I can't wait to shout "I FINISHED PAYING SALLIE MAE BACK" in the club.
The Curse of Millennials
Student loan debt is a real fucking problem.
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It's on all of our minds. It's part of Bernie's campaign. It's breathing down our backs and throttling the frail necks of our wallets. It's student loan debt.
Now, the phrase, "student debt," has been uttered to the point where it's become a buzzword. We talk about it so much that when we try to envision the debt itself we think of enormous piles of cash, or canvas sacks with dollar signs on them. Or Scrooge McDuck's vault.
In reality, student loan debt operates more like that scene in The Road to El Dorado where all those women are throwing gold into a whirlpool, except we students are the women, the gold plates are stacks of cash, and the whirlpool is The GovernmentTM (or something equally nebulous and elusive).
We pay it back and it flows through some shady backrooms with exposed pipes and evil businessmen in pinstriped suits smoking fat cigars, sneering at the meager pennies we're able to give up to make progress on our loans.
Where does it go? Wherever FAFSA tells you, because where the money goes isn't as important as the fact that you have to pay it back, and often. Students are in debt for years. People are still paying loans into their 30s or 40s, depending on the size of the loan/interest/cost of schooling. That's a lot of gold to be tossing into that whirlpool.
So, exactly how much are students expected to pay back? According to The Institute For College Access and Success, (which keeps track of statistics like this to wave in Congress's face to show them how they're inhibiting their own rising generation), in 2014, 69 percent of college seniors graduated with debt. Within that 69 percent, the average amount borrowed is about $30,000. In 2015, according to The Wall Street Journal, this spiked up to more than $35,000. Indeed, the trend since 2004 shows that each successive year of graduates is accruing more and more debt.
Why? Short answer: the economy. Because of inflation, school tuition is going up. But because the economy is still staggering around on spindly little chicken legs, student aid grants coming from places like FAFSA aren't keeping up with the demand. There's too much to pay, and too little to cover it because there's too little to go around. Hence all the "FAFSA gave me fourteen dollars this semester," memes. And the sad thing is, that's not even much of a joke.
I'll put it in perspective. A senior in my department was accepted to the School of Visual Arts in New York. A great school, with a great curriculum, and huge out-of-state tuition. Specifically, $30,000 a year, PLUS room and board, PLUS all the other little things you'd have to pay for, like off-campus dining and the subway. The total after all that's added together? Over $56,000. And financial aid was willing to spot this senior a grand total of $10,000.
That much money is a lot to ask of anyone, not even looking at the fact that the $10,000 aid probably comes with a lot of stipulations, such as remaining a full-time student. (Read the fine print so you don't accidentally screw yourself). There's also the small fact that it has to be paid back at some point. So if you're taking, at minimum, a $10,000 loan (which is pretty generous, by the way,) every year for four years, you've got a five-figure sum plus interest you're paying back.
If you go Super Senior, then it gets worse because credit prices get jacked up for part-time students. You can actually end up paying more for ten credits than you would've paid for fifteen.
I suppose it could be worse. This person could have wanted to go to medical school and incur up to $170,000 in student debt, which is mind boggling. Just imagine someone putting a gun to your head and saying you had ten years to pay back $170,000. Would you cry? Because I'd cry.
So let's talk about that, paying it back. We all have to, eventually, and to pay it back you need the money to do so. And to get that money you need a job. And to get a job there need to be: A) job openings, and B) job openings that do not expect grads with degrees to work fifty hours a week for less than $10 an hour.
And as much as our parents tell us to, "pound the pavement and knock on some doors," like it's still 1976 and that's a thing that people can still do, it's becoming more and more difficult to find a job out of college that actually utilizes our degree and pays moderately well.
Here's another story, this time from a member of the class of 2014. It was their first summer out of college and they had that debt to pay off, so they decided to get a job immediately to get a jump on those payments. Problem is, most employers want an inordinate amount of experience for entry level jobs; "2 years prior experience in serving tables," is a real thing I have read. So here they are, fresh out of college with a degree and a resume, and they end up pulling a customer service gig for the first eight months until they get their break.
And that's what we all need to get the ball rolling on those payments; we need that one job that gets us in the door. For some people, (the ones blessed by angels), that job is right out of the graduation gate. For others, it's a few months later, and for others still it can take years to find something that sticks.
