College affordability: Your stories

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By Ahmed Moneib

From attempting to dismantle public service loan forgiveness, to cutting billions from federal student loans, destroying consumer protection regulations, and her failed attempt to create a federal student loan servicing mega-corporation, Education Secretary DeVos has been cutting the legs out from under higher education borrowers at every turn. Despite having been sued by attorneys general from 18 states and Washington D.C. after she delayed an Obama-era rule meant to protect student borrowers, her onslaught on students show no signs of stopping.

Below we have curated a set of stories from you, our Education Votes readers, on the importance of college affordability. Share your own right here!

I went to graduate school for one year and received a Master’s Degree in Education. This process cost me about $32,000. Thankfully, at the age of 30, I do not have kids or any other debt or else I would not be able to afford to pay what I can. The current interest rate is 6.8%…if I pay only the minimum payment for the next 20-30 years, I will have paid DOUBLE what I paid for college. I pay more than the minimum, but like I said, no children, no additional debt…oh, and one more thing…I’m living with my parents. College debt: only affordable if you have no life.

Megan V

I will NOT ever be able to retire! I’m a non-traditional student. I began the journey to get my degree later in life. I graduated but unfortunately my husband is now catastrophically sick. Our lives have changed drastically. My goal was to get a master’s degree. I wanted to be a counselor and work with the underprivileged. Currently I stay home to help my husband who is relearning to walk and talk. My tomorrow is so undefined now. He was our sole income. I don’t have a pension and I have to start from scratch.

Most people my age will be coming up on retirement. I on the other hand will most likely have to work until the end of my life. I will have to start working harder to pay off the house so that I have a place to live when I am older. I want to start working but I need to make sure he is settled before I can even start looking. I’ve run down my car traveling to medical appointments. These are just a few of the things I have to tackle; all this and I have to worry about the fact that I will have to pay back large amounts of payments toward student loans. There was no way I could have predicted this catastrophic event and there are no rules that will fully consider my circumstance. I can only hope and pray that someone can make this better for those of us without a voice.

Tracey T

I managed to complete the first three years of college without any loans. However, my final year, with my internship that became impossible. I had to give up one of my three jobs and obtain a loan in order to support myself and my two children. It seemed fine at the time, but now I wish I had taken more time and written more applications for grants or scholarships. I also had the bright idea that going for my master’s degree would ease the burden of my loans, after all my pay rate would increase.

I have had some serious should have discussions with myself since then, let me tell you. It is now 14 years later, my loans began at $36,000 all said and done. They are now nearly $60,000. I have had some setbacks in my life, as will happen with anyone. My 2nd husband had a heart attack and lost his job within a year. Two years after that, which was in 2012, my son passed away. Now we are picking up the pieces of our past life.

We rent a house, after a foreclosure. We have one car payment and one old car. My husband has a much less stressful job that is also much lower in pay. The most difficult part is that the money, while I knew would never be rival to a brain surgeon, has decreased the past five years. While our bills and cost of living has increased. The loan doesn’t go away and the interest accrues.

There is no real teacher forgiveness, or critical shortage area anything. I worked with students with disabilities for ten years. I think that students should be really told what they are getting into before they sign for a loan that will be a haunting shadow for the rest of their lives. It is crippling. There is probably no way we will ever get back to the standard we once had, or could have had. Loans prey on our children, leaving them stuck for the rest of their lives. I’m so thankful my daughter has a GI bill, and my other daughter will not take out a loan if I have to work ten jobs to pay for her college!

Karin B

As a former financial planner, I served a vast array of clients. Several, no many, of these clients were college or trade school graduates who went to schools, achieved their degrees…only to find themselves with unbridled school loan debt, uncooperative lenders, ridiculous terms, and jobs that did not pay them enough to repay their loans, feed, clothe and provide shelter and transportation for themselves.

Hence, I’ve seen and witnessed firsthand several clients move back home with their parents at age 25-35….one was a master chef who attended the best culinary school in the country unable to repay his school loans, even working double shifts.

How does the government and those corporations who employ educated talent expect graduates, who in my opinion are grossly under paid vs. the debts they had to incur to achieve the jobs and positions in the workforce, to survive if the leaders are grossly overpaid and lenders are uncooperative? Where is the logic or the balance…or is our country merely manufacturing indentured servants set up to fail for few to profit?

Jim E

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