One of the more sobering things one can do is put all of their investments and debts into the website mint.com. I recommend it, just to take a zoomed out view of their finances. Spoiler: It isn’t pretty.
As a child of the 1980s, I have come to terms that I would be in debt. We are the generation that is tasked with being the metaphorical cleanup crew. The environment is severely damaged and our economy is in dire straits. Just like many previous generations, we are being held responsible for our previous generations mistakes.
The difference for our generation is the fact that we live in an age with debt that we can’t control.
I’m talking student debt.
For the most part these days, organizations that give school loans are no different than pawn shops or other businesses that prey on desperation. They target those who have no other choice, but to beg at their door. We come from a generation where familes and communities are frayed and distrusted, where there is no advice for the young, naive, and uneducated and individuals must go into tremendous amounts of debt.
As a youth, I was never given advice in terms of financing. I was just told by my parents that “everyone goes into debt these days”. While that is true, it doesn’t make it right.
Just like other predatory lending practices, the school loan application process is remarkably painless and has few barriers. Entrance counseling is mostly a scared straight session focused on stating to potential students that they have a debt they need to pay at some point. Exit counseling mostly is an attempt to get contact information so these organizations can hunt you down, if need be.
This is particularly a problem with graduate degrees in fields that pay less (here’s looking at you, MPH and MSW, among others). How is it justifiable to charge rates far beyond what an individual may ever make on a salary basis in their lifetime?
How has education become a rite of passage for the entitled? How can individuals who have a heart for the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden help them if they can’t help themselves? Schools have now become an assembly line for the creation of a new underclass, a grouping of educated, impoverished individuals. Further, loans have created a new generation of indentured servants, some working at jobs only because they offer loan payment plans, even if it is toxic in nature.
I am still very happy I went to school and every experience I have had has been beneficial from a personal and professional standpoint. That being said, we can’t make education perpetuate poverty and inequity. Education is meant to be the great equalizer. I don’t know if it is right now.
I have met the 20,000 pound gorilla on every youth’s back and it is student debt. The New Debt.