Sam D. Miller

Marketer and YouTuber based in Atlanta

Who’s to Blame for Your Student Debt?

As I write this, former President Bill Clinton just concluded a speech endorsing his wife at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The United States is in the heat of an exhausting political season. Hillary’s presidential campaign recently announced new proposals on higher education, one involving eliminating college tuition for families with annual incomes under $125,000 per year, and others involving lowering federal student loan interest rates, making tuition free at all community colleges, and instituting a three-month moratorium on all federal student loan payments.

Let’s take a minute to reel in the rest of Hillary’s plan. Her plan would cost some $350 billion over ten years and would be paid for, as the Hillary campaign claims, by limiting “certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers.” I’ve dug for more details on what certain tax expenditures are in this case, with no luck. Yes, it’s election season and lots of claims are made with zero sound financial basis, but come on. I have $20,000 in loan debt I still owe to Uncle Sam, but I signed my name on the dotted line seven years ago and made a commitment to pay that money back when I got out of school.

Under Hillary’s proposal, students in college simply have to work ten hours per week to do their part in making their tuition free. Just ten hours per week? And hardworking taxpayers take care of the rest? What a dream! If you can’t detect my sarcasm, I apologize. As someone who received two bachelor’s degrees in four years, spent most semesters loaded with 18 credit hours, spent around 20 hours or more each week at a part-time job, served two internships, served as news editor for my college paper, and had quite the normal social life at college, mind you, I find the ten-hour requirement laughably low.

Nearly all of my friends in college had part-time jobs and spent well over ten hours each week at work. My college girlfriend did not get financial help from her parents, and had to mark their income on her initial FAFSA, meaning she was burdened with debt since their income was relatively high and her student aid package didn’t provide much relief. She had to work two part-time jobs each year in school, often clocking in over 40 hours of work each week, and came out of undergrad with around $50,000 in debt. But no one forced her to go to school and no one forced her to sign those loans. Rather it was on her, and her alone, to work hard throughout college and get a meaningful degree that would eventually help her pay off her debt and earn a rewarding wage.

Back to Hillary, there are numerous aspects in her plan I have a hard time with. Hillary’s proposal factsheet goes on to state that “families will do their part by making an affordable and realistic family contribution.” What does this mean? Who’s judging what’s affordable and realistic? Never mind, since it’s beyond the scope of this conversation. The short version of this rant is that nobody is to blame for your student debt besides yourself. You signed up for the debt, you went to school and received an education, and now you have to pay back your loans. Every other debt you acquire in life will work the same way. Nothing is free. You should be the one to repay your debt, and if you don’t, the money is coming from someone else’s pocket.

If you have a worthless degree, that’s your fault. If you and your family didn’t understand the loans you signed up for, I’m sorry you were too young at 17 or 18 to fully grasp the financial implications you were getting yourself into, but nonetheless, that’s also your fault. So is dropping out of college, refusing to work while in college, not getting internships, and not finding work when you graduate. I have nothing against Democrats, in fact I don’t necessarily identify as Republican, but I do firmly believe that you should not rely on the government to support you and your failures. You have to go out, hunt, and bring something home for your family. And there’s no other place I’d rather undertake that responsibility than in America.

TL;DR: You’re to blame! Now go pay it off!

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