Monday, May 14, 2012

Fairness for Struggling Students Act

Anyone else out there struggling under the Sisyphus-like burden of student loan debt?

Then check THIS OUT!!

I don't know what your situation might be, but mine is a result of my school telling me to borrow as much money as I could as often as I could--including living expenses--because I simply COULD NOT expect to work and ever graduate from their school.  Or so they told me, over and over and over again.

Should I have known better?  Yep.  Should I have ignored their constant nagging and the incredible pressure to borrow another $10k? You betcha. But I was 20 and stupid and I borrowed and borrowed and borrowed some more.  When I had doubts, they told me not to worry, because when I was done with school I was going to make so much money that I'd barely even feel those student loan payments.  They brought in the court reporters from the O.J. Simpson trials who went on and on about how they made over $1 million apiece.  They brought in closed captioners who worked for NBC and made HALF A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.  They brought in people who only worked 3 months a year, remotely, from their mansions in Hawaii or Alaska or France.  I was enthralled.  I believed them, and I borrowed more money.

What they didn't tell me is that court reporting is something that either you can do or you can't. Either you have it hardwired inside of you the ability to write at 250 words per minute, or you don't.  But nobody told me that until I was too deep in to just walk away.  They told me before I enrolled that the average graduation time is 2 years.

Five years later, when my money ran out at last, they told me that court reporting just wasn't for me, that I was one of those unlucky few who just couldn't do it, and that the time had come for me to quit. 

Horrified, in shock, and half-blinded with tears, I had to quit, because I'd exhausted both my federal and private student loans.

Unable to even THINK about paying off my nearly-6-figure-high student loan debt, I enrolled in my local community college and paid tuition out of pocket, and found out that none of the classes I'd taken transferred. Not even the normal ones, like English, Psychology, or Medical Terminology, because they were labeled as "English 1401- FOR COURT REPORTERS." "Psychology 2106 - FOR COURT REPORTERS," etc.  So I had to start all over.

All the while, my debt was (and still is) incurring interest at a rate that I can't think about without throwing up.  There was no hope.  You can't discharge student loans through bankruptcy and they never go away like bad credit card debts will after 7 years.  And even when I'm eventually done with my Master's degree in Library Science (probably still about 7 years away because I'm paying everything out of pocket and I can only afford 2 classes at a time), I can only look forward to making about $45-55k a year. My student loan debt will easily be three times that amount by then; probably more.

Yes, I was young and stupid and I should have known better, but in my defense, I was young and stupid and dozens of teachers and administrators knew that.  They took advantage of it, and they urged me to keep on borrowing for five years, and when I was  all dried out, they cast me aside.

But now there's a ray of hope on the horizon!!  There's a bill before Congress called the "Fairness for Struggling Students Act" that would allow students to discharge their student loans (at least the private ones) through bankruptcy! Is bankruptcy ideal?  Heck, no! But it would mean a fresh start for millions of students who had to borrow money to pay for degrees that they can't use or don't pay enough, because their families were too poor to pay for their college tuition out of pocket.

So please, please, please consider signing this petition to show your support for the Fairness for Struggling Students Act.

2 comments:

  1. I'll definitely sign the petition. I too was one of those people that fell into the student loan trap. I now owe $50,000+, but the real kicker is that the job I went to school for is not what I am doing. Turns out, I hated it. So, now I am working a low paying job, but I owe almost $500 a month in loans. Needless to say, I can't afford it. I dread the day they will no longer allow me to put them in forbearance. I'll be paying on these til the day I die.

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  2. This is awesome. Sign me up. I, too, have loads of loans and never even got to finish the damn degree-- couldn't afford to! The irony of it.

    Also, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. You can read about it on my blog. Enjoy!

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