OK folks, so I have a lot of debt. A.LOT.OF.DEBT. Some of it is a direct result of my inability to not purchase $200 jeans and pretty bobbles to hang from my ears. That debt I hate, but accept as the physical manifestation of my complete lack of self-control, and therefore sort of ok. The rest…the bulk…the overwhelming majority is student loan debt. Debt that I got so that I could become an attorney, something I wanted since I was 15. (Ed. Note: Why didn’t anyone try to keep me from going to law school? Should anyone do what they wanted to do when they were 15!?! If my kids ever claim to want to go to law school I am staging an intervention and locking them in a basement until they come to their senses and choose to play a professional sport … or join a rock band).
Anyway, undergraduate and law school are expensive when you come from a state which has no in-state law school wherein one can get a cheap(er) education. Moreover, undergraduate and law school are expensive when you come from a state like Alaska, and you have been dreaming since you were 12 of leaving the forced isolation that is that state and moving somewhere that you can … oh … I don’t know … drive to another state in less than a week.
So … I have a lot of debt. This week I paid off one of my private loans. It was a measly loan, representing approximately 7% of my total debt load, but I paid it off and I was so excited that I called my mom and posted the momentous news on one of the mommy blog forums that I frequent. Go me! Erasing Debt! Making progress towards living the American Dream! Woo Hoo! Then I thought I should see what’s shakin’ with my other loans. Maybe, I thought to myself, I am mere payments away from knocking those puppies out. Oh .. ho … ho … ho interwebs. How naive I was. After checking on those other loans, I determined that I owe approximately what I owed when I left school and started paying down those debts … seven years ago. SEVEN.YEARS.AGO. (Must place in CAPS for full effect. FULL.EFFECT.) You see, even though my debts are consolidated at a ridiculously low interest rate, apparently when you pay the bare minimum that you have to pay, you actually pay almost the exact amount of interest as you do principle. So even though I left school with an undisclosed-enormously-huge-awe-inspiring-crushing amount of debt, I will end up paying an undisclosed-enormously-huge-awe-inspiring-crushing amount back – times two (TIMES.TWO!)
I know this is well-covered territory, and I’m not saying anything new, but shoot people – our educational system is full on effing crazy. Nowadays you pretty much have to get a college education to get even the most basic entry level job paying $30,000 a year. But you can’t get a college education unless you take out massive loans far outstripping you potential earning capacity – particularly in light of the fact that half your salary will probably go to pay your insurance premiums so that you can be told that your insurance company won’t pay for your husband’s spinal surgery because you did not seek out the cheapest possible spinal surgeon – because that is really where you want to be clipping coupons – you know – on your spine (I wish I were joking, my insurance company – that I will call BlAenta – told me that they would not pay for the spinal surgery because I did not seek out a really good deal when shopping for spinal surgeons). I digress. My hatred for health care is a whole other post – or essay, possibly a book, more likely a epic manifesto to be published in the New York Times before I commit some kind of act of terrorism against the insurance companies. (Ed. Note: FBI Agents reading this, I’m just joking).
Back on topic. I know a lot of people will say .. but scholarships! Grants! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps young lass! That’s cool and all, but really, what if you are like me. Not that into school until about sophomore year, so that you have two years of only mediocre grades, followed by two years of good grades. No one will give that girl a scholarship. Or what if, as is the more common scenario, you were just born into a crappy home, with crappy parents, in a crappy neighborhood, that had crappy schools, giving you a completely crappy education so that even though you wanted to succeed you never learned basic skills like reading and math and never had your mind engaged because art, music and sport had been cut from your school’s budget. So you did not do well on your SAT/ACTs, you know you should go to college, but you can only get into a subpar one with limited job prospects, no scholarships were offered and you had to pay for it all yourself. Maybe you only needed to take out $20,000 in loans, but really, even that amount is daunting if you are making next to nothing (or if you are totally unemployed like lots of college graduates are nowadays).
I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how we are going to pay for Aiman to go to school. I don’t know if I will ever pay off my student loan debt. And I don’t know why I pay nearly 40% of my salary to taxes, but don’t get the same kinds of services people in other Western countries get (like, you know, essentially free higher education and health care).
So there is my rant. I paid off a student loan and it just irritated me more. And if you made it to the end of this diatribe, you deserve this:
P.S. And on a totally different note. I am sometimes in complete awe of the power of the internet. I follow a lot of blogs written by people who have suffered unimaginable losses. One in particular, http://thespohrsaremultiplying.com hits really close to home and makes me want to scoop up Aiman and love him up every chance I get. Yesterday, a friend of the woman who writes that blog suffered a massive stroke. I had never heard of her before, but I went to her blog to find a really hilarious woman who seems to have been able to maintain her humor through the most painful of circumstances (a young child with cancer) and really do some good in the process. I have now seen dozens of blogs wishing this blogger well and setting up a support network for her and her family. These kinds of things give me hope (even though the circumstances are painfully sad) that people are genuinely good and truly want to be there for each other. So I will add my voice to the chorus. Get well Anissa, you and your family are in my thoughts.