The feeling of guilt was soon to creep into my daily thoughts. I had felt as if I had been totally taken advantage of. I was a wide-eyed student who was filled with hope and ambition, one who was not able to afford college. We were not a poor family by any means. I grew up in a nice four bedroom house in a nice part of town; we are the typical middle class family.
I lived on a hill; we had a yard and a dog. The only real difference between my life growing up and the other kids is that I had a single mother and no father in my life. But we made it all work.
When it was time to decide which college I would attend I had little interest in knowing about financial aid. I never had any experience with the complexities of higher learning, much less paying for it.
My first year in college, at Montana State University was paid for mostly by my mother, who had saved up some money for me to attend college. The rest was paid for by financial aid. I later went on to attend a Community college for a few semesters, and then went on to a private liberal arts college.
I understand that all of this is very normal. The normalcy of this situation is the problem.
We are systematically damaging the future prospects of an entire generation that will be crippled by student loan and other debt. No longer can my peers afford the luxury of a car or living on their own. We live in an age where if a student cannot live at home they will struggle to make it on their own.
As an eighteen year old I was naïve and full of ambition. Those are two things that do not mix well. The combination of both of these attributes led me to sign documents that I understood, but did not fully comprehend.
I was told that when I leave college I will have $50,000 a year job and it will be in a field that I am interested in. I have yet to make this goal happen.
Our economy sucks, everyone knows this.
How will our economy be improved by suffocating our brightest youth with debt? In response to my student loan payments I have stopped considering other expenditures. I will no longer aim to buy a car in the next few months, but rather maybe a year.
I will not be going on vacation, nor will I spend time volunteering or doing other worthwhile jobs. I cannot afford it.
I make more money than most of my peers, but the cost of attaining a certain pay scale is to become saturated in debt.
I look at my situation and I know that I will be able to overcome my student loans and I will be able to pay back that money that I agreed to borrow. I am not advocating erasing the student loan debt, which would be fantastic. But, it would only damage our country further.
We must address our educational crisis in a manner that is fitting to the actual situation, which is dire. We need education reform for the middle class and we need it now! I have been the product of a system that fails in most regards to properly educate its citizenry. We do not educate our students in the facts of life; we educate them in a way so they do not ask questions and so they behave.
This is leading to a systematic financial servitude of our society. No other country has more public debt than the United States. We can have pride in ourselves for that accomplishment. Our debt, as of May 27th stands at a miniscule $6,999,887,200,564.75 (US Treasury). Or, roughly $37,095 per capita and that number is rising quickly.
A sociologist could spend their entire career trying to comprehend the complexities of American spending. The fact is that we have a society that is geared towards spending, this is obvious.
What does the “serve me now” mentality get us? A trip to a debtor’s prison would be adequate; of course we do not have those at the moment. In its place we have a system of financial voluntary servitude. This is a system that challenges the best and the brightest to withhold their most basic desires for that 50 inch plasma HD-TV or that new BMW. This is the beginning of the death of the Yuppie.