The President Made Me Do It
The other day I saw a disturbing political commercial, part of which blamed President Obama for the rise in student loan debt in our country along with blaming him that recent college graduates are moving back home with their parents for a time. I’m not a big fan of politics, nor do I avidly support any candidate. I’m comfortable agreeing to disagree with others and I don’t enjoy arguing about it. But at the risk of stepping on toes, I want to state for the record that my student loan debt has absolutely nothing to do with the president, the governor, the mayor, or any other political figure! For Pete’s sake! I made the decision to go to college and graduate school. No one tricked me into signing those papers, agreeing to repay the amount of money I was borrowing. The responsibility lies squarely on my shoulders.
Did it absolutely stink when I finished my master’s degree and got a job making less money than I had made before I got the degree, even though I was working in my chosen field? YES IT DID. Did it frighten me to request extensions while I scrambled to get my finances in order, knowing I might not be free of the loans for most of my adult life? Oh, yes. But was any of that the fault of our government? NO.
Should I have moved back in with my parents and lived for free for a time in order to focus on paying off or paying down my student loan debt? Well, it would’ve been a very sound financial decision. My sister did it. I have a cousin my age who moved in with a relative and lived like a pauper until she got every dime of that student loan paid off in record time. Now she has a modest job as a teacher, but she lives in her own apartment (no roommates to contend with), owns a very nice car, and can afford to go on vacations and buy whatever she needs. In my case, there were extenuating circumstances that influenced my decision. But financially I would’ve been much better off if I had chosen that path.
Student loans can be a wonderful blessing to those who don’t have the means to pay for an education. They can help a person turn her life around. They can open doors of possibility that seemed to be nailed shut and barred. But those of us who choose to use them must be responsible to pay them back. We must be willing to make sacrifices. It isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to do so.
A woman I know dated a guy who wanted to marry her, but he had never made one student loan payment in the ten years he’d been out of college. He hadn’t bothered to contact the lender to request deferment. He didn’t have a checking account, credit card, or legal driver’s license – all in an effort to outrun the lender. Once all this information was revealed, she couldn’t in good conscience continue a romantic relationship with him. His irresponsibility made him someone she couldn’t trust her whole life to. Sadly, it was the end of their romance. Was his failure the government’s responsibility too? Where does this blame game end?
I know the President bears some responsibility for the economy, that the job market impacts our ability to repay student loans, but I also acknowledge that the enormously expensive war we’ve been fighting for the last eleven years has a lot to do with it. There are so many factors that go into politics and the economy that my little brain doesn’t begin to comprehend it. All I know is that no matter what side of the political spectrum I’m on, I won’t blame Barak Obama for my student loan debt.