The Beast That Swallows Its Young, or Student Loans

I want to get real.

One of the top reasons I started this project was to save myself from the impending weight of ugly apathy stemming from debt. A year ago, I acknowledged via an inappropriate Facebook rant that I’d been paying off my student loans for 10 years and because my private loans (CITIASSIST) had a variable interest rate, when interest rates soared (doubled) during Mr. G. W. ‘s interim, it basically cancelled what I’d payed off at that point. It wasn’t pretty and quite frankly too long for a status update. So I started a project using my talents as a performer/writer/director to highlight the lives, triumphs, struggles, etc. of those of us in the gap generation, falling between Gen X and Gen Y.

A year later I am really happy with the progress of the project.

Regarding my student loans I am still asking myself: would I do it again. Would you?

I’ve paid about 50000 (FIFTY THOUSAND SMACKERS) toward my CITIASSIST loan (I owed about 28000 when I graduated in 2001). I owe about 22000 (TWENTY TWO THOUSAND). I pay every month but I am strained, especially after three months of being on the road with project1979. So, yesterday I tried to use forbearance. Love that customer service!

Me: Hello, yes, I’d like to use two months of my forbearance.

The nice lady with a grandma voice: Let me see here… (I was sure she was knitting while she sweetly talked to me. I tried to empathize with her, imagining that she was a ‘Boomer who had to keep working even past retirement age.)

NLWGMV: I’m sorry but you don’t qualify.

Me: I understood I had the right to use my forbearance when I needed to.

NLWGMV: Forbearance isn’t a right, ma’m. Unfortunately you don’t qualify for the program.

Me: Forbearance is a program? In the past I was able to use it when I needed it. I understood when I signed I was eligible to use two years of forbearance.

NLWGMV: Yes, that is correct but our policy has changed. People were abusing the system. We are different from federal loans.

Me: Wait, abusing? How can you abuse something that was given for you to use in emergencies? As for the difference between federal and private loans, you better believe I know that. After eleven years of being chained to debt…(I did stop myself at this point however, NLWGMV didn’t really have anything to do with my frustration.)

NLWGMV: I understand your frustration. What about Michael?

Me: Michael? Michael who? (imagining St. Michael who might be able to wave his golden stick over my debt.) (Realizing) You mean my dad?

NLWGMV: Yes, your co-signer.

That’s the thing. We private loaners are bound. We can’t walk away from this debt. We can’t give a key back and start over. My baby-boomer parents are chained to this debt, too. Someone is going to have to pay these back if I bail, even if I only have one (retirement age) working parent. Mom and pop, like many their age are also trying to pull themselves out of their own debt, especially since my father’s illness.

One thing that strikes me when there is talk about the 1 TRILLION (TRILLION!) US DOLLARS of those paying off those paying these loans off is being done by young adults who are coming into their 30’s or are already in their 30’s. Our age, education and life experience is calls us to be leaders at this point in our lives but many, very many are stuck in jobs that are entry level positions in the service industry that might not even require a degree. NPR says: student-loan-debt-exceeds-one-trillion-dollars

Today, a friend asked me:

How long are we going to have to go through this?

I wish I knew.

There was so much (still is) talk about the HOUSING CRISIS. Tragic? Absolutely. However we student loaners have borrowed and are paying back MORE DEBT THAN CREDIT CARDS AND AUTO LOANS! And the thing is, we have nothing to foreclose on, we can’t give back the keys of our education (I in no means am suggesting that we should). I know the process of getting my degree influenced me greatly and I am not going back. But can someone give a sista a hand?

In June I asked the project1979 community what affected them more-the housing crisis or student loans. The winner? And overwhelming student loans. Here are some of the responses:

No house to lose…student loans I can’t pay back. Two degrees and ten years later still no job in my field.

Student loans. Can’t afford a house to lose.

It has been hard to be all together on this one and have real media coverage and care about this is the differing views on whose “fault” this is. I think there are probably some out there, some in our generation, and most that aren’t, who see this as our own problem. We should have “known better” we shouldn’t have taken out all that money, we should have been more responsible or “asked for the money from our family.” I think I should have received some financial intelligence education at some point along the line. I never had anything like that.

I often feel cheated. I did everything right. I got great grades, honor roll, went to college like everyone told me to do, was on the presidents list there, and for what??!!

I sense a great sense of guilt among us combined with desperation of not seeing the end in having such great debt. In Europe this summer when talking about the US, no one could believe how much debt affected our generation. Things like credit cards and student loans are still novelties among people and most European countries have a tuition that would equal our cost of dorm living in a year. When I see my Italian friends they always ask (with a furrowed brow)-if I had paid it off yet. No, ‘it” will be there, if the debt calculator is right, until age 64. Until I am my parents’ age now.

And, Dear Citisassit, my friends and I never, ever look like this when I log on to your often-glitchy website:


Silver lining? I met a very kind soul, Clyde Anderson via Twitter in June. I discussed with him about the increasing talk about Student loans (which I appreciated), yet highlighted that there was still a significant lack in discussion (politically) about PRIVATE LOANS in the media.

See him talking about student loans and baby boomers here:

We didn’t find the answers but we hope to do a forum with project1979ers which is awesome (stay tuned).

I am also looking into consolidating my private loans, although I haven’t found anything yet. You can get some advice here:

Bankruptcy isn’t really an option either…

We can sign this petition, however:

And after last night’s speeches, I don’t know even where we stand. Are we on our way to finding real solutions to being the leaders we deserve to be?

Are we the “young America” that President Clinton spoke about? Or is he referring to Anya Kamenetz’ Generation Debt which refers to Millennials? We need to have our voice heard, too. No more brushing things under the rug, folks.

Where do we go from here?

I refuse to be bitter and assure you that this topic will find it’s way on stage, along with The Cold War, AIDS, globalization, cultural identity and the other themes that have emerged in the performance. I’m attempting to steer away from the apathy that I find toxic to what this project is all about. I cannot, however deny that the burden is great and I get weary!

For now, I will leave you with this song:

3 Responses to “The Beast That Swallows Its Young, or Student Loans”
  1. Draken Korin says:

    Intentional, utter repudiation of our “student loans” – that is the only answer to a rigged system that offers no hope. Simply walk away, let the predators starve. When a critical mass of us does this, believe me, the systemic shock will bring this corrupt, rigged, predatory system down. Join us, and REPUDIATE.

    • project1979 says:

      I hear what you are saying…If my loans were not co-signed by my parents (who I love very much), I would not hesitate to do something like you are suggesting. Very Frustrating!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] grants/proposals every day until I leave my parents’ home in a few weeks. But dealing with *private student loans that won’t allow me to use my forbearance, an extra overcharged $1,000 charge on my credit […]

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