Student debt crisis watch: pay $18,000 of your $24,000 loan, owe $24,000

You and your spouse are the kind of parents many young adults wish they had. Thank you for recognizing that you were in a position to help, had the time and the means to help, and then made every effort to do so. It sounds like it paid off and all three of you should feel proud.

It still holds that there simply aren’t enough scholarships to float every kid through college. That tuition costs have skyrocketed over the last twenty-five years and continue to outpace both inflation and wage growth.

Please, please understand that these hard truths do not detract from your accomplishment. Your daughter will attend college and given her evident work ethic, she will do well. She will learn about survivorship bias and she will graduate not only debt-free but likely with a broadened and deepened understanding of what that means in the States today.


Mr Switft,
It reads like you have an intelligent brother.

As you’re already aware, you won’t get much agreement from many fellow BBS contributors. There’s an expectation that college should be free: followed by a lifetime of universal basic income [equally distributed], “affordable” housing, and free healthcare.That’s supposedly a worker’s paradise?

What’s missed from the discussion is this is a GOVERNMENT PROGRAM. The US Department of Education makes it extremely easy for young people to saddle themselves with a lifetime of debt.

The college/university doesn’t care. Their job is to hand the student a piece of paper that says they’ve studied X for 4+ years and wish them good luck. Oh, and also provide lavish pensions to their workers [but that’s a topic for another BBS]. These places of higher education need a revolving door of incoming suckers, oops my bad - students, to fund the game.

Yes, the young woman in the article is truly a victim: she’s a victim of government policy because she believed the hype!


Yeah, the politics of envy seem to run strong on BBS. Shame.
There are so many people wasting their time at Universities when there are so many jobs left wanting in society that would probably pay more than the usual BS degree that so many people seem to take, just to say they have a degree. I have a bachelor degree in Physics and a Master in Mathematics but I needed those in order to be a high school teacher. You don’t need a degree in 18th century French Poetry in order to much of anything useful. As a hobby and a passion? Wonderful! Go to a trade school, learn to be a Journeyman Machinist and study poetry in your spare time. There are too many Universities out there that need to be culled by the free market. With the prices so insane now, it won’t be long until students realize they are wasting their time and head towards more lucrative careers and lots of these schools will fade away. Having the Government involved is a big factor in the persistence of these schools. As usual, the best solution is less government interference.

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Well…child support arrearage (debt) is a crime that can wind up with compounding crim penalties incl jail time. So is failure to pay some court fines and penalties. I hope our business driven greedy leaders will not start eyeing other debts to legislate. But my side comment is off topic, so jus sayin.

Here’s my on-subject comment: all systems blow. Ours is steam-whistling like a cliffbound hijacked train engine. Jump off the system if you can.

Such things require lots of money. That’s what makes this increasingly difficult for people to be expected to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” and other republicanesque logic that should be tossed into the dustbin of history. We’re approaching historic levels of income inequality that flip society into groups of people who have everything and people who have nothing i.e. the aforementioned genetic lottery. A college degree is what a high school degree used to be when my parents were growing up in the 1960’s, the minimum wage was almost double what it is today in 1968, and college was affordable. College has increased more than 5000% since my parents, uncles, family members, etc went to school but, it is expected for most jobs that pay more than the minimum wage i.e. having a college degree. While we’re approaching this precipice, this cliff of income inequality, this sort of wealth division is unprecedented and unlike anything we’ve seen in history. What this means is that people who are the same age as their parents were in that time in history are not buying houses, having children, etc but, instead waiting years, sometimes decades later. This is dramatically reshaping our economy, political system, etc. It draws into question what it means to be an American and if the American Dream is truly dead when people like Trump instead of raising the standard of living of average americans, the party of fiscal responsibility bullshit, finds it in themselves to add 1 trillion dollars to the deficit to help the top 1% continue to rig society in favor of themselves and their children. This continued ire of dark money, special interests, wealth division, and hyperpartisanship is a witches brew of what the founders of our country called the most dangerous combination, I hope never happens.

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution” John Adams


I’ll try one more time and leave it be. Your rhetoric in this thread is so slippery and convoluted it’s either genius-level trolling or you change your mind every few minutes.

This is what you wrote upthread. You can check it yourself:

“She could’ve gone for cheaper public university, major in something that’ll actually make money without killing herself, and pay off whatever little debt she had.”

That is the advice you already gave (though you gave it as an aside to us, not directly to the author). I am offended by it because what worked for you can be disastrous to others. Any time you second-guess someone’s path without having walked in their shoes, it’s patronizing, arrogant, and offensive. It says more about your character than theirs.

You keep calling her an idiot. She’s a professional with an advanced degree earning a respectable income. From what you’ve said about yourself, you fit that description, too. The primary difference that we know about is that she has student debt and you don’t. She’s paid down her debt considerably, and in the article is pointing out that, while the debt is not catastrophic, it is at such a high rate and subject to such onerous terms that it would be silly if it wasn’t also tragic.

I don’t think you get what she was trying to say in the article at all. The article IS NOT ABOUT HER, except to relay her experience as an illustration of what is broken about college costs and student lending. She’s clearly learned by painful experience and is sharing what she has learned with her audience. Even in your response when you say you get what she was trying to say, you show that you don’t get it at all. She’s not whining about what happened. She’s warning people.


Thank you for your analysis. I hadn’t realized that in much of the US, state university funding by percentage had collapsed in such a large way.

Given that post-secondary education is such a large part of most student’s life, I’m a bit surprised that politicians are willing to pay the price for cutting support. I wonder if popular support for post-secondary funding dropped as well.

