Student Loan Debt – Cruel and Unusual Punishment
I can recall reading an article on CNN.com entitled “Student Loans – a life sentence”. I laughed when I read the title because in the back of my mind I felt like the title should have said “student loans – a death sentence”. The student in the article was a recent graduate with $34,000.00 in student loan debt. As with many others, I have an abundance of debt. In fact I have a whopping $64,000.00 in student loan debt.
Wow! Imagine that, I paid $64k for 2 college degrees, paralegal certificate and I am not making nearly half of my debt. When I hear the stories and read articles on the recurring issue of students graduating from college with degrees and debt it saddens my heart. It is so frustrating and depressing to know you followed the rules of society. By that I mean the American Dream, you know graduate from high school, graduate from college and get a good job with benefits. Well I did that and guess where it landed me? Unemployed with a life sentence of student loan debt. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. In fact with the exception of my mortgage this is the only other debt that I have. I thank God I sought financial wisdom and decided to snowball my debt. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to snowball the student loans and the mortgage. When I tell people my story about my debt the thing I always hear is, “you need more income”. Well I know that!
Not too long ago I worked for a competitive commercial real estate company, prior to that I was in law enforcement for 3 years. Anyway, I worked for this real estate company for a little over 5 years before the company decided to downsize our department and outsource to India. Can you believe that? That seems to be the norm in our country today. Instead of keeping jobs here in the U.S., corporations and companies feel they will save more money if they outsourced to cheaper labor. Now that’s cruel and unusual punishment. It seems to me a more productive and cost efficient solution would be to cut upper management salaries, reduce travel expenses and cut back on overhead. Now that sounds logical to me but let us not forget if they did that, it would mean they possibly couldn’t afford their 8 bedroom mansion, overpriced cars, cabin on the lake, etc.
I was given a decent severance package if you consider 1 week for every year you were employed with the company up to 12 years. I received 5 weeks severance package which basically amounted to one month salary. I was eligible for unemployment but you all know how much that is. It will cover the basics like utilities and food.
Like others I continue to search and search for employment relative to my credentials and experience and either you receive no call backs on the interview, your over qualified or you don’t meet their requirements. The never ending frustration of not being able to get employment making at least the amount of money you made prior to your unemployment is down right depressing. I’ve gone through all the motions of mortgage being late, utilities being late, not having gas in your car, cutting back on food, overdraft fees from the bank, receiving not so friendly telephone calls about your past due account. You name it, I’ve experienced it.
The mortgage company is the worst, they always say they don’t want to foreclose on the property because it’s expensive and it’s a long process but they give you very little options. Yes, they have special programs to assist you if you are having difficulty meeting your mortgage payments but some of those programs require you making a certain amount of income each month. If you don’t meet the basic requirement they recommend you sell your home. What good is that going to do? You still need a place to live. Who’s to say you will be able to get an apartment with your credit not so good because you lost your job and things became late or in default. Who can afford the apartment rates around here? Your better off purchasing a house. Employers, mortgage companies, apartments and the credit bureaus never take into account the situation you are in are no fault of your own. Imagine that, you having an income plays a major role in maintaining a decent credit score, being able to pay your bills and being able to purchase a home.
You know what hurts so much? Saving and putting money away in your 401K and rolling it over to an IRA only to have to take money out to avoid foreclosure of your home and to make ends meet and be penalized at the end of the year because you withdrew money before your 59 1/2 birthday. This too is cruel and unusual punishment. I am so determined not to let life keep me from fulfilling my purpose in life. I thank God I have people in my life to give me wisdom and insight.
Although I do not have a “9 to 5” job in corporate America, I no longer consider myself unemployed but self-employed. I decided to fight fire with fire and utilize my skills and education to generate my own income. I’ve come to learn a lot about “income streams”. I’ve also decided to start my own business but of course it requires me obtaining some additional education and training. I am excited about what God has purposed in my heart but still saddened about the struggle of fulfilling this purpose. I am also saddened by the many others who struggle just as I do and have to put life on hold.
They are not able to purchase a home, an affordable vehicle, get married and start a family because of there astronomical student loan debt hanging over their head. I currently have 2 small income streams which basically cover most of my household expenses, I still come up short with the mortgage payment but it gets paid eventually.
I know there are others who situation is much worse than mine but I do want to encourage them by saying, “Everything God created was created to solve a problem”, let this be your motivation to create witty business ideas to generate your own source of income. Now understand that the adversity will sometimes be a bit to manage and the trials and triumph will not be easy, but if you would just use your pain and the passion God has given toward what you are purposed in life to do, watch how things will begin to change. You cannot move forward looking in the rear view mirror.