So, before I say anything, I need you all to understand that I am a bleeding heart liberal. I voted for Obama and I will vote for him again next November. I oppose the death penalty with my whole heart, am pro-choice and opposed to religion being all up in my government. I don’t like guns and I don’t think that everyone should be able to drive to Walmart and get one. I want the wealthy to be taxed the very same percent as the middle class and I cannot understand how anyone is opposed to that.
And as far as I can tell based on what I’ve read, I support the Occupy Wall Street movement. With one exception.
I am a full time graduate student. My husband is a relatively newly graduated doctor. We are basically connoisseurs of student loans. When I finish with grad school in May, between the two of us we’ll just a hair shy of $500,000 in debt for our educations. That is no chump change. And though my husband has good earning potential (not as great as you think), I will probably never exceed $65,000 a year no matter how long I work.
And so it is from this perspective that I whole heartedly disagree with the protesters who are trying to get the government to forgive student loans. And ESPECIALLY the ones who are comparing it to slavery. Student loans are NOT slavery. And not only is it moderately offensive to say that, it’s also just stupid.
Before I go any further, I need to acknowledge that I understand that there are many new graduates who cannot find a job and I do wholeheartedly believe that there absolutely need to be better ways to defer loans for those are unemployed. Forbearance is not a reasonable option in this economy and so for those struggling to pay their loans back while unemployed, my heart goes out to you. But other than that, I cannot feel sorry for people with student loan debt. You are not slaves. You chose your school and it was no secret what the cost would be.
I don’t expect every student to be able to get scholarships or hold a full time job, that’s unrealistic. But it’s not unrealistic to expect students to pay back the money they borrow for their education. That’s called being a grown up. You make promises, you keep them. You say you’re going to do something, you do it. This is not slavery, this is adulthood. Suck it up and deal. No one expects you to enjoy giving away a chunk of your income, but you don’t get to go to college for free because you don’t want to pay back your loans.
I abhor the idea of paying back loans for the next 20+ years, I hate that we won’t be able to own a house for quite some time because our student loan payments will be prohibitively high. But I knew that when I chose my graduate program. I knew it was more expensive than other programs, I knew it was a serious financial commitment and I plan to stick by it. I made a choice and though following through with it sucks, I’m going to do it anyway. Life is a series of choices and it’s time to take responsibility for them.
I can only hope that more students, including my fellow bleeding heart liberals, can grow up and do the same. No one’s asking you to like it, but for the love of God, stop comparing it to an institution that forced a race of people into manual labor against their wills. You should know it’s not the same.
Or maybe we should be talking to your schools about teaching American history a little more thoroughly.
Picture: CNN iReport