So, when I came across an article bemoaning the rising cost of education and how student loans costs could haunt the economy, my hackles got risen. So to speak. This section, in particular, pissed me off:
Kristin Cole, 30, who graduated from Michigan State University's law school and lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., owes $150,000 in private and government-backed student loans. Her monthly payment of $660, which consumes a quarter of her take-home pay, is scheduled to jump to $800 in a year or so, confronting her with stark financial choices. "I could never buy a house. I can't travel; I can't do anything," she said. "I feel like a prisoner." A legal aid worker, Cole said she may need to get a job at a law firm, "doing something that I'm not real dedicated to, just for the sake of being able to live."
WTF? She chose to take out those loans and now she is complaining about having to work in a firm, something that she is not "real dedicated to"? If her dream was to be a legal aid worker, she should have rethought the loans. Holy crap, it is not rocket science to figure what a legal aid worker can look forward to in the terms of salary.
Then, there is this story:
Dr. Paul-Henry Zottola, a 35-year-old periodontist in Rocky Hill, Conn., faces paying $1,600 a month on his student loan on top of a $2,300 mortgage payment and $1,500 on the loan he took out to start his practice. His credit record remains solid but he owes more than $300,000 in student loans as he and his wife, Heather, an elementary school administrator, raise two young children. "It would be very easy to feel crushed by it," Zottola said in an interview. "All my income for the next 10 years is spoken for."
I know that getting an education to be a doctor or lawyer is expensive. But in Zottola's case, what did he expect? And besides, he can see an end to the means. Is it not worth the investment of 10 years to put his family towards a better future?
I did take out student loans, I did get a little money from my grandma and I did have a job during college. I did not, however, fulfill my lifelong dream of being an anthropology major or a linguistic major. Nor did I ever feel it was my right to pursue those degrees. I certainly did not dream of being an accountant when I was a little girl, but I did pursue accounting because I knew that I could make a decent living at it. In that vein, I did get a few student loans to ease the financial load and to pursue my master's degree.
Yes, a college education is getting expensive, but we still have choices. Personally, I think we are a lucky bunch of fools here in the US that we even get the opportunity to take a loan to further our education. My India-born husband from a poor family had to study his balls off for a standardized test, sweat out the results and then had to move away from his family where he only got to visit them once every few years. When his mother died, he had not seen her for 2 years. However, if he had not made those sacrifices, he would not be here because a "student loan" was not an option for his family.
So, no. I did not particularly enjoy paying off my loans. In my early years of working post-college, I would cry at the beginning of every month. It was so scary to be alone and trying to make ends meet. Furthermore, it did not help that I had to use my credit card way too much because I had to buy a brand new wardrobe for my Brand New Professional Life. But I did pay it off, little by little. And to this day, I still view the fact that I could even take out a student loan to further my eduction as a privilege. Because it was one.