Student debt has become an extremely profitable industry over the past quarter century. It’s also devastated a generation-and-a-half due to predatory terms and practices that the government has created, allowed to persist, and failed to address. Republicans have successfully framed the crisis as one of lazy freeloaders—those who hold the nation’s $1.7 trillion in educational loans are the problem, not the system itself, see? Regretfully, many on the left—including many people here in the Daily Kos community—have embraced this messaging. I’ve been seeing a lot of folks tossing right-wing talking points in their discussions of student loan forgiveness. It pisses me off. But my anger isn’t going to change a damn thing. I do know that sharing my story—also known as “humanizing the issue”—has helped my own family members and friends understand the true predation of the industry, even as the right and the media paint it as a case of reneging on one’s debt. Shit, I just spent the better part of an hour explaining my situation to a member of my beloved Community Contributors Team, and they repeatedly expressed shock and surprise at the “gory details” that they “did not know.” So let’s humanize the issue for folks and help them understand this crisis … including our new president.
This, as the headline explains, is a call for your student loan stories. We must do the work of educating people.
I will anonymize stories as requested, and lightly edit for clarity as needed, but these stories WILL be published here. Talking about money is generally considered to be in poor taste; additionally, the reality faced by educational debt holders can make folks feel great shame and embarrassment. And looking at the comments on pieces like this, it’s not hard to understand why. So send me those stories, folks, and let’s do some educating! For those who have Daily Kos accounts, you can write a story, comment, or Kosmail. You can message me on Twitter, or even email me (my first name at dailykos.com). If you write a story, know that I think you are very brave; please do send me the link via any of the above methods, and use the tag #MyStudentDebtStory! Please make it crystal clear if you’d like your story anonymized. Tell me how much you’ve borrowed. Your interest rates. Your current balance, and your current payment. If you are in an income-based or -driven repayment program, and you know what the government projects you’ll pay and what will be forgiven at the end of your program, share that. Share your numbers, but also share your story. Please. The student loan crisis is just that: a financial crisis, to the tune of over $1.7 trillion dollars. It’s not a matter of people having too many keggers at Harvard or spending their money on lobster and steak and vacations and iPhones. It’s a matter of high interest rates, as well as the capitalization of that interest, combined with skyrocketing college costs. A generation-and-a-half of American students who were told they had to go to college to survive and thrive are now buried in a mountain of debt specifically designed to prevent their escape from it; people of color, women, and first-generation college students are disproportionately impacted. It’s time to tell our stories, and hope people finally listen.