Observations on life

Crippled for life?

What would you buy that would financially cripple you for life?

At the end of a graduation celebration on Sunday night, Shaquille Lampley returned to his dorm room on campus, opened the computer and stared at his student loan estimates. They totaled more than $200,000 in loans taken out by his mother, covering six years in school. “I just kept looking at the number and thinking to myself, this would cripple me for life,” said Mr. Lampley, 24, who earned a degree in sociology. “I am so grateful and still in shock about this gift, and now I have so many questions about how this will be processed.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/us/morehouse-students-debt-questions.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

According to the above article “only 53 percent of full-time, first-time students finish their undergraduate studies at Morehouse within six years.”

There is no indication the above degree was a masters, so should someone be questioning the time and money it takes to get a degree?

And beyond that why are we accepting costs that end up ruining the financial lives of individuals?

Certainly the $200,000 was not a surprise to this student. What was he and his mother thinking during the last six years? Sociology is a broad field. It can take you from social worker to lawyer, is there a plan?

These few hundred graduates lucked out, but the time, cost and lack of planning for debt after obtaining a college degree is still a problem that isn’t being solved simply by debt forgiveness or even more government (taxpayer) funded college.

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5 replies »

  1. it is only because the federal government has taken over the student loan business that there are no checks on borrowing. Because it is the taxpayer who is ultimately at risk, individuals are allowed to borrow based on an arbitrary set of rules that are more focused on “need” (for the funding) than ability to repay the loan.

    This has become so obvious that the government has devised options to allow borrowers to avoid paying much of the debt they incur by setting arbitrary repayment rules, as well.

    Bottom line, no bank would make such loans if they could be discharged in bankruptcy. It is only taxpayers (and our elected representatives) who are so stupid as to allow, in fact encourage this result.

    See: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/the-complete-list-of-student-loan-forgiveness-programs/

    Here are the programs:
    – Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
    – Forgiveness with Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
    – Forgiveness with Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    – Forgiveness with Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
    – Forgiveness with Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
    – Federal Perkins loan cancellation
    – Student loan forgiveness for teachers
    – Student loan forgiveness for nurses
    – Loan repayment assistance for doctors and other health care professionals
    – Loan repayment assistance for lawyers
    – Student loan repayment assistance programs for other careers
    – Military student loan forgiveness and assistance
    – Student loan discharge for special circumstances

    A little history:
    As part of health reform, one of America’s laws which keeps on giving grief, the federal government took over the student loan program promising savings for taxpayers. Obvious from the start, this would add to the budget deficit. The government representatives were again buying votes with taxpayer dollars. See a Forbes article in 2010 which accurately predicted the fiscal fiasco, and a 2018 WSJ article which confirmed the anticipated result was obtained::
    https://www.forbes.com/2010/05/10/student-loans-hcera-leadership-education-fox.html#453f02606edd, and
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-student-loan-program-losing-money-as-borrowers-seek-debt-forgiveness-151758740

    Subsequently, once the problems became apparent and student debt loan was increasing rapidly, it was only a few years ago that President Obama gave us a brand new forgiveness program – and, it’s major shortcoming, from a student’s perspective, is that it appears to be difficult to use. No one seems all that concerned about the cost to taxpayers.

    https://thecollegeinvestor.com/15148/obama-student-loan-forgiveness/

    And, ironically, all of these forgiveness programs would, if properly communicated, actually exacerbate the problem, encouraging individuals to borrow even more with the expectation that it will all be forgiven, someday.

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    • Yesterday, I stumbled onto a YouTube video by Prof. Antony Davies comparing the housing bubble and the College bubble. In simple terms, he pointed out some of the government policies that took all the risks from the banks and placed them on by the taxpayers for home loans. The same thing happened for student loans. He cites many of the same things you do. It is a ticking time bomb to the tune of $1 trillion dollars. In the meantime, colleges are still expanding and raising tuition, cranking out more degrees for few job openings, some of which do not pay enough for your family to stay off of your kid’s school lunch program assistance.

      Nobody has ever asked me for my degree except marketing and warranty surveys. The fact of the matter is only a high school education was required for the 6 of 8 jobs that I had before retiring. I attended the Community College of the Air Force, Gloucester County College, and finished my BAS online after 29 years of trying. I got my degree as a result of my job. I did not get my job as a result of my degree. Out of pocket expenses for me was an negative amount because I was paid to attend and got some tuition reimbursement while getting most of my education. There is not need to go into $200K of debt for a non-engineering or medical 4 year degree.

      The only reason I got a degree was to prove a point to my son and to wrap up a lifetime of non-traditional training into one piece of paper in case I had to go back to work. The piece of paper says that I can read and learn, maybe. It is a box to check on a job application only.

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  2. Your commentary seems to insinuate that Lampley made a mistake in his choice of school and major.

    Even if he wants to use it to become a humble social worker, there is nothing wrong with that. Social workers serve an important function in society.

    We don’t know this young man’s full situation, so let’s give him a chance to make something of himself first. He certainly received a huge boost from a billionaire and that should lessen his chances of becoming a burden on taxpayers.

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    • I think there needs to be a cost/benefit analysis by individuals. What would he have gained financially crippled by $200,000 debt upon graduation. No, there is nothing wrong with any degree but you have to look at the big picture. The real question is why did it cost $200,000 or more and why did it take six years?

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  3. The sad part is that Americans have been brainwashed by politicians to get these degrees and don’t worry about the costs. If it was a basic sociology degree, the average starting salary is only $35K. According to online mortgage calculators, you can barely qualify for a $200K mortgage IF you have no other debt or loans, and don’t want to eat. Why in the world is the federal government guaranteeing these loans that no bank ever would? These first time colleges students are going it must be OK, they gave me the loan. This is another failed government policy caused by a blank check of giving government backed loans, just like the mortgage crisis.

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