Last week Howl was screaming about the jump in student-loan interest rates and, more generally, about the whopping debts college and professional-school graduates are taking with them into the world. The piece elicited reader response that you may find interesting.
Jena from San Francisco says:
“One of the reasons I am homeless was that I chose kids over education. Now that they’re grown and on their own, and their father long ago ‘started over’ with someone thirty years younger, and the city where I grew up and raised them (alone for nine years) is gentrifying (auctioning off the basics to the highest bidder), I can’t afford to live here except as a street person with stays in friends’ garages or dens.
“My kids can’t afford to live here either. All have kids, two have college debt and one isn’t working, so can’t afford to help me in any way. I don’t expect that. But I can’t even afford healthcare working two jobs at $5 an hour. Never mind housing. Plus, it’s up to me to take care of my mother, who is in her 90s. I was a middle-class person thirty years ago, even twenty. I didn’t know that kids were becoming a kind of luxury possession. In my mind, having kids would mean building a strong and helpful family unit. Everybody would work to help others. That hasn’t been true. Some of it is character flaws I gave my kids, some is their own, some is social change. I think it’s true that I love my kids. But if I had to do it over, I’d choose education, a good job and being child-free. I’d get the best education I could manage and spend the rest of my life paying it off if I had to, because I’d still be a person with more skills and wider perspectives. I’d choose being a productive member of society who could die saying, ‘I didn’t contribute to an increase in human numbers.’ I’d take care of kids with no families or lonely misunderstood kids, like I talk to on the street.”
Wendy from Tampa, Florida, writes:
“I am a 32-year-old PhD student. Having taken some time off right after my undergraduate degree to travel, I may be a bit older than others. Having to pay for graduate school myself, I had no choice but to take out student loans. I have always maintained an assistantship and even tuition waivers. However, ten hours a week and the increasing fees attached to waivers forced me to take out loans. As an applied anthropologist interested in public housing and community development issues, I do not see a high-end salary in the near future. I do not see any home ownership or children in my future due to my student loan debt.”