Let me tell you about my college debt story in light of the recent news that the Biden administration is discussing student loan forgiveness. I was the only one paying attention to the financial assistance workshop at Northeastern University’s undergraduate orientation when I was 18 years old. Because I had no one to chat to and no cell phone to play with, I was unable to focus on my studies.
That’s how I ended up at Northeastern University, where they had a study abroad agreement with the American University of Paris, which was my dream school but which an admissions officer told me was not worth the amount of debt I would have to take out in order to graduate from AUP, despite the fact that they offered me a half scholarship. As a result of her recommendation, I ended up at Northeastern University.
In the financial assistance class, I had an epiphany: Even with the hefty scholarship granted, I would still be taking out an enormous amount of student loan debt in order to attend college in the first place. If my beginning wage is $35,000, my monthly loan payment will be half that amount before taxes, which is what I calculated from the repayment schedule in front of me.
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As an 18-year-old, I was in a unique situation: I had no other options after graduating from high school, unlike most of the students at that financial aid session. My mother had passed away, and my relationship with my father had soured. Because there was no “home” or financial safety net to return to, moving was impossible.
To cover my living expenses after graduating, I’ll require every penny of my paycheck. As soon as the workshop ended, I walked out of it and went to see my orientation leader learn how to drop out of college before I’d even started classes. Kassandra Jones, a 28-year-old New Yorker, racked up a student loan debt of $165,000 despite making numerous attempts to lower her educational expenses.
A local school in my neighborhood instead accepted me the month before classes began, it was City College of New York. First-floor, roach-infested, air mattress didn’t inflate once for the whole time I owned it, while I worked a full-time job and went to school full-time and often had less than $20 in my wallet at any one moment. I had had my utilities cut off and had to rely on the generosity of my friends to get me through the interim between paychecks.
At Rutgers University in New Jersey, I would work full-time and attend classes for three years before graduating with a fraction of the debt I would have accrued at Northeastern had it not been for this decision.
To say that I made sacrifices in order to complete college debt-free is an understatement of the year. And the hard work didn’t stop there: even during the months when I was barely scraping by, I never missed a single loan payment until they were fully paid off ten years after I graduated.
As a college student in 2008 amid a recession, when most of my classmates were begging for a job at Starbucks, I was able to leverage my previous work experience to secure an interview. Asked what made me different from the other recent graduates who were also competing for the same position, I told my future boss about working 40 hours a week while also attending school full-time.
People like myself (and my parents) have taken tough decisions and worked hard to accept responsibility for the debt we took on in order to obtain a college degree and consequently boost our earning potential. Those without a college degree make up the majority of the population and should not be made to foot the bill for those who have chosen to incur debt in order to have access to better job prospects.
According to some sources reporting earlier this month, President Biden’s proposed debt forgiveness proposal would have unexpected rippling consequences that would cost taxpayers and achieve nothing for future college students, leaving the subject of college affordability unsolved.
The political repercussions among the wider electorate aren’t on Democrats’ radar, but they should be, since while many in Biden’s base might selfishly celebrate more free money from Uncle Sam, As someone who has worked and sacrificed for many years, I find the idea of debt forgiveness a stinging disappointment.
As a culture, we used to encourage those traits, but if Biden has his way, we’ll be sending a totally different message to the next generation. For more such updates do follow us only on leedaily.com