Student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt in the United States, and a deep, dark hole of financial woe that many people aren’t sure they’ll ever be able to get out of. But when Lacy M. Johnson shared her experience with eleven years of trying to pay back her grad school loans, it revealed that the reality surrounding the student loan debt crisis is even bleaker than some people realize.
“When I left grad school in 2008, I owed $70k in federal student loans,” she wrote. Despite making $60,000 worth of payments, she says she still owes…$70,000.
When I left grad school in 2008, I owed $70k in federal student loans. (A poor choice I wouldn’t make again.) For the past 11 years, I’ve been making payments (except for a period of under employment), totaling about $60,000 in payments. Guess how much I still owe.— Lacy M. Johnson (@lacymjohnson) December 12, 2019
The horror of her situation is one far too many people relate to, and other Twitter users were quick to chime in with their own stories about how the loans they took out to get an education, and theoretically get a better job than they could have otherwise, has crippled their finances.
“Same. Graduated grad school in 08 with nearly $100k in debt, have paid over $100k since then in interest, still owe $100k,” one user commiserated.
Same. Graduated grad school in 08 with nearly $100k in debt, have paid over $100k since then in interest, still owe $100k.— Amyamyamyo (@amyamyamyo) December 12, 2019
Have two bachelors and a law degree. Actual tuition was in the neighborhood of $100k for all three. I owe close to $200k now. It’ll never be paid off unless I win the lottery.— Liz Covfefe (@liddlemocovfefe) December 12, 2019
It is truly INSANE. I can’t believe that any of this is legal.— Selena Coppock (@SelenaCoppock) December 12, 2019
Schools and the loan system have just become a racket.— #removetRumpNOW #fbr 🌊 (@Betsy_Manning) December 12, 2019
We’re supposed to be able to get a well paying job and have a good life after school, not be indebted forever.
My art college in 1987 was $4500 a year.
It’s now at $45,000!😡
Believe me, it wasn’t worth $4500!
Jumping into student loan debt is something a number of people have said they didn’t understand would end up being as damaging as it is. Part of that can be chalked up to how discussing finances has long been considered taboo, something that many are hoping to change with these open and frank conversations about how the economy and government are basically screwing everyone over.
“Honestly, I’ve felt embarrassed being an accounting pro while looking back at the student debt I borrowed,” one person shared.
“My parents had no money for school and there was nobody who had gone ahead of me who could give me advice,” tax lawyer Kelly Phillips Erb responded, saying that she doesn’t regret school, but she does “hate that we stigmatize debt.”
I feel no embarrassment. I was a poor kid. My parents had no money for school and there was nobody who had gone ahead of me who could give me advice.— Kelly Phillips Erb (@taxgirl) December 12, 2019
I don't regret law school (I met and married my husband there and launched a wonderful career).
I hate that we stigmatize debt.
People who haven’t had to deal with predatory student loans, or who received their education in a country other than America (land of the interest and home of the brave souls who aim to one day finally pay it off), are also sounding off in the comments, shocked at how our educational system could be so stacked against students.
“Health and education are supposed to be an investment in society, not a way for rich corporations to keep poor people in their place,” Canadian journalist Brennan Leffler pointed out.
I just don't understand America. Health and education are supposed to be an investment in society, not a way for rich corporations to keep poor people in their place. Whatever happened to throwing off the yoke of the class system?— Brennan Leffler (@brennanleffler) December 12, 2019
Yes. The system is taxing everyone else for daring to want an education.— Mat Nichol (@nichol_mat) December 12, 2019
2 things pushed me to make the decision to leave the US and move to Europe: the cost & inaccessibility of healthcare and college costs (while @GOP admins cut student assistance & grants). I’m sorry for your plight.— Jamie Schler (@lifesafeast) December 12, 2019
Sounds plenty American tbh— Joel Esparza (@WookieAndCookie) December 12, 2019
But still, this is the America we live in, at least until we band together and find a way to fix it, and some of the stories truly are heartbreaking to read.
My daughter is in the same boat! She’s been with her boyfriend for 10 years and can’t marry him because their combined income would increase her payments to $1500 a month. It. Is. Criminal.— GW (@merrill2n) December 12, 2019
Predatory capitalism defines all aspects of American life, from rich to poor and everyone in between.— Unvarnished Truth™ (@SRMillar3) December 12, 2019
My mother says the same thing! 🙄 She paid $5,000 for four years at UConn and can’t understand why I won’t consider sending my son to my alma mater (5,000 a year while I was there, now 28,000 a year.)— Keira Bauer-Severy (@KeiraBSevery) December 12, 2019
I graduated in 2015 w/ a MSN & $98k in debt. Paid every month, then went on forbearance because they wanted $900/mo, I'm supporting 5 people alone, & I couldn't pay my bills.— Pazuzu con fritas y queso (@Chaosfeminist) December 12, 2019
I think that’s the way most of us see things now. We hope to have enough money to have a decent life when we die on the job.— StrategyFan 🌹 (@StrategyFan) December 12, 2019
The dark cloud unending student loans cast over the possibility of ever retiring is a common refrain throughout the thread. A bleak future, but one many with debt seem resigned to face.
“I think that’s the way most of us see things now,” one person said. “We hope to have enough money to have a decent life when we die on the job.”