Although generally I attempt to deny the existence of my student loan debt (approaching $60,000), every once in awhile I'll come across an interesting article or opinion piece by or about another Sallie Mae serf. This CNN piece was written by a new college graduate, named Samantha Hillstrom, who now works as a production assistant for CNN.
The title, Student Loan Nightmare: Help Wanted was initially very intriguing. My student loan debt seems to pop up in my nightmares more often than I'd like, and I'd also like some help! The article seemed to be going in the direction of wondering why it is that homeowners are receiving the lions' share of stimulus assistance. This is something I've often wondered myself---if thousands of student loan debtors had some or all of their loan balances forgiven, just think of all that extra money that would go directly into the economy (or in my case, into my savings accounts. . .) Wouldn't that have the effect of stimulating the economy?
Unfortunately, as I continued reading the CNN article, I noticed that the author---rather than focusing on what she could do to encourage lawmakers to throw some stimulus money her way---fell back on moaning about how much money she owes ($115,000) due to her private university degree (in New York City, no less), and how 'uneducated' she was when she signed the paperwork on those loans.
"Some might say, “Sam, you shouldn’t have gone to a private school in New York City if you wouldn’t be able to pay it off.” Well, I made a lot of mistakes when signing up for my loans, but I was uneducated on the process and on the repayment and now I’m stuck."(Snarky note: for $115,000, I would expect Samantha to be a better writer, but that's neither here nor there).
I have to say, as someone who owes a seemingly ginormous amount of money to the U.S. government, with only a very small chance of making more than $60,000 a year in my field (I'm not even close to that now), I can relate to Samantha's pain. And I do believe our economy would benefit from a little student loan forgiveness (to err is human, to forgive is divine, right)?
But that might be where the similarities between Samantha and me end. I don't blame anyone other than myself for the mistakes that I made when signing away my life to Sallie Mae. I decided not to consider what my life after graduation would be like, with $50K in debt (the amount as grown over the years rather than decreasing, as you can see). I made that choice.
To sit around and whine about it now makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Also, while I would love a little student loan stimulus, I really don't think other people should have to pay higher taxes to cover for my mistakes.
"I chose to go to a private school and I chose to work in a field where the starting salaries are low. Does that mean that I chose to live a life of struggle, wondering how I am going to pay my rent, afford the basics of living and still stay in my chosen career field…all while putting up with high interest rates and an amount of debt that brings me to tears?"Well, actually Samantha, the answer to that question is YES. So suck it up and join the club. And maybe consider moving out of pricey Manhattan to someplace like Dubuque, Iowa so you can afford the rent AND your student loan payments.