Basically, I’m Being Sued – And So Are You

debtStudent debt is nothing new. It’s been a constant for the past 30 years.  Granted, the cost of a four-year degree has escalated, but repayment has been an issue for many for more than one generation of students.  The percentage of federal student loan defaults were highest in the late 1980s — when the cost of a degree was not astronomical, starting salaries barely exceeded the total cost of your education, and repayment didn’t take into consideration how much you could afford to pay each month.  The government could attach your paycheck and leave you with zero to live on if you defaulted…

Recent college graduates are refusing to repay loans they took out (in good faith?) because they didn’t get their dream job/salary upon graduation and they want every taxpayer in the country to eat the cost for them.  They feel that schools lied to them about ‘guaranteed’ job opportunities.

My question is this: Are they planning to return their degrees?

Generally if you are not satisfied with a product you bought, you return it for a refund. Almost never does a store or manufacturer say, “We’re so sorry you don’t like what you bought.  Keep it anyway and we’ll return your purchase price.“

The money they borrowed was for an education.  They got an education.

They borrowed money from me (federal loans consist of taxpayer monies) and I want it back — with interest.  That was the contract they signed.  I shouldn’t have to pay for their degree just because the job they wanted didn’t appear upon graduation.  While the federal loan program has changed since I first applied for one (no need to say when), I’m sure that nowhere in that paperwork does it state that a job — any job for a specific salary — is guaranteed, regardless what college or university you attend.

The job market has been constantly changing for the past few decades.  Companies have merged, others have gone out of business.  There’s been downsizing and — the biggie — offshoring of jobs to third world countries and/or replacement of American workers with imported third world contract workers.  No one has been successful in suing either the federal government or private companies for losing their jobs (and therefore the worth of their college degrees) to other countries.  And the federal government hasn’t penalized those companies for putting people out of work and careers.

The idea, and ideal, of getting a college degree, then a job with a company where you could work for thirty years or so and retire with a pension (and benefits) disappeared after the 1960s.  For the past 20 years, people have been job hopping just to stay employed.  It may require commuting more than 20 minutes or even out-of-state.  They’ve had to change careers, sometimes even move out-of-state to stay employed in their chosen profession. I know plenty of people who have done both.  It’s the reality of job opportunities across the country.  Opportunities in the same field vary from state to state and there can be competition of more applicants than available jobs.  If you’re not willing to move, you may have to apply your education to another market arena.

For a time — and it still may be true — there were abundant job opportunities in Alaska. Regardless of the salary, I for one, wouldn’t move there.  I just don’t think I could survive the six months of darkness.  Even though in southern Alaska it isn’t full darkness, but more like dusk for 24 hours, to not see any sunshine for a single minute for six full months….No, I’m just not tough enough to survive that environment.

There was a TV series called ‘Northern Exposure’ about a recent medical school grad who, in lieu of repaying his student loans, would provide medical services for a few years. He hadn’t however, expected to be placed in a small town in Alaska.  He tried to leave, but the locals weren’t about to let him welsh on his contractual obligations.

There’s more than one route to a college education.  Payment in some form is required.  And are they still going to claim credit for college credentials on their resumes?

Having a college degree never guaranteed anyone a job.  It afforded the opportunity to a career path that required more than a high school education.  The key word is ‘opportunity’ in the same way that the Declaration of Independence gives me the ’unalienable right’ to the ‘pursuit’ of happiness, not happiness itself.  What planet have these people been living on?

I have plenty of my own bills to pay, thank you very much.  Having to pay someone else’s debts seriously impinges on my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  Not to mention my bank account.

We should all countersue — if we can find a lawyer who’s already paid off his/her student loans.