This doesn't even count the people that don't graduate and still have loans to pay back, a section of the student debt crisis that goes largely unnoticed. Imagine the problems listed above and having to solve them without a bachelor's degree.
There is one bright spot in all of this, however, and while it doesn't solve the problem, it does lessen it. Again according to The Wall Street Journal, graduates who are landing those big-break jobs are making pretty good salaries. An average of $50,000 a year kind of good. And while no student-loan debt is better than manageable student-loan debt, at this point, in this economy, with the amount of stress our generation is under?
Let's take what we can fucking get, honestly.
6 Things To Keep In Mind The Summer After Graduation
School is out... forever!
You've graduated! WOO!! FINALLY!! No more exams! You officially have a piece of paper that says you did something the past four years of your life! But once you've made it to that long ride up the roller coaster, it quickly all comes crashing down at 90 mph and you have no idea where the track leads. This is the real world, baby!
The first year of this ride can be a bumpy one, but when we're forced to make many decisions all at once, it's really important to remind ourselves of these things, particularly the summer after graduation.
1. Stick to your principles.
When you have thousands of dollars in student loans to pay off, it can be easy to throw away your beliefs and principles at the offer of a hefty salary. While paying off loans is vital (unless you want to be chased down by the feds), your happiness and sanity is also extremely important, especially post graduation with all these new changes.
One of my friends accepted a job last fall with a firm she previously stated was the equivalent of "selling your soul to the devil." Now she's earning a great paycheck, living in a great city (CHI TOWWWN), but she's miserable.
2. Living at home is normal.
Again, student loans are difficult to pay back, and many starting jobs don't pay the rent. Living at home to start out is completely normal and doesn't mark you as a failure. Heck, my step brother lived at home by choice until he was 30, despite having a great paying job. That said, it is likely you'll lose some perks of independence at the cost of free rent.
3. Never compare yourself to others.
Before I found my current job in Spain, I was working at a gym folding towels all summer. Needless to say, I felt pathetic compared to my friends who were working on the Hill or starting out at 85k. I had to remind myself that they were pursuing careers I had zero interest in. In the States, we focus far too much on success being tied to your career and salary. At the end of the day your personal pursuits and happiness are what count.
4. Taking time for yourself is HEALTHY.
Deciding you want to spend a few months, or heck, even a few years to evaluate your life and do that thing you always wanted to do is always an option. It's not lazy, it's HEALTHY, and a whole lot better than getting funneled into something that makes you miserable.
5. You will have low moments.
And for some of you, that may mean REALLY LOW, cry your eyes out and not want to leave your bedroom moments.
6. Stay positive.
This might be the hardest thing. If you're continuously rejected from jobs due to "lack of experience" or who even knows what, while your friends seem to "have it made", it can be really difficult to keep pursuing and staying optimistic. Trust me when I say THINGS WILL WORK OUT so long as you don't expect something to fall in your lap. Just keep grinding and remember to keep your head up, it's all a part of the ride.
Nicki Minaj Pays College Costs Of Fans On Twitter
Talk about an A+ act.
Student loans and college payments got you sweatin'? For many, loans can add up to tens, even a hundred thousand dollars after just four years in school. Don't even get me started on grad school.
It's simply fact that the expenses to get a university degree in the US are ridiculously high and extremely cost-prohibitive for many people, even forcing some to drop out because they couldn't make the payments.
Considering how necessary it is to have a degree to pursue most careers, these exorbitant costs are truly an injustice. To help out with a few students struggling to pay the bills, Nicki Minaj took to twitter offering to provide financial assistance to fans who could prove a) their educational expenses and b) that they had straight A's.
Show me straight A's that I can verify w/ur school and I'll pay it. Who wants to join THAT contest?!?!???? Dead serious. Shld I set it up? https://t.co/czH715u64a-- NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) May 7, 2017
As expected, the tweet and challenge spread like wildfire, as more than 25 thousand people retweeted the offer and almost two thousand responded. Thousands of screenshots of perfect transcripts and tuition costs were sent to the rap star, who directly responded to a number of fans stating she'd pay.
There were also a slew of tweets from fans who didn't quite get the marks... because really, how do people get a 4.0 in college?
With all the overwhelming responses, Nicki ended up selecting close to 30 individual, paying fees to cover partial tuitions, loans, textbooks, even a camera. She even joked about not having any money left after all her donations, although with her fourth studio album expecting to drop later this year we're pretty sure that will never happen.
