Category Archives: Drowning in Loans

Music Makes a Movment

student debt playlistDuring my first litigation/legal internship, my attorney supervisor Johnny Barnes always said that a music makes a movement because music unites people, engages people, captures attention, and magnifies a mention. — And if it’s catchy that also helps.

So when I came across Generation Progress

Your #ItsOurInterest Student Debt Anthems [PLAYLIST]

I was ecstatic!!! — So much so I posted it directly to the blog and via Twitter.

Here are the songs embedded!

 








Sen. Elizabeth Warren — LIVE at the AFL-CIO HQ — Highlights on Student Loans & Minimum Wage

I was very excited to see Senator Elizabeth Warren speak today at the AFL- CIO!

She has been dubbed the Peoples’ Champion and she is certainly a champion of college affordability and ending the student loan crisis.

Here are some videos. Two on student loans and one on the minimum wage. Please note: I was in the back — still completely worth it. I’m short and my arms were shaking a bit, but you can hear her beautiful message pretty clearly.

Poetic stickup: Put the financial aid in the bag – Carvens Lissaint

Great video!
– Thanks to GenerationDebt  for bringing it to our attention via their blog.

60 ways to get rid of your student loans (without paying them)

60 ways to get rid of your student loans (without paying them).

Hmm….

Cool Ideas for 2014

I ran across these two articles and really wanted to share them to aid the uphill but possible climb to making unemployment a nightmare of the past.

The first is:

10 New Skills You Can Learn in 6 Months
By Sara Roncero-Menendez

In a nutshell the ten skills are:

1. Image and Video Editing
2. CPR and First Aid
3. Bartending
4. Blogging
5. Project Management
6. Microsoft Office
7. Notarizing
8. Scuba Diving
9. Public Speaking
10. Foreign Language Basics

I’d like to add # 11 based on what I have learned from temping and talking to people at non-profits – Grant Writing.

How many do you have or can you refine? I know I am going to try to buff up on them. Several I know from experience like video/image editing are a lot of fun. For more in depth descriptions on the usefulness and awesomeness of these skills, click here for the article.

The second is a new way to revamp and glamour up our resumes and the superb fun and utility of blogging. I generally agree with this article. Writing is fun, a way to let off steam, and a way to make sure important issues are discussed.

Blogging is the new resume: Why less is not always more
By Ryan Hoover

There is also a podcast.

In addition, blogging is like my opinion about standardized tests. A person’s

against tests 2

capabilities and work ethic are best demonstrated through hmm.. demonstration. It’s better to manifest and apply your knowledge than cram it into an unrealistic arbitrarily limited timed environment. As the author says in the article, a blog [or in an academic setting – an essay or newspaper article] can demonstrate writing ability and actual accomplishment.

Other examples in the academic and professional worlds include:

  • Organizing an event or campaign with complementary social media awareness;
  • Producing your own movie or art/photo gallery;
  • Presentations, which can demonstrate any number of topics and address skills of general public speaking abilities;
  • Debates – how to craft a persuasive argument and defend your position,
  • The lab portions of science classes, and many many many more ways for almost any academic or life skills area.

Government Officials Propose the Student Loan Bill of Rights

I really really really, did I say really, hope S.1803 – Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights passes. College affordability has a very long journey, but helping students deal with the current system as is, can be a fantastic start. This is a need that the US cannot ignore. Every time a new bill is proposed and the issue is brought to the local and national stages are small steps in the right direction.

After all, as highlighted in the article, “…the Institute for College Access and Success’ (TICAS) Project on Student Debt found that seven in 10 of 2012 college graduates had student loan debt. Additionally, the Class of 2012 had an average debt of $29,400.” And that’s just undergrad.
The goal of this legislation is to increase loan transparency, improve the relationship and level of communication between recent grads and their lenders. Ultimately, the bill aims to help recent graduates attain total repayment so the ability to purchase homes, cars or other goods is more than a figment of a dream. At this point owning a home and not living with 2+ roommates for most (for those lucky enough to move away from their parents) is a laughing matter. It should not be.

