Got Student Loans?

Student loans suck. There are no two ways about it. Graduating from school, after working so hard is supposed to be a highlight in young people’s lives, and instead it’s now a burdensome debt sentence.

I can’t accurately describe how different my psychological landscape would be if I was debt free from my evil student loans.  Of course, I dream of traveling, having more in retirement and savings and overall being financially stable.  But I also think what a better person I could be, how I could help others and what I could contribute to society. I used to have dreams of starting my own non-profit.  I used to have dreams of doing development work in the arts overseas.  I used to have a top ten list of organizations I would donate to. The list goes on and on of my derailed dreams and things I am just not comfortable pursuing right now because of my 55k (originally 68k!) in student loan debt.

While this blog attempts to not always have a pity party and is intended to inspire me and others in their debt payoff journeys, it can be hard. It’s hard to watch those ideas slip through your fingers. It’s a bitter reality when you are making less money, with more debt than before you went back to school.

Luckily, people are now realizing the detrimental affects of student loans and understanding exactly how vast and deep the problem runs. Student loans currently surpass all credit card debt and economists think it’s the next bubble to crash. I sure hope so! Burn, burn, away with interest! Ok, I digress.  Ultimately, the conversation around student loans is changing. When I went to undergrad, no one was really talking about it. When I started grad school, the initial conversations were brewing but now it’s everywhere and a hot topic. There are even some organizations that are creatively problem solving and offering some assistance to those with student loans.

Sponsor Change– Do you live in Pittsburgh? This might be the thing for you!

Mission provides non-profits a solution to increase their impact. Non-profits can easily recruit skilled college graduates to complete service projects and raise funds from sponsors to reward their work with student loan payments, helping both non-profits and college graduates reach their full potential.

I don’t know the people at SponsorChange, but I think what they are doing is bloody brilliant.  It helps college graduates give back to the community, with some incentive to actually pay off their loans. It seems more project based, which is attractive to me. From my knowledge, they are just starting out in Pittsburgh, but hoping to spread. I hope it spreads like wild fire and can have chapters all over the nation. Imagine, doing good and paying off your debt? How cool is that?

As some of you may now, I protested student loans at Occupy Wall Street in NYC in October 2011. I met so many people whose lives have changed from the perils of student loans. Coupled with the crippling economy, lack of health insurance and high interest loans, we were all there fighting for a cause. It was a magical time really. I have never felt so connected to a cause, so not-alone.  Strike debt, is a group that formed from the Occupy movement and is creating a supportive community for those burdened by debt.

Strike Debt

We are not a loan. Strike Debt came from a coalition of Occupy groups looking to build popular resistance to all forms of debt imposed on us by the banks. Debt keeps us isolated, ashamed, and afraid. We are building a movement to challenge this system while creating alternatives and supporting each other. We want an economy where our debts are to our friends, families, and communities — and not to the 1%.

The Rolling Jubilee is so awesome!

The Rolling Jubilee

We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it. We cannot buy specific individuals’ debt—instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.

We kicked off this effort on November 15 with The People’s Bailout, a variety show and telethon in NYC. All proceeds will go directly to buying people’s debt and cancelling it.

Another brilliant idea! They are helping people get out of debt by messing with the system! I am not sure exactly how that works, but I am so inspired by these ideas of hope and change. Because in the end, that is what I am relying on to get me through this. Hope and Change—for a better future, a better life, to get back to some kind of normal.


3 responses to “Got Student Loans?

  1. I think it’s cool that you protested student loans at OWS! It’s sad that there’s still millions of people who don’t see or understand just how burdensome, debilitating and predatory these student loans are…they think we’re being irresponsible and whiny because we signed a contract.
    While Rolling Jubilee is a great idea, it won’t do much for student loan debt, and it would only be able to maybe help with private student loans in default. From their FAQ page: “Can Rolling Jubilee abolish student debt?
    Student debt has surpassed $1 trillion partly because it is one of the most protected forms of debt by federal law. Student debtors can rarely discharge their loans in bankruptcy and lenders have rights to garnish wages and social security payments. The vast majority of student loans have these federal guarantees. We cannot buy these loans because there is no secondary market. However, we believe it may be possible to buy private tuition debt of some sort that is not guaranteed by the federal government; Rolling Jubilee may attempt to purchase this kind of debt after doing further research.”
    There’s also this new Stampede thing where they are trying renegotiate terms and interest rates with lenders…but you have to pay a commission fee if you settle.
    There’s also which might help you start up a business or non-profit. Not quite sure how that one works but you get backers who donate but you’re supposed to contribute x amount of your income for x amount of years depending on whatever the agreement is.
    There’s also kickstarter or indiegogo for crowdfunding if you want to start up a nonprofit…good luck and don’t give up!

  2. What a cool idea Sponsor Change is – hopefully it will gain popularity! I agree student loan interest rates are pretty ridiculous – hopefully the two other orgs can change that.

  3. Thank goodness my loans are paid off. I think as a society we’re just starting to understand how much huge student loans impact our lives (delaying starting a family, can’t afford to buy a home, can’t afford to help our kids pay for school because we’re still paying our own loans etc.).

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