Fallout on Main Street: College Debt 101
By David Murdock
CLAIRE, ONE OF FOUR SIBLINGS IN COLLEGE: Paying for school is becoming—like, it’s a really big burden on my parents and everything. My mom’s taken up a second job, actually, and they’re doing the best they can. But me working is helping them out a lot. I’m going to continue working, and I might have to start working more. I only work three shifts right now, but I might have to take up more to help them, because the economy now is just going down, and everyone’s feeling the effects of it.
PAUL, ESTIMATES HE WILL GRADUATE WITH $20,000 DEBT: My parents lost a lot of money in, like, the credit mix-up thing. Like, they had some property and stuff that tanked. So they don’t have very good credit, so I couldn’t get private student loans. And I obviously don’t have any credit. My biggest worry is that I will have all this debt right when I get out, and I won’t be able to find a job that can, you know, pay for it.
COLLIN, DOUBLE MAJOR IN ENGLISH AND AFRICAN DIASPORA STUDIES: I have about $37,000 in debt from undergrad. I took a year and a half off for financial reasons, because neither of my parents make enough money to help me out really. Nor do either of them have good credit either. A really close friend of mine’s parents are very, very well off, and they agreed to cosign the rest of my loans for me to finish school, which is kind of why I’m still doing what I’m doing. For me personally, it’s like living like a self-contained delusion, really. I mean, honestly, like, I keep acquiring more and more debt because it’s what I’m told I need to do, financially indebt myself another, like, $10,000 or $15,000 just to get the degree that isn’t going to get me a job to pay back all the money that I owe. So, like, Sally Mae has the deeds to my soul.
MELISSA, EDUCATION MAJOR WITH MINOR IN DANCE: I kind of always knew that I would be working through college, mainly just because I like working. I don’t like just sitting around doing nothing. So, like, having a job is actually really good for me.
MELISSA: Have a good night, guys.
CUSTOMER: You too.
CUSTOMER: Take it easy.
MELISSA: I know my dad put most of my money in the stock market. That was supposed to be for my college fund. So I’ve been having to, like, work [inaudible] save up more money, just make up for the drop in the stock market. And I’ll probably have to take out loans too.
ALEX, THIRD-YEAR STUDENT FROM LOUSVILLE, KY: I don’t know the exact amount of what I’ve borrowed so far. I do know by the time I graduate I’ll probably be anywhere between $20,000 and $25,000 in debt. And I know my dad and I fight all the time, ’cause he tells me to come home and save some money, but I don’t really want to compromise going to the school that I want to, to study what I want to, to come home and have it easier. So—.
COWORKER: Alex, you’ve got food up.
ALEX: My dad knows what it’s like to be in debt and have credit cards and things hanging over his head, and he just doesn’t want that for me, which I understand a lot. But at the same time, you know, I want to go somewhere where I can study what I want, and back home there’s not a school that offers photography as a major.
NAY, LEFT SCHOOL AFTER FIVE SEMESTERS: I’m no longer in school. I ran into some issues, money issues, so I had to leave. And my original idea was to start working here until I make enough money to go back to school. But it’s harder than you think, ’cause you still have to pay for being alive. I think a lot of parents who were planning for their kids’ education didn’t save enough. The cost of tuition and books and all this stuff shot up. Like, you’re figuring, if you had a kid 20 years ago and you were like, "Oh, well, I’ll have to save," you know, "this much plus a little extra for inflation," and then you look at the prices of school, like, now versus 20 or 25 years ago, it’s insane. It’s insane.
MARK, INDIANA UNIVERSIT, CLASS OF 2007: You know, you hear the—especially in an election, you hear all this [shit] about, you know, the American dream. Well, what’s the American dream when, you know, now I’m [inaudible]? But it’s like—I just was talking to my buddy about it. I think I’m paying $800 a month, $800 a month in loans and debt just for school alone, and I manage a pizza place. My little sister’s visiting. Hi, sister. I haven’t seen her in—.
MARK: Good to see you. I haven’t seen her in a couple of months. Actually, funny—I haven’t seen her in a couple of months because she stopped going to college and moved back in with her parents because of the expenses of living down here. So you make the decision: you can stick it out like me and be $60,000 in debt, give or take; or you can just get a full-time job, and then you’ve got to get your education, you know, further down the line. I guess that’s the economics of going to college is you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.