One of the best rights this law would offer is providing options such as alternative payment plans to avoid default. In an economy where raising the minimum wage is still contentious and being able to get any job is like shaking a magic 8 ball, it is somewhat nice to know that those aspiring to educate themselves will have options. After all going to college was supposed to provide options in the first place to better compete in our capitalistic economic system. College was not designed or intended to sink graduates in quicksand before they have a chance to reach for a sturdy branch. Perhaps walking the plank will not be the only path.
However, it would it be better if higher education as a whole were cheaper or even perhaps a constitutional right relieving and/or minimizing the need for debt.
But for the sake of a short term goal acting as a foundation for a long term solution, I embrace the perceptive and targeted words of Sen. Durbin, “Borrowers are already struggling to make ends meet as they graduate with debt that surpasses their annual wages.” We want a successful self-sufficient work force. We can accomplish this by providing the support and tool necessary to pay for their education and not punishing our young Americans for trying to better their futures in the first place.

Pantheon Student Solutions

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Why Are You Discouraging Voting?

In light of all the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act controversy, I cam across an article from April about the absurd news that there was actually a proposal in the North Carolina state senate trying to tax parents of students who change registration. My jaw dropped! If it could it would have slammed into the floor.

Voter turnout in the US is low enough as it is, having one of the highest apathy and discontentment rates out of the democracies in the world. And now instead  of having a Get Out the Vote movement and efforts North Carolina is actively trying to dissuade people from exercising their right to vote by basically limiting the 26th Amendment of the Constitution. This is preposterous!

Many colleges nationwide have student-driven voter registration drives annually. Inspired by their peers, voting becomes easy and exciting. But this potential NC law would put a burden on students and they would hesitate to register and maybe even to vote.

Many colleges nationwide have student-driven voter registration drives annually. Inspired by their peers, voting becomes easy and exciting. But this potential NC law would put a burden on students and they would hesitate to register and maybe even to vote.

The proposed NC law says that if a voter is being claimed by their parents as a dependent for tax purposes, they must vote at their registered “home address.” If they do not, then parents cannot claim their child as a dependent for state income tax reasons. Many parents rely on the tax exemptions they receive by claiming their children as dependents. These students return home to their parents for school breaks and summer vacation, although the entire rest of the year, their college campus is essentially their home in almost every aspect. At their college home they sleep, shower, eat meals, have a job on or off campus, do their homework, relax, rely on a support system, and the local community, do volunteer work, and call it their home.

The proposed bill also “…would require college students who change their registration to register their vehicle at the new address within 60 days and begin paying local property tax.” It also appears that proponents of this bill have tried to place limitations and even eliminate early voting periods and same-day voter registration laws. This year I saw vast lines for the early voting days. They seem effective to mean and very useful for all of those people who waited as if they were going to see their favorite band’s concert.

Where a student votes should not affect their parents or their taxes.  Many of them barely www.advocatesforyouth.orgmake $3000 a year and are struggling to pay for college and other costs. Students and those parents that can help with tuition have an incredibly hard time paying, further fueling the student loan epidemic. Why is the local government trying to make it more difficult for these families to pay for their education and be active patriotic citizens? Families should not have to chose between their desire to be educated to have a better life to be productive happy citizens and their right to vote. The youth vote like any is important and restricting it leaves a criminal after-taste.