The other alternative is a darker one. The availability of student loans may have made the increase in tuition fees less of a crisis that it would have otherwise been, allowing governments to cut funding without the political repercussion it would have otherwise had.

The student loan program may have allowed millions to get the benefits of post-secondary education that would have otherwise gone without. But it may have unintended long-term costs as well.

Perhaps this evening I’ll see if I can find stats about cross-border comparisons in state post-secondary funding.

I appreciate your thoughtful reply, which is quite different from “reality check” slight you gave in your previous post. So much so that I reread the original article.

My argument, which I must say that haven’t changed like you say, is this: while the author’s intent is to warn others about students taking loans, and BB’s quote is relevant, the amount of damage she inflicted on herself and family is not limited to simply falling for the deceptive practices of Sally Mae. There are many red flags that pop up that raises serious questions about what she left out, and in the end, she glosses over unusually unwise choices that many people can avoid but she gives an impression that her entire generation suffers. I call bollocks in this regard.

One, her first full-time job after getting her masters was mere $20,000 ann. salary. Even given that this was over 5 years ago, that is unusually low for someone with graduate degree. Starting salary for people with her level of education is $60,000. Doesn’t this strike you as strange? Minimal wage salary is $15k! Thats below a lot of grad stipends, and even a lowly postdoc makes twice or more. I know, because I DID all of these things. And that’s lowballing it - I’m nothing special, and most of my peers did earn this or much more, so this is lowballing it.

Earlier, she decided to stay in Bronx with her parents. This could potentially mean that she had to take care of her parents, but given that she moved to other parts of pretty much one of the most expensive place to live indicates that she was likely just trying to save on rent. Why stay there when there are so many lucrative options out there?

You say that you find it offensive that I should suggest to anyone to be practical and find something that actually pays the bill, and it may lead to disastrous consequences. Given that what the author is aiming seems to be more for change in lifestyle than financial success, I say her problem is probably more to do with what she expects out of career than evil banks out there. Yeah, the student loans are evil. Yes, young people should be allowed to make mistakes (I’ve made plenty in far less favorable conditions), but her sense of entitlement and plaintive attitude is barely contained in her writing. So yes, she is likely to be a hopeless idiot, and my implied “advice” to adjust career expectations is simply saying not to be an idiot, and is definitely not meant for her. And yes, I don’t like the author from what I read.

This. And article indicates her parents were against it, but author just turned deaf ears. Zero appreciation shown, which makes me sick to my stomach.

Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people made similar decisions, or much worse, when it came to student loans. She’s not a rare case. The reason it’s a crisis is that so many 17 & 18 year-olds made those mistakes (or, more accurately, were guided into making them by predatory lenders and indifferent colleges) and are now learning just how bad it is.

During the middle of the recession? She was lucky to be employed. Many kids graduating from college and grad school between 2009 and 2014 found that there were zero jobs available in anything near their field. Many experienced professionals were laid off and struggled to find a job in ANY field. I know experienced engineers with a track record of successful projects who worked at sporting goods stores or for the local Parks & Rec during that time. So I think your expectation that she should have been making $60k is lacking the context of the time. The economy was recovering but was far from recovered.


Oh, no, I imagine I’m doomed. The axe simply hasn’t fallen yet.

Yes, there were many layoffs during this perios, but majority of affected workforce were low skilled workers and those nearing retirement. People with advanced degrees were largely unaffected. By 2013, the economy has pretty much fully recovered, so while I’d understand if it was 2009, it’s pretty lame in 2013. Many peers of mine were able to find 6 figure jobs right out the bat by then.

Uh, she’s made pretty bad decisions considering she went to go get her masters. You are not least bit suspicious what she actually studied?

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That is just utter bullshit. Try learning about biomaterials (or any other cutting edge scientific field) on your own, without expert instructors up on the field and mentoring by same.


Me too. Those physics textbooks would be even more difficult if written by someone who hadn’t learned how to write well.


Yup. We’re long past the day when a clever autodidact could achieve a similar education as what universities offered.


“Many layoffs?” It was the worst recession in almost a century! The unemployment rate was double what it is currently, and, as I pointed out, that number fails to include a large number of people who were drastically underemployed. I’m done. You’re delusional.



Well, I’m sorry that we don’t fit your “sky is falling view of the world”, but you should note that unemployment rate is still well below 10% around 2013.

And as I said, people with advanced degree was largely unaffected. I was there in job market around that time and there were plenty of jobs because of recovery, just not enough for unskilled workers. Why is this so hard to digest? I get that you think the world is tough, but it’s far from apocalyptic landscape you described. Why are you labeling me as delusional just because it doesn’t fit your world view?

Ok, if you still don’t want to believe me, let’s break down that chart you’ve shown:

Do you still think I’m delusional? Go check it out yourself:

[Unemployment Rate - College Graduates - Master's Degree, 25 years and over (CGMD25O) | FRED | St. Louis Fed]
(Unemployment Rate - College Graduates - Master's Degree, 25 years and over (CGMD25O) | FRED | St. Louis Fed)

Unemployment rate for masters at 2013 is 3.2%. Yeah, I must be nuts to think job wasn’t hard to find back then :roll_eyes:

Oh, and underemployment? Look here:

Look, if PoC like me that gets discriminated on regular basis says it was easy to find jobs back then with advanced degrees, what do you think this white person’s chances were back then? Tell me: aren’t you even a tiny bit suspicious? Are you still offended?