Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Woes of a grad student: Life as a serf to Sallie Mae by Starsha Valentine

The rising cost of college tuition is off the chain and has far reaching reverberations -- college loan debt that takes years to pay. The following article, written by Starsha Valentine gives her personal account of living and working to pay off student loans.  

As this current election gets underway there's been a lot of talk about student loans. Political rhetoric about loan forgiveness from the Dems vs. lectures about personal responsibility from the GOP. All this talk is well and good but what about the little guy? There are countless graduates on twitter singing the woes of owing their life to Sallie Mae. One tweeter facetiously offered to return his/her education and even mentioned being bleed to death by the overwhelming debt.

From my personal experience as a grad student, I ask: what's really going on?

I recently received an email from my student loan distributor informing me that graduate students are no longer eligible for subsidized loans. Did I know about this beforehand? Of course not. When did I find this out? Two weeks before my semester is set to start. 

Meanwhile, I am left to think, what's all the discussion on TV about making it easier for people to get an education?

Here's the crux of the situation: The average salary of a college graduate in 2011 -- according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers -- is roughly $42,000 annually. If you live in a major city, owe student loans from undergrad, pay rent and want to have a cell phone, you are living at the limit of your salary. 

So you decide to go to grad school to further your education in hopes of landing a higher paying job. Of course already in debt, you can't afford to pay for graduate school without guess what: taking our more student loans. It's the only way you can get your undergrad loans deferred so you can live.

To make matters worse: 

Previously, any new loans you took out would not accrue any interest while you continued your advanced studies. However, presently, not only will undergrad loans continue to accrue interest (while in deferment) the current grad school loan is accruing interest as well.. 

Subsequently, you finally finish grad school and are looking forward to the money rolling in fruits of your labor. Only to find that now you owe not only past loans but $36,000 - $50,000 more. Where are you now? Back to $42,000 a year job, with a new mountain of debt. And the cycle continues. Even President Obama admitted that he and Michelle repaid their loans only 8 years ago.

Everyone isn't asking for a handout but where does the little guy,just trying to get ahead, fit into all the rhetoric about the middle class? I'd really like to know. 

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