm currently at just under $35k and I have another year of school to go. I can't express enough how much I love this post. I came across an image once and I just couldn't share it fast enough. It said "Education should not be a debt sentence". Your triangle of bullshit is dead on. And sadly, it will never change.

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  5. "Don't saddle me with debt you stupid whore."

    Bwahaha. Sorry. That line was funny.

    I went to a public university so my debt was less than yours but I also had the bright idea to take out more loans for graduate school. Yay me!

    I just finished pay off my loans a couple of years ago. Both bachelor and post-graduate. It was a very proud moment. It took almost 20 years. Hell's bells. I wish someone had told college me that it would take that long. Good lord.

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  6. Woah, American student loans sound way harsh... it'd bad how much debt they get you into over here too, but with mine I was lucky in that there was a clause in place that meant only paying back a small amount. I pay back £50 a month at the moment, and that's on a good wage. However, our prime minister recently jacked up tuition costs, taking it from £9,000 for 3 years (what I paid) to £27,000 for 3 years (what new students will pay.) That takes it from around $14000 3 years ago, to $41000 now, and that's without maintenance loans, which will add around £15,000 to the total. It's crazy and it's unfair, it's like we're being punished for wanting to be educated, yet those that don't educate themselves get looked down on. You just can't win x

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  7. I have $10k in student loans and NO DEGREE to show for it. I went to college when I was 18-20 because, well, that’s what you’re SUPPOSED to do. My parents, bless them, paid for classes my first year even though I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I paid for classes my second year, thus the debt. Then I was like “I STILL have no idea what I want to do with my life. I think I’m just gonna get a job for a while.” 7 years later, I’m still in the job, and it’s a pretty decent job these days, but still paying off the effing debt that I have no degree for!! I’m actually paying $10k (plus interest) for NOTHING. Yippy skippy.

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  8. I'm here because JoeH recommended it, and you are spot on.

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  9. Ok, how about this one . . . not only do I have $45,000 in debt, but I accumulated another $60,000 in school loans about 10 years ago. How on earth did that happen, you may ask? I got married and accumulated my husband's school loans as well. That's right, we are a household owing over $100,000 for our educations. My GRANDkids will be paying that shit off!

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  10. I graduated with a "manageable" amount of debt in 2009 - about $18k. I was fortunate enough to get a job straight out of the gate, but it was at a non-profit, and they paid very little. My fiancee and I decided to wait a year to get married, and I spent that first year after college living with my parents. I think I put close to 80 percent of each paycheck towards my loans that year. It sucked. But, at the end of that year, I was out of debt.

    What I did worked for me, but if I had had any more debt, I would have wanted to put my life on hold for even longer to pay it off, and that's just not realistic. $50k is gross. That really sucks. And you're totally right - it's a vicious, life-sucking cycle that our entire generation is stuck in.

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  11. This post is incredible! My first student loan payment will go out this month, and since I'm currently slinging lattes with that degree, I can say I probably should have thought things through a little more as well.

    Damn you , student loan providers, for making it so damn easy to put yourself in life-long debt. And damn you, younger self for being such a dumb whore.

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  12. Yes. YES. My student loan is small comparatively speaking, but don't worry - I have about 50k in medical debt (cannot be discharged), so America is making sure ALL of it's young folk start off life as indentured servants!
    Such a crock of crap. Grr.

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  13. I think my first semester in college cost a little more than $200. I can't help it that I went to college during the Middle Ages. That's why I'm so good at reading and translating Middle English. Wow! I've lived a long time. The Hurricane took out student loans to spend a year in England getting her master's at Cambridge. At first I said, Don't do it! Then I said, Do it while you can! X co-signed for the loans. I hope she can't pay them back. hehehehehehehehee

    Love,
    Anonymous Junebug

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  14. Do NOT take it down after Friday. This should stay forever.

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    Replies
    1. OH don't worry, I just mean that a new post will go live and will bump this one down a bit. I should clarify.

      Delete
  15. This is so true. I hate my student loans. My sister has it worse than me though. She went to law school and when she graduated couldn't find a good law job. Apparently it's really tough for new lawyers to find work right now.

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  16. I had my loans deferred for a year, but that year is coming to a close and I'm terrified. I am honestly pretty lucky and don't owe as much as most people who went to a private university (my parents helped some and I had a few decent scholarships), but it's still a lot. I just plan on paying it til I die anyway.

    And yeah, people who say to work through school... good fucking luck. I worked almost full time while in college and couldn't even make a dent in paying for school. It was hard enough buying books, food, and paying rent and such. Pssh.

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  17. I owe over $65,000 in school loans, which are currently deferred. It was part of my brilliant,"I need a Master's Degree from a private school, but I'm always going to work a crappy social work job, and supplement my paltry income with waitressing and phone book delivery, plan."

    Your Triangle of Bullshit is my new favorite thing.

