Down for the count thanks to a trap perpetuated by an American myth
July 21, 2018
An American family’s struggle for student loan redemption
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Image: DonkeyHotey/Flickr
“The foundational myth of an entire generation of Americans was the false promise that education was priceless—that its value was above or beyond its cost. College was not a right or a privilege but an inevitability on the way to a meaningful adulthood. What an irony that the decisions I made about college when I was seventeen have derailed such a goal.
After the dust settled on the collapse of the economy, on my family’s lives, we found ourselves in an impossible situation: we owed more each month than we could collectively pay.
When I first got out of school and the reality of how much money I owed finally struck me, the debt was more of a constant and explicit preoccupation, a matter of life and death. I understand now the extent to which I was among the most overeducated group of young adults in human history.
The debt was mind-controlling—how I would eat or pay my rent without defaulting was a constant refrain, and I had long since abandoned any hope for a future in which I had a meaningful line of credit or a disposable income or even simply owned something—but also mind-numbingly banal.
My father had suffered in the previous two years. In a matter of months, he had lost everything he had worked most of his adult life to achieve—first his career, then his home, then his dignity. He had become a sixty-year-old man who had quite reluctantly shaved his graying forty-year-old mustache in order to look younger, shuffling between failed job interviews where he was often told he had “too much experience.”
He was ultimately forced out of the life he’d known, dragging with him, like some twenty-first-century Pa Joad, a U-Haul trailer crammed with family possessions, including, at the insistence of my mother, large plastic tubs of my childhood action figures.
I will reiterate that I am a thirty-year-old married man with more than $100,000 of debt, who makes less each year than what he owes. Buying a pair of pants is a major financial decision for me.”
By M. H. Miller
The above is but a small portion of a priceless piece titled, “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me.”
You’ll find it here .
The Chronicle recommends you read every word of it before you ever take out a dime of student loan debt.