There is a saying among the political communities that “If you do not vote, you do not have a right to complain.” The saying is not serious, everyone always has a right to their opinion and to stand up freely and vocalize their opinion. However, the saying speaks to, if you wanted to have a say in who represents you, then why didn’t you speak up then, and utilize your right to its fullest. Registering to vote on campus, voting alongside their peers, and in their college’s community makes the political process more fun and meaningful to students. Also, many students cannot go home to vote because they cannot afford to. And if for whatever reason they did not fill out the absentee forms, then they cannot vote. This law seems to be a way to try to silence the rising young voters.

www.labeez.orgProponents of this bill claim that it is a means of saving money. Bah! They are sucking money from people who do not have the money. These young Americans are paying to better educate themselves so that one day they can make a living and pay their taxes. Maybe if this money went right into a public need-based scholarship program, it would be more acceptable. But I have not read any statements saying how this extra money will be used. And the proponents had the gall to say that students were being to manipulated. Are you kidding me!? Students, even at 18 most definitely have a mind of their own, they are having active discussions – many of them in collegial settings, and they have access to all the same campaigning and media like any other person of voting age has access to. Even candidates in recent election cycles from both parties have visited and had their campaign bases reach out to educate, register voters, and recruit potential Get Out the Vote volunteers.

The first presidential I was allowed to vote in was 2008. I was 18, excited, already an activist, and this happened to also be one of the greatest turnout years for young voters between the ages of 18-29.

Like every year the election was in November, which meant that I was in college. I went to college in PA, and although I could have filled out an absentee ballot, I wanted to physically vote. Who could argue with that? I along with my peers am a young american who cared and cares about the present and future of my country. I wanted to actively participate. And I was happy to re-register in PA because I was allowed to register with my campus address. I even participated in voter registration drives to get my classmates and people in the community to register. Allowing students to register with their dorm addresses promotes democracy, free speech, reaching out to all generations of voting age to have a voice, and makes the process of voting easier. Yes, absentee voting is great. I have even participated in the process since. However, when you are 18, maybe are away from home for the first time, and are adjusting to college life, filling out the forms by the appropriate deadlines is probably not the top thing on your mind. We should be fostering young Americans’ civic duty and be inspiring a pride in voting. This is why organizations like Rock the Vote, Ourtime.org, and the National Youth Rights Association are so fantastic and pivotal.

www.bullcitymutterings.comRepeatedly it appears that the younger generations are the last to get picked in kickball. Although in comparison, it has been better in recent years, issues affecting young Americans tend to get ignored and undervalued, and during elections they are almost never or minimally reached out to. This is likely because they either can’t vote because they are to young or because they have not been turning out in large enough numbers compared to the older generations. As a result there was the chicken and the egg apathy conundrum that began resolving itself in 2008,  which was one of the greatest voter turnouts since 1972, the first year the 26th amendment was put into action.

The  chicken and the egg apathy conundrum is that politicians did not pay attention to the issues of young Americans because they did not participate in the political process and vote; and young Americans did not participate in the political process enough and vote because the politicians were not paying attention to them. But the chain began to brake. However, since 2008 the chain began to reform.

Unfortunately, slowly again, regardless of greater turnout and maintained activism through organizations, volunteering, and social media; young american issues were not only de-prioritized, as can be seen by the lack of/poor effort to reform student loan bills and aid education. Additionally and grossly counter-efforts have been made to basically disenfranchise the young voters by making voting difficult. It seems like the lawmakers are hoping young Americans will re-crawl back into their cave of apathy. BUT we are not going anywhere and will make sure our voice is still heard and bring transparency to these despicable laws.

What I do not get, is why would you want to restrict voting, when it i hard enough to get people to vote, and just when people were getting excited to vote again because they are more invested than ever in the issues? We should be making voting invigorating and facilitate it.

Funny Advocacy

Please check out the Satire to Destress page. There are some great videos.

I think one of the best ways to get out a message is through laughs and eye-catching entertainment. And feel free to spread the joy.

Staying Afloat

We all know that ancient Chinese teaching a man to fish proverb:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Well here’s the modern take on it for recent grads:

“You give a student a loan today and s/he can pay for college.

After they graduate they will be paying back that loan for a great portion of the rest of their life – maybe…”

A huge looming question is how is this generation of young adults going to pay this back? So, let’s break it down.

 

Below are approximations of living costs for grads that either try to immediately enter the workforce or are no longer eligible for deferment for whatever reason.

You will see that many will barely stay afloat.

