As a general rule, I try avoid getting too fired up about divisive topics on this blog. Oh wait, that's a lie. Regardless, I am once again going to shatter that dogma to talk to my peeps about my feelings on one facet of this election year's politics: student loan forgiveness.
I come at this issue from two separate perspectives: as an Arizona college graduate and as an employee at a high school in Los Angeles. I have seen and experienced both sides. I went to school in a state where the governor passed a law requiring that school be as affordable as possible. As such, I started school (during the Bush administration) with a $5,000 scholarship that covered my entire first year of tuition, and could be renewed for the following three years. During that time, tuition increased dramatically - but when you're only paying $5,000 a year to begin with (or in my case, nothing at all), an extra $2,000 a year seems exorbitant.
And then I moved to California and began working with Los Angeles Unified School District. I started to see how paltry my education costs actually were. I started paying attention to the news, to the Occupiers whose tenets aligned with debt reduction or forgiveness, and I started to see a trend: colleges with ever-rising rates and students, particularly low- and middle-class students, with ever-mounting debt. As student debt rises to over $1 trillion (more than credit card debt), how can we continue to ignore the problem?
And it is a problem. It's a problem that University of California schools cost more than Harvard for middle-class students. It's a problem that institutions of higher education saddle their students with a debt they will not recover from in this type of economy. It's a big problem that the fees associated with attending school are so exorbitant that it completely alienates the working class, and thereby increases the gap of earning potential. It's an even bigger problem that emerging high school students feel so entitled to an education that they will borrow any amount instead of shopping around for the best price.
Paying through my own nose to attend school embittered me toward Arizona and its educational system, but also to students who refused to work to fund their own education. I was an anomaly amongst my friends and peers - I simultaneously held down five jobs and internships while taking 18 credit hours. I arrived at school before eight every morning and didn't leave until midnight or later most nights. I worked hard to graduate with minimal debt (it will be paid off at the end of August, a little more than a year after I graduated).
So, if I worked so damn hard, who the hell do these people think they are, that their debt should be magically forgiven with funds that could be used to, oh I don't know, provide better educational opportunities for all, fund women's health issues (thanks for trying to take that one away, Mitt), or provide resources for returning vets? Sorry, 18-25 year olds, but that's not how the real world works. I mean, I know that's how the real world worked for the banks, but as I have learned from my four years of acting like an adult, you can't expect anyone to take care of you - not your mommy and daddy, not the government, not your BFF - because, let's face it, they have real adult problems to deal with, like feeding the children!
So can we all just agree that the people jumping on this loan forgiveness bandwagon are selfish opportunists? Why should I, or anyone else, have to pay for your need to attend the best of the best? I got a better-than-average education that I paid for with hard work; I don't want to take away opportunities to achieve a higher degree, but I certainly don't want to have to finance it with more of my hard work.
Note: I feel like I have talked about how education is the next bubble to burst, but can't find it anywhere in previous blogs. Maybe I have just been running my mouth a lot, but I could have sworn I have already rampaged on how the educational system collapse will occur, just as surely did the housing collapse. Takeaway: I'm an effing genius.