To Degree or Not to Degree: The Crippling Debt of Student Loans in the USA

On the eve of my flight to Tbilisi, I’m reflecting on a conversation I had recently with an acquaintance in California. We both completed two years as language assistants in Spain. Each of us took different directions after that.

I went onto Bali, Indonesia to follow the sun because…Why Not?

She went on to complete her MBA at XXXX university and was rewarded with debt of over $60,000 USD. She was able to find work in her field, but now she’s unsure of how long her job will last. Before the pandemic, she was paying around $800 a month towards her student loans. Due to the interest rate, it seems like she’ll never pay it off. She can’t put as much into her 401K because those student loan payments must come first or her credit score will be lowered. She isn’t able to start an emergency fund or save for a house. A baby is definitely out of the question. Her story is not uncommon. Of course, she thinks I’m lucky.

It’s a story I hear often. In the 1990s, you were assured of a job after completing a B.A. degree. In the 2000s, it started to change. Now the higher education mafia wants you to think an M.A. will assure you of success. I’m sad to say, it doesn’t. Do you think you’re the only one with a graduate degree?

If you’re not passionate about what you’re pursuing, you won’t be successful regardless of how much you throw down on an education. Monetary motivation only lasts for so long.

Another example.

Some of my students come from work so tired and drained. They all want to move to the USA and become engineers. Hollywood is still fooling people abroad into thinking the USA is the greatest country in the world, but that’s an entirely different conversation. None of them seem particularly thrilled about being an engineer. When I ask them to explain their hobbies, their faces light up and that spark is evident. It saddens me none of them have the courage to pursue what they like because it will take time and effort to become lucrative.

Everyone wants instant gratification. Pay the insane amount for an education. Get graduate degree. Get engineeering job. Life is good.

It’s time all of us start seriously looking at alternatives to an expensive education. In Germany, you have the option of a vocational training program (Berufsschule). In the USA, we look down on people who don’t go university. However, I’m happy to see a shift in this way of thinking…finally!

We also need to stop lying to the younger generation by telling them they need to study hard and go to college.

Fuck college…unless you go to enjoy the attainment of knowledge. I purposely pursued a degree in the liberal arts because I enjoyed world literature, writing, philosophy, and history. It took me almost ten years to get my degree because I was trying my best to pay out-of-pocket while balancing thankless jobs.

The classroom was my respite from the corporate grind. Those discussions on the existential elements in Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison buzzed around in my head while doing monotonous clerical tasks. A well-rounded education will prepare you mentally for the trials and tribulations of life. That I truly believe in AND it should be affordable for everyone.

If you’re interested, please follow and read the remarks of Cancel Student Debt on Twitter. If you can also check out these countries where pursuing your degree won’t leave you in debt. Plan accordingly because most of these countries have a higher cost of living!

It breaks my heart to see so many dreams thwarted such as buying a home, traveling the world, saving for retirement, starting a business, and/or a family because you can’t afford it due to those student loan payments.

WE NEED TO CANCEL STUDENT DEBT IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. We’re rich enough to afford it. It would help end racial disparities, lead to more homeownership, and boost the U.S. economy.

What can we do differently? Personally, I’d rather spend $2,000 on starting a business rather than $60,000 on a degree in order to work for someone else’s dream.

I’d love to hear your student debt stories. You can also share them through one of these organizations:

Student Debt Crisis

NAACP

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