Entitled Debtors

When I read these stories, I’m always confused as to what the author expects the reaction to be:

I have $235,000 of student debt. The first $120,000 came with a bachelor’s degree from my state school. Another $70,000 or so came with my master’s degree. The remainder is accrued interest.

This sounds completely insane. I work at a state school and can’t begin to imagine what one needs to do to rack up this sort of debt.

I understand paying more taxes to help the disadvantaged. But paying more taxes – and facing the probable closure of my state school that serves students who face real hardship – to benefit this kind of entitled, irresponsible folks? No, not really.

If this guy’s debt disappears, what’s the likelihood that he won’t rack up the same amount within a couple of years? He clearly learned nothing. Tomorrow he’ll decide he needs a house he can’t afford or that he’s investing in his future by traveling around the world.

Instead of debt forgiveness, the government – which owns student debt – should stop lending money for people to go into $70,000 master’s programs they can’t afford when there are great ones costing $8,000 and offering employment to more than offset that number.

I really, really detest this approach of “I spent ridiculous amounts on something non-essential and now everybody owes me.” $120,000 BAs are absolutely non-essential because you can get degrees for a lot less and pay for them as you go by working. Like my students do. Why do I and my responsible, non-entitled students have to pay for the luxuries of this entitled individual?

If his parents have $600 a month to pay to service the debt, he could have gone to my school (or a local one like it) and with a bit of effort graduated debt-free. It wouldn’t have the prestige of the one he did go to but prestige is something you need to be able to afford.

8 thoughts on “Entitled Debtors”

  1. People accept predatory FA arrangements without realizing what they are doing, and aren’t well advised into graduate programs. The people I know with huge surprise debts didn’t fully understand how the interest on the loans they took would work. My own financial situation isn’t as bad as that but I definitely made decisions based on advice available at the time that has not turned out to be the best.

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    1. Agreed. Not just in the graduate realm, but no 18-year-old high schooler has any clue about what taking on such massive debt means or its later consequences. Much of higher education and the loan sharks who support it are symbiotes who parasitize young people and their aspirations. Kids are told to get into the best, most prestigious college they can no matter how much it costs. There is no countervailing advice available to them. It’s a system designed to prey on the young and to extract money from them for life.

      Not everyone is guilty of this, of course. People like the owner of this blog who are interested in pedagogy and want to teach are not. But it’s wrong to blame the students who are extremely naïve, very young, and have no one offering them valid guidance. Literally every bit of society is militating against making good decisions here.

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      1. We have 14,000 students just on my campus who did manage to figure out that they can’t afford to carry a quarter of a million debt and went to our school, which is the cheapest in the state. So it’s not completely impossible.

        I talked to a group of high school students recently, all children of immigrants like this guy. The #1 question from them was the cost and how to make college cheaper, whether it makes sense financially to go to community college and then transfer, etc. I honestly think that if I suggested they take out a $120,000 loan to go to college, they’d laugh in my face. So it’s not impossible to be reasonable about it.

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    2. Tomorrow he’ll be badly advised to buy a Lamborghini by predatory car sellers. Or a house he can’t afford on the advice of predatory real estate agents. And so on.

      This guy learned nothing. He feels not an ounce of guilt or responsibility. Where’s the evidence he will stop borrowing?

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  2. I would like to hear the details on the $120,000 debt from the BA from a state school. That’s a huge number for going to a public university.

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    1. Cost of attendance (tuition, room and board in the least expensive dorm, book rental, small amount of petty cash for incidentals) is $20K per year and it takes six years to get the courses you need to graduate, and you work and have scholarships to cover some of it, but you also have interest, so there are your $120K.

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      1. Of course, if one is purposefully trying to choose the most expensive option and rack up the most debt, there are ways to do that. But if this is his mentality, even if tuition were free, what’s to stop him from getting into as much debt anyway?

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