What does student debt forgiveness mean to 5 people
Americans owe $ 1.3 trillion for higher education.
Photo: Richard Baker / In pictures via Getty Images
Not long ago my fiance and I had a depressing conversation. What would we do if we didn’t have close to $ 60,000 in combined student debt? Buying an apartment, even a house, having a child? Suddenly the possibilities seemed endless. With our payments on pause for now, thanks to two executive actions, we have left ourselves some room to dream.
Dreams can be dangerous – dreams have put us in debt. I took out student loans for a graduate program, desperate to spend four years in Bible college further down my resume. My fiancé, a first generation college graduate who served in the Marines, has only been able to make the GI Bill stretch so far. We’re in our early and mid-30s and we’re mired in a prolonged adolescence that neither of us wanted. We did everything we were supposed to do to climb the ranks of America’s middle class. Now we’ll both be in debt in our forties. Retirement seems impossible, as does parenthood.
President Biden is offering households like ours a little relief, but his proposal to write off up to $ 10,000 in public debt on student loans would only wipe out our payments for a few years. It’s not nothing, but it’s not much either. A proposal from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer, who would forgive up to $ 50,000 in public student loan debt, would make us clear. It is almost unbearable to contemplate.
The pain we feel when we imagine a life without debt is not ours alone. We share it with hundreds of thousands of other people who owe a total of $ 1.2 trillion in student debt, so I thought I was asking the public question: what did student debt stop them? to do? Below are some of their responses.
I was late and I only started my first cycle when I was about 25 years old. At that time, I started in a public school with the intention of becoming a language or civics teacher. I transferred to an expensive private school to get a degree in film production, which was much more expensive. My family could not offer any financial assistance, which required working 30 hours a week. Sometimes I would work multiple jobs with 45 minute commutes while completing 16 credit hours and the expected homework associated with those hours.
Since the full repayment started about five years ago, I conservatively estimate that I have repaid about $ 50,000. But since I graduated my group balances have gone from $ 90,000 when I was walking to $ 140,000 now. As my income increased my stability increased, but it shows in many ways [that] the system is designed to keep advancing the finish line. A simple rewrite of the bankruptcy code would solve this problem for so many Americans and give our president a chance to right a wrong, but if something doesn’t happen soon, I’ll be 55 before I’m totally free from this burden. Only then can I plan for my retirement. I haven’t been able to save significantly for retirement or pay off my credit card debt. (In many cases, I have had to rely on credit cards to cover budget shortfalls or cover quality of life expenses.) I was unable to save for a down payment on a house, nor to cover a major purchase or a car. repairs, which again increases my credit card balance.
I have a relatively comfortable life, but it’s balanced on a razor’s edge, and the constant fear of falling has an impact on mental health as well. This is something that cannot be easily quantified.
I started with $ 20,000 and now I’m at $ 9,800 in federal undergraduate loans. Medically, I need a breast reduction. I need the surgery to be able to run more, to be comfortable, to be able to buy bras in normal stores. But some insurance companies will put you in documented physical therapy for six months before getting breast reduction. My insurance company uses the “Schnur scale,” and they basically say your body has to be that small otherwise your breasts are like your body fat as opposed to an actual medical problem.
So the insurance chooses not to cover something that is medically necessary, and that is associated with the fact that, yes, my student loans are the exact amount that I would need to pay out of pocket. Without student debt, I would be comfortable going into debt for it, or even cutting some of my savings for it. It’s kind of like this perfect storm of all this bad stuff over America.
Rich people don’t have student debt. I remember once at a student council meeting at the university, I asked, who here has student loans? And it was me and two other people in a room of 30 people who raised their hands. So there are a lot of people who can afford to go to college without taking out loans. Forgiveness just wouldn’t affect them. We are not talking about them.
Right now I owe $ 10,000 in public student loans. When I got married, I owed $ 75,000, part of which was private. I come from a family that didn’t have a lot of money. And I was the first to go to college for all of us. I was really struggling, and my parents were struggling financially to pay for it. At one point my dad lost his job and we just couldn’t raise the money, and I was going to have to drop out of college. I told people about the school’s financial aid and they were like, “Well, you can get this private loan, but we need someone to co-sign it for you,” and the credit of my father was terrible. My boyfriend at the time said to me, “I will cosign for you.”
We ended up getting married and it became a huge problem in our marriage. “You can’t have this because you have to pay off your debt. We can’t go out for pizza because we have to save some money to pay off your debt. “We both made a lot of money, and he had the generational wealth of his family; all we had was my college debt. But he got into Dave Ramsey’s world. It really creates extra work for him. women because all Dave Ramsey extras are clothes and housework and things that make a woman’s life easier. Then we have kids. We were putting every ounce of money I made on my debt. I had no freedom, I didn’t have my own money, I couldn’t even buy shampoo.
What happened was we could just live on one income and I was trapped emotionally, and physically as well. Because that was also the argument against therapy: “We can’t afford it because you have to pay off your debt.”
Just cancel it. But that only solves part of the problem. What about the kids who are in school now? We really need to solve the problem of university studies which are so expensive in the first place.
I have $ 102,000 in student loan debt and it has kept me from changing jobs and buying a house. I am a social worker in a non-profit organization and I really need to find a position that allows me to save clinical hours. But I have been in public student loan forgiveness for three years and where I live many jobs that would save me those hours are private / group practices which are definitely not non-profit and not eligible. in the program.
I have a lot of housing stability trauma and over the past two years I have been explicitly and implicitly denied four apartments due to my blindness. I am looking for an apartment again and the fear of this happening again is intense. I make enough money easily to afford a condo (it would be cheaper than paying rent in New Jersey), but I have spoken to several mortgage brokers to try and start the process and each of them m said my student loan debt will prevent me from buying a home unless my income magically reaches six digits. Overall, my student loan debt makes me feel like I am constantly living in precariousness and that I will not feel stable and secure until it is gone.
My husband and I are in our 30s, both with graduate degrees and have worked full time in professional fields for most of the years since we graduated in 2010-2011. After 14 years together, we’re finally saving for a house, a much delayed and protracted process with student loan payments of $ 800 per month. It feels like we’re finally on the right path to a normal middle-class life that our parents would have started a decade earlier in their lives. While we can probably buy a house, it comes later in life and we will have to borrow more money to do so. If we take too long to make a down payment, prices will go up and eliminate any savings the down payment would have made.
We are grateful for the relatively recent improvement in our situation, but it is pretty obvious that we have worked harder for less than previous generations. We will probably give up having children, because adopting as a same-sex couple is difficult and expensive, and we could be discriminated against. But in any case, we are not convinced that we could provide a comfortable and reliable childhood. So, student loans and the bigger dent in the US economy delayed the purchase of our first home and made it more expensive and made us not adopt an abandoned conclusion. And we are the lucky ones. Those with children or other dependents, those who can’t find a job that pays what their degree deserves, or who have debts from a degree they haven’t completed, are in dire straits. worse.
It created an overwhelming sense of resentment towards the individuals and generations who put in place a system that so deeply exploited young people who simply did what they were told was the path to prosperity their entire lives. These same people are now trying to ignore this exploitation or not be relieved.
These interviews have been edited for clarity and condensed for length.