Ok u guys. It's been fun. Let me make those payments tmrw then see if I have any money left?. I'll do some more in a month or 2. ???????????-- NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) May 7, 2017
If you missed your opportunity, or weren't one of the lucky few to be chosen, Nicki has promised to do ANOTHER round in a few months to help more fans relieve themselves of some of the financial burdens (and in turn, emotional burdens) acquired in college. Talk about an A+ act.
Today's College Students Really Are Broke
It's not their fault, and lawmakers need to act accordingly.
We're not saying this just as a punchline, college students really are broke. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that millennials, many of whom are in college, spend less money than previous generations.
The media loves to shit on us for being a bunch of cheap degenerate snobs. But these stories are out of touch, and other factors have directed our spending habits.
One of the main factors is the student debt we carry. In today's economy, employers' demand for employees with college degrees has gone up in recent years, causing millennials to pursue a college education at a higher rate compared to other generations. This has proven to be problematic however, as government spending on college per student has gone down since the 1960s, and has sharply decreased since 2008 due to the financial collapse. Because of this, many college students find ourselves drowning in student debt. Americans as a whole owe $1.2 trillion in student debt, and most of that is owned by millennials. 63 percent of millennials have at least $10,000 in student debt, and a third of us owe more than $30,000.
Due to factors like student debt, we're spending less of our paychecks on consumer goods than generations past. And this has come with economic consequences. On average, millennials spend 27 percent less on discretionary consumer goods than Generation X does. If this trend continues, businesses could end up in deep trouble, because sales from consumer spending is what gives them the ability to hire workers and make investments into the economy. With profit margins falling, businesses won't have the adequate revenues to hire us when we're out of college, lowering our ability to generate an income which will lead to even less consumer spending, making it harder for us to pay off our student debt, and thus creating a viscous cycle of economic and social anxiety.
How should the government respond?
One of the most direct solutions to alleviate our student debt woes would be to make college tuition free (of charge to students). This will do two things. First, it'll allow anyone who's academically qualified to pursue higher education, the ability to go off to college. With more students receiving college educations, the workforce will be enriched with much more skilled and productive employees to hire. Second, we can spend more of our incomes on goods and services, rather than paying off loans. This increase in consumer spending will act as a huge boost to the American economy.
Another way to help out college students would be to increase the budget deficit. This is a necessary policy tool for the government to implement, otherwise the United States economy could see itself in prolonged recession. Many people would find this concerning, but it's necessary because a deficit means the government poured more money into the pockets of consumers than it took away from us in taxes. And as I explain in an article I wrote in the past, the deficit is nothing more than an accounting identity reflecting the state of economy and private sector consumer spending levels.
Lastly, for those of us currently struggling with loans, paying them back would be made easier if the Federal Reserve lowered their interest rates. The Fed's recent rate hikes have made it more expensive for millions of college students to pay back our loans.
Adult Braces are A Thing
Especially when you didn't wear your retainer in high school.
I pray to God that someone else can relate to this horrible experience which is 100 percent self-imposed. Yup, I'm one of those dumbasses who has not worn a retainer for the last five years, and is now facing the consequences.
I was unlucky enough as a kid to go through years of the pain and embarrassment of a mouth full of metal. Add three years of braces and subtract a retainer and what do you get? Thousands of dollars out the window and a perfect smile gone to shit.
I was lucky enough, however, that my parents allowed me to have braces, which are in some cases a luxury that not everyone can afford. I am now one of those people. My parents aren't gonna pay thousands of dollars twice!
When your orthodontist tells you to wear your retainer every night, HE IS SERIOUS, KIDS. I wish my pea sized 15-year-old brain could have understood that.
Now, I'm a college student who is faced with the prospect of yet again another set of braces. (Fingers crossed for Invisalign.) How am I gonna come up with around $5,000 when I'm living the college life and can barely afford to go to McDonalds for dinner, let alone pay off my student loans in the future?
The prospect of adult braces is extremely unsettling. They were bad enough in middle school and early high school. I already look young for my age, so I can just imagine going to the bar on my 21st birthday, ordering a drink, then being laughed out of the building. I want to travel back in time and meet my adolescent self and smash her damn head into a wall. Then tell her to put her fucking retainer back in.
Moral of the story, DON'T BE A DUMBASS. Unless you want to be set back thousands of dollars and be the butt of many future adult braces jokes, I beg you to put your retainer back in before it's too late.