    Karen

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  18. 78,000 dollars in school debt...and don't get me f****** started on medical debt. I don't know if the need to acquire medical loans or my school loans is more painful and pathetic.

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  19. this is so funny!!! i mean, not the debt, of course. don't worry, you're so smart and talented, you'll own a cat before you know it. :)

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  20. What they've done to students is total bs. The debt-trap bullshit.
    When I went to SF State in the early 90's, semester tuition was about $1600. I graduated with no student loan debt. I still managed to acquire a ton of debt in my early twenties, but I did it traveling to about 11 different countries and actually living off my credit card in Italy for an entire month.
    THAT is debt I don't regret - and I never would have had the freedom to acquire it had I already been in debilitating student loan debt.

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  21. It's sad to me that they make it so easy to get, but don't give all the info. but even if they did, you're right--students wouldn't get it. I think they should figure out a way to be fair about this and sensible. Because YES--It's not like you spent the money buying kittens. I remember getting my first credit card and I didn't know how it worked. (This was even AFTER college.) I just knew you should be able to pay them off. So I bought a computer that I could have paid for out of savings, but used my credit card so I could build credit. Then proceeded to pay off a little at a time. Then realized that the total had somehow grown to be more than the computer had cost in the first place. WHAT. This was, like, news to me. So I paid it all off and only used the credit card if I paid the whole thing off every month. There should totally be more education and less interest.

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  22. Gia, you are a genius. I hate the student loan issue...I am a lot older than you are and I still have 50K in debt. Then again, I went to school three times so I guess it's my fault. Oops.

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  23. I had a full ride to any California school plus extra money and bonuses for good grades, but it just so happened I came into my bipolar at the beginning of college and wasted 3 years doing bad things. LAPD would send me a shit load of money (child of officer killed in the line of duty), I would spend it on me, the school was never paid and nobody ever came after me. Now I'm 42. Maybe you should have stripped. I hear about girls paying for college that way ALL OF THE TIME.

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  24. Okay, I know you said this wasn't funny, but I laughed. A lot. I'm sorry, I wasn't laughing at you, just...with...you? I agree, student loans are bullshit. I especially loved the yelly way you broke it down.

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  25. If I had it all to do over, I'd probably wait a few years before going to college - save up some money ahead of time, try out a few different jobs and see what interested me, maybe get a sense of what the real world is actually like... if I had it to do all over again.
    That being said... I made it through, and now I have not just one, but two cats, a wife, a child, car loans, a mortgage, insurance payments, taxes, ....
    Being an adult is grand. ;-)

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    Replies
    1. If you would wait to go to college, why didn't you wait until the loans were paid off before having cats, a house, or a child? You'd be no further 'behind' in life by doing so than you would have been by waiting until you could pay upfront before going to college...

      Delete
  26. I love this post! Hilarious.

    These problems stem not only from the high cost of higher education, but also from the fact that wages have been flat as hell in recent history. You are not earning what you're worth, and definitely not enough to keep up with rising expenses (like student loans).

    I had only 10k in student loan debt, but that's because I got financial aid from my private school. And my parents kicked in some. And I worked the obligatory work-study job. And it was 1994, when costs were slightly less astronomical.

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  27. Salliemae, Wells Fargo, etc. used to call me more than my mother. Luckily, I got hit in the head with a bottle at a concert and got some money to pay my way out of some defaulted debt. Every girl's dream is to get taken out of a Tom Petty concert in a stretcher so she can make her student loan payments, right? Seriously though, this post is outrageously true. I still owe about 80 thousand and pay over $800/month -- it's so much fun. And yes, fuck the baby boomers who act like college costs the same as it did in 1960.

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  28. Very useful post! And so true. I just didn't go to university and so side-stepped the whole thing. I can still earn minimum wage (Yay! Equality with graduates!)

    I LOVE your drawings. Like <3 love them.

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  29. You managed to be funny & serious, at the same time, about a disturbing subject. I'm a lot older than you, so I'm currently trying to make sure I don't put my kids in a situation like this. May not be able to retire until I'm 80, but oh well.

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  30. I know people who won't even let me say the words "student loans" because it will ruin their day to think about what they have.

    I'm free and clear with a couple degrees under my belt, but the student loan thing people face makes me sad. It traps people in jobs they hate and prevents educated folks from choosing jobs that might help people but pay less.

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  31. I used my student loan to buy a Corvette and hit on all the chicks in my classes...I received two degrees and paid the loans off; then I sold the Vette and got a van..Just gotta plan a little bit..
    David

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  32. I got around student loans by not going to college!!! Yay, me!!!!! Hey, wait....

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  33. I paid for college as I went. And then realized I wasn't making enough to pay for rent, food AND school. Guess which one got axed?

    Also, this may be my most favorite post of yours. I kept bursting out laughing. I'd even pick up the laptop and run into the other room to show and tell to Erik what you'd done. He's pretty stoic most of the time but even HE smirked. Which, for normal people equates an atomic belly laugh.

