College finance and the crushing debt that goes with it


These days, primary school kids, as early as even the 4th grade, are seemingly hounded constantly about going to college when they graduate high school.

By the time they reach high school, these kids are so stoked about going to college that they’re willing to sign on the dotted line without so much as even a passing glance at the total, very real, economics that surround that dotted line.

College is in for the long game when it comes to their bottom line. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be pressuring kids, as early as the 4th grade, to begin preparing for college.

In the 90’s, there was the American tragedy of graduating kids from high school that couldn’t read. These days we’re facing another American tragedy — Graduating kids from high school that don’t know anything about finance/economics.

Economic illiteracy reigns supreme in a nation that encourages crushing debt. You aren’t ever going to move ahead in life until you have a bunch of stuff that you’ll never own.

Teach any kid that can rub two brain cells together basic finance/economics in high school and this whole student loan fiasco would simply disappear.
Kids are smart, but they can’t make truly informed decisions if they’re ignorant to the realities of finance. Informed decisions don’t do anything to further the cause of higher educations bottom line, so primary and secondary education conveniently dismisses curricula that involves finance. If I didn’t know better, I’d have to say that there are some pretty strong connections between the lenders and higher education.

When I went to college I very quite nearly starved to death. My job didn’t involve picking fly poop out of pepper for $2.65 an hour at Safeway, but it was close — I worked split shifts at Sambo’s washing dishes and cooking. After Freshman year in the dorms, I got a studio apartment and paid $40 a week in rent. It was outrageous. How in the sam hell was I ever going to survive this. I didn’t have the so-called luxury of getting a student loan tailored to fit my lifestyle complete with deferred payments that included accruing interest during the deferment period. Maybe it’s just as well that I didn’t, because in hindsight, my degree was the very most expensive worthless piece of paper I ever bought, and there it sits, in the drawer, along with the nail clippers and a half used tube of chap stick. In hindsight, I would have been dollars ahead by getting a free paper sack at the Buttery Foods checkout line.

Most kids that graduate high school are already broke even in spite of the fact that they might have a job, and still, here they are, being bullshitted into believing that getting that $130K (+ accruing rates of 3.22%-13.95% fixed) degree is going to land them in the upper echelons of great power and wealth, when in reality all they’ll end up with is a $45K job schilling for the state (in some assigned department), or in a worse case scenario, not getting any kind of job short of flipping burgers at McDonald’s because their chosen field of study has left them in a market so saturated that the coveted job won’t be available for at least 20 years or even ever. In the meantime, here they all are, having to deal with the crushing debt of all of that accrued interest.

Though my degree be fairly worthless, all was not lost. I’ve taken certain elements of my college education and applied them to industries that didn’t require a degree, and I’m quite pleased at the over all end results. The days of having to turn my tired eyes in reference to what was hanging on the wall are long gone.

I don’t think that kids these days are truly aware of college finance and the crushing debt that goes with it. Deferment on the principle but not the interest is the man that stands behind the curtain pulling all of the levers and pressing all the buttons.

So what causes a kid to willingly (short of being ignorant of over all financing to begin with) agree to the predatory lending practices of college financing so eagerly? We could look at the ostracizing nature of ones peers when they learn that one doesn’t plan on going to college. We can also look at the $55K a year teacher that has no desire to move beyond such a low pay scale. We can also understand that “looks” are 90% of the sale. If it doesn’t look good, then we don’t look good. Go along to get along … and so it goes and so it goes and so it goes.

When I tell my Son’s high school teachers that we are considering trade school, they turn me off like a light. I suppose that’s fine. This whole town is chocked full of C+ average people that get on quite nicely that never went to college … many of them make twice to three times the money than a BA would and they’re pretty fine with that.

My opinion of the student debt crisis in this nation is such that says, any institution that promoted a deferment program that didn’t also include interest in that deferment should have to eat the so-called cost on their own. The student should be able to just walk away from the note free and clear without it reflecting badly on their credit score, and the government should stay the the hell away from paying off any of these types of loans.

It would be a win/win for the student and the taxpayers, and a wake up call to the lending institutions that didn’t already do the right thing to begin with.


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