Most young adults are either unemployed or have some sort of minimum wage/part-time job [IF they are lucky] that has nothing to do with their degree (the very reason they took the loans out in the first place).

 

So, let’s say the minimum wage is $7.50

And the recent college grad gets a minimum wage job that lets them work 40 hours a week [please keep in mind that they are not necessarily getting direct job experience in their field unless they studied business and minus developing people and communications skills.)

 

Their Total $ earned per month = $1200 (gross income)

Approximate Monthly Cost of Living

Loan Payment (Based on one of the offered payment plans): $400 a month for the next approximate 10 years (if you pay on time)

Rent (if they are not w/parents or crashing or couch surfing) – about $700 a month

Utilities: (water, electric, internet, laundry, kitchen and bathroom appliances (soap, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels) $150 a month

Cell phone: (Needed for potential job apps/interviews, networking, keeping in touch w/ family/friends, and for emergencies) $30 – $50 (using the $30 for the total below)

Food: $150 a month

Public Transportation (cause can’t afford a car or insurance: $200+  per month

Fun (subjective activities): [You can’t be expected to have no funds for fun you’d go crazy –  it’s for mental health]: $100 per month

Emergency Funds (even if you are one of the lucky ones and have additional savings it is always safe to have some extra money just in case you never know): $200

Total Monthly Spending: $1780

 

$1200 (gross income) – $1780 (Total Money $ Spent) = -$580 (net income)

Even if the monthly loan payment was removed, the recent grad would STILL be in debt for the month.

$1200 (gross income) – $1780 (Total Money $ Spent) = -$580 (net income) + $400

= -$180

So, after calculating the potential under-budgeting we try to think what can we cut back on?

First, please add the loan payment back in because (you SHOULD pay it – if you don’t it’s terrible for your credit, credit is VERY important). So we are back at -$580.

Then we look at cutting out components that “may” be debatable such as:

– Cell phone: +30

– Fun (subjective activities): +100

– Internet part of utilities: +50

– Some food: +50

– And some Emergency funds (which is not a great idea): +100

Total New Additions: +330

-$580 + $300 = -$250

– The recent grad will be STILL be under budget by $250

Another option is moving back in with their parents or maybe a friend/other relative has space.

– If they live at home, then they can potentially save on rent and utilities.

+$700: Rent

+ 150: Utilities

Total savings = $850

So based on the previous component cuts…

-$250 + $850 = $600

Finally, they are not under budget and perhaps they can either save the $600 or reallocate it to paying their cell phone and internet bill for basic communication and job hunting or whatever they’d like.

Almost everything listed in the “Approximate Monthly Cost of Living” below is necessary and explains why so many more people live with their parents today (and are now being dubbed the “boomerang generation”). It’s not necessarily about being lazy; it’s about what they can afford, keeping up with loans, and trying not to become homeless.

This is a scary reality. Taxes, health insurance (a whole separate debate), printing costs for resumes, new clothes when old clothes get worn out were not even included for all of the estimations.

Another option to cope with the budgeting issue is having multiple jobs or praying your boss will give you over time or more hours. But if both pay around minimum wage, in order to minimally get around $1800 a month to be able to afford the $1780 monthly approximate cost of living evaluation; the recent grad would have to work 60 hours between the two minimum wage jobs.

These are jobs the recent grad probably doesn’t love, that underutilized their skill set, and will not help advance their chosen career path. These young adults are basically living pay check to pay check.

60 hours is a lot to work, which can be exhausting a terrible for your health [maybe they should pulling all-nighters from college to their resume]. It is possible, for example doctors and lawyers work at least that amount, but they get paid a whole lot more than minimum wage.

Do we really expect our recent grads to sacrifice, food or shelter to pay back loans and just to get by? Or their ability to get a job to get them out of their unemployment hole? I hope not.

I think better options include making college more affordable, not doubling student interest loan rates, and finding new ways to handle current and future student debt (which will certainly be discussed in greater depth in an upcoming post)

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