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  34. Luckily I live in Canada where things are similar to the States, but not as extreme.

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  35. My son is starting eleventh grade in a few weeks. I have gotten ready for back-to-school by commencing a college tuition funding freak out, so this was very timely, hilarious, oh...and frightening...terrifying even! No new shoes or shirts for him! Fun to see you here Gia!

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  36. I love your Triangle of Bullshit. What an accurate depiction of the insanity of it all!

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  37. The student loan issue is such a disaster, and I can't understand why no one seems to want to do anything about it. I want to send this post to every senator and congressman in Washington.

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  38. This is going to sound so totally morbid....but my grandmother died right before I graduated college. Only wth my inheritance, was I able to pay my loans off in full. Thank you, Granny.

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  39. oh girl i'm so sorry. I was lucky in that we were so poor most of my college was paid via financial aid.
    good to see you back on the grid!

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  40. Student loans stink! I totally agree. I took out some student loans but went to a reasonably inexpensive state school so my debt wasn't too bad. But still! A pain in the rear.
    Good luck paying them off! Once you do, you will feel 100 pounds lighter! I remember the day I wrote my last check to them. Blissful!
    PS Once you have your first child, keep them under lock and key. The student loan people are not above taking your child for missed payments.

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  41. This post is excellent. You had me laughing out loud--mostly because it was just so spot on. My school has a senior celebration lunch where they hand all the seniors sheets with paying back loan information on them--doesn't sound much like a celebration to me.

    Somebody I know gave me this exact advice before I went to college and I took it. I'm really glad I don't have loans now. Best of luck paying yours off though! Hopefully your advice will go to good use out here on the internet =)

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  42. Change that 5 to a 9 and I am right there with you.

    Also, I didn't finish that PhD degree. The recession hit hard right when I was ready to start my field work and they cut most of the research funding in my department. When I lost that little bit of grant support they provided it was the last straw. My advisor suggested I stay and finish on what he called the "credit card PhD" program. Just in case five (almost six) figures of student loan debt wasn't enough for one person.

    And now . . . with a masters in a field that demands a PhD? I am told I am overqualified or under-qualified for the few available jobs.

    I am printing this post out and mailing it to my student loan provider. Likely ineffectual, but a protest nonetheless.

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  43. And then after working three jobs to pay off my loans, the lenders tried to con me into sending more money. Luckily, I kept documentation of all my payments. Keep your receipts and paperwork everyone.

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  44. Damn...America is a mess. Why ever was I so hot to go to school there?

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  45. I went to enough classes at the community college to fake having a degree, then lied about it on my resume, got the job and paid off what I had spent on my courses. True fucking story and one of the top reasons that I am not a role model and a person who should be allowed no where near burgeoning adults because I sent a terrible example.

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  46. So glad to see you back on the grid! This is BRILLIANT. I went to public school for undergrad and law school in the dark ages and still paid back loans for 20 years. And then quit practicing law immediately upon repayment. The Triangle of Bullshit indeed. Trade school, kiddos!

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  47. Hmm... as on who is working at a small private college, we are most definitely not a money-making machine. I haven't gotten a cost-of-living raise in 5 years. And there wasn't enough money to fund my job full-time, so I'm part-time.

    The only thing that saves me is that I graduated from undergrad with $0 loans. I worked my heinie off for scholarships and to maintain scholarships.

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    Replies
    1. Oh let me clarify: When I say colleges are "money-making machines" I certainly don't mean the people who work at colleges - I have absolutely no idea what kind of money they (or you) make, nor am I speaking to specific departmental budgets, because I don't know how those work either. I mean, to me, saying that colleges aren't a money making machine because XX person who works at a college doesn't make a lot would be like saying Walmart isn't a money making machine because their employees don't make a lot. My opinion (acknowledging it's just that, my opinion) is that colleges/universities as an institution are money making machines.

      I'm glad you earned the opportunity to have scholarships. I got great grades in college - I graduated Summa Cum Laude and won the award for my major (closest thing they had to valedictorians). I had small merit based scholarships that I earned and maintained too - unfortunately, they didn't make a dent in my overall tuition. Like I said above, if I could do it again, I would absolutely choose a different school (and one that offered larger merit based scholarships).

      Delete
  48. Love this! Congrats on your yeahwrite top five win :-)

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  49. You win the internet today--Triangle of bullshit love it! Hubs and I are waaaay older than you with lots of student loan debt & 3 kids to send to college. It sucks that we will still be paying on our own student loans while trying to fund college for our kids.

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  50. I got a University degree and because it was essentially a useless degree, I ended up having to go to College afterwards. I walked out with about $30K in debt. That was 6 years ago. Today I'm sitting at just under $10K remaining but those first few years, I was making so little that I could barely afford to pay enough to cover the interest so made no real dent in the principal amount. I could have paid if off faster but there were things like ya know, rent and food.

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    Student Zoom

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    ReplyDelete