January 30, 2014
Re: Hamilton Spectator Article on Student Loans
To me, the topic of Student Loans is not an issue. An issue implies something that has two sides, both fully debatable. An issue sounds like the mild younger cousin of a problem, or the grandchild of controversy. The failure of student loans is not an issue, it is an outrage.
Having struggled for years to get into a good school like Hamilton, I was willing to accept substantial student loans in order to attend. As my parents both have low incomes and personal debt, I knew I would not have them as a safety net. After graduation, I would have to choose a profitable career with room for growth that would allow me to settle my loans and create the best possible future. I realized that it was a bit of a risk, that I would be walking on a tightrope with no room for accidents or bad decisions. I had faith that I would be able to handle it when the time came, and that I would have help. I was wrong.
The fact is, as a Hamilton College graduate in 2009, I emerged into a world with the worst economy since the Great Depression. A world where I am competing with equally desperate peers, people 20+ years my senior with endless experience, and almost no job openings. We watched door after door slam in our faces, and yet still received those horrifying pieces of paper every month telling us what we owed society. We, who are supposed to be your future. We, who have the power to shape the world. We, who have the same right as every generation before us to pursue our dreams.
That right no longer applies. We do not have the luxury of dreams any more. What we have is bad credit, judgments, and no exceptions. It is a vicious cycle that I simply do not understand: we cannot get a job without a college degree, cannot get a college degree without student loans, cannot pay off loans without a job, but can’t get a job with bad credit. And those who juggle with our lives offer no respite, despite being completely aware of current events and economic devastation. In fact, they hound us constantly, warning us of the consequences of noncompliance. As if we had a choice.
In spring/summer of 2007, as big names started to file for Chapter 11 and sound warning of the inevitable burst looming on the horizon, I first realized that my parents were unable to contribute to my college fund and I would be shouldering the burden alone. As the government and financial institutions battled and tried to erect last defenses in fall of 2008, the collapsing weight of my senior year became my own rapidly thinning bubble. And as reports of numerous bank failures grew in the first quarter of 2009, graduation revealed the extent of my own failure.
Actually, I do not see it as my failure. I see it as a failure of my alma mater, Congress, loan holders, and anyone turning a blind eye. It is time they all took equal responsibility. They laid this burden on our shoulders. They told us that if we studied hard and worked hard that anything was possible. They told us that college is the only way to succeed in life, that is worth it. I wish I could say that was true, but it is not. Nothing, absolutely nothing is worth this.
Nicole Edry ’09