Sunday, February 7, 2016

Student Loan Debtors Wanting The Impossible: Saving For Their Retirement While Saving For Their Children's College

Student loan debt and retirement, or should I say owing student loan debt and saving for retirement, aren't really two things that go together, do they? Not that I have to tell any of my readers this obvious and well-known issue: but honestly, if you are burdened with student loan debt payments every month, how is it even possible to save for retirement? Perhaps some of you are, and if so, you could provide us with tips on how you're doing it.

But let's throw a family into the mix. Let's say you're raising a family, perhaps 2 kids. How are you saving for retirement while raising your family? Furthermore, how are you saving for them to go to college?

I think it's safe to assume that a good chunk of those 43 million Americans who are carrying the burden of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt are struggling to put anything away for retirement, or help their kids save for college.

I was reminded of the retirement problem when reading a recent article published by Forbes. It wasn't really news to me.

There is the interesting twist related to the load of student loan debt about trying to save for your kids, too. That is, how it is most likely a serious struggle for many parents with student loan debt to save for retirement while paying their loans off and raising a family. It reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a young woman who has children. She's a professional, as is her husband - so they are the types who are luckier than many student loan debtors, i.e., they have income to raise a family, service their student loan debt, and - I presume - lead a relatively comfortable life. They are one of the few who are still part of the middle class in the US. But she expressed concerns about saving for her children and their college. We didn't even touch upon the issue of retirement.

She remarked, "I mean, how do I possibly save for my children when my husband and I are still paying off our own student loan debts?" The question illustrates how the crisis is multi-generational.

So, people with student loan debt can't save for retirement. How's that going to work out for expenditures in the future? On top of that, these people who are younger and raising families can't put money away for their own children.

Both problems reveal the complex dimensional aspects of the student loan debt crisis and how young kids who have parents with student loan debt, but who themselves at this point have no debt, are pretty much doomed to take it on. That grim future for these future generations, however, doesn't have to be inevitable. And if we are smart about it, we can also impelement policies for current debtors, with or without kids, to help them prepare financially for retirement.

There are two things that need to be done - helping prospective college students and current debtors - both of which I outline in detail in my forthcoming book (pub date May 2016). 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#FeelTheBern - Sanders gets my vote

Bernie Sanders gets the student loan debt crisis. We, the indentured educated class, need someone like him in office. Plus, he wants free public university. These ideas align with my own regarding higher education.


"Make College Free For All" - Bernie Sanders, Op-Ed, Washington Post, Oct 22, 2015

Monday, January 18, 2016

Loan Watchdog and Ally to Student Debtors, Rohit Chopra, Joins Department of Education

Last week, news outlets and higher education policy circles were abuzz when it was learned that Rohit Chopra, 33, left his previous position as student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to join the Department of Education. Chopra's work as a watchdog against abuses committed by banks and student lenders is well-known. In addition, he has been critical of both the Obama administration and the Department of Education. The news that he has now joined the Department is cause for celebration. I predict that we might actually see tangible policy changes for those of us who carry student loan debt, and changes that are big and meaningful and not just for show. He's a proven ally of borrowers. As was noted in an email to the Washington Post, CFPB Director Richard Cordray had this to say about Chopra's work: "Rohit Chopra has shined a spotlight on the problems facing millions of student loan borrowers as well as the broader impact of their struggle on our economy . . .  His work is respected among policymakers, advocates, and industry. Rohit is setting the bar high as a strong advocate for student borrowers." Cordray made those comments in June of 2015 (see my links below for the full article and original source).

 I look forward to seeing what happens within the Department now that he has joined them. As one of my sources recently told me, "The news that Chopra has joined the Department is very good, perhaps we'll see things shaken up a bit."

AEM will certainly be keeping tabs on Chopra's work there.

Finally, if you're interested, here is a link to Chopra's author archive at the CFPB.


The Obama Administration Just Hired One of Its Biggest Critics," The Huffington Post, January 13, 2016

Consumer watchdog says goodbye to student loan pointman , The Washington Post, June 17, 2015

CFPB Official Speaks Loudly on Student Loans, WSJ, December 3, 2014

CFPB student-loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra at a hearing on student loans in June.
Source: Photographer Unknown

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Problem Persists - Suicides and Student Loan Debt

Since I am going through old posts to wrap up the final chapters of my book, I am reminded of the work I did before anyone else was talking about the student loan debt crisis. So much has changed since I began this project over 6 years ago! 

The below link is to my interview on NPR in the summer of 2012. It is about the suicides related to student loan debt. The topic still has relevance as a specific chapter of my book details this serious mental health issue. 

As I said, if you are interested in listening, I've posted the link below. I myself was going through a major change, a life changing event, one that proved to be incredibly painful and laden with tremendous personal loss, and so I wasn't even sure I could bring myself to go to the radio studio and discuss such a heavy and emotionally difficult topic. But I knew I had to do it, so I did.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Plans: Addendum

Many of my readers have noticed that I have been quiet on AEM, and for quite a few years as a matter of fact. It is true. I haven't posted nearly as many things as I had in the past. At one point, I was posting up to 3-4 pieces, and many of those pieces included in-depth analysis, every day. Even though I had full-time work, AEM was another full-time job, and that made me proud, as it was a way for me to be of service to a group of people - the indentured educated class - who lack a voice, especially in Washington, D.C. Sadly, we remain collateral damage, an afterthought in this city. But I digress . . .

Just yesterday I provided a short update about my plans for 2016.

This post is intended to expand upon why I have been so quiet. There is one big reason for my notable absence: working on my manuscript. I've had to focus all of my energy on this project, an endeavor that has been exhausting and daunting, as well as exhilarating. Of course, exhilaration in and of itself can be tiring, particularly when you combine that with being overwhelmed by the sheer fact that are you trying to get a book out the door. I was certainly not naive when I began this journey.I knew it would be long and grueling. That said, I could not foresee several life-changing events when I first began working on my manuscript. Those life-changing events, incidentally, are mentioned in the preface to my forthcoming book (May 2016).  

While those life-changing events at the time were not easy (duh!), I am grateful for the insights they have offered me in the department of "how Cryn needs to engage in self-care and self-advocacy." More than anything, they taught me a great deal about patience, something I needed to apply to the manuscript as well as to my work as an activist.

2016 is young. Only 10 days have passed since the world celebrated this New Year. I don't know about you, but I have a strong sense that 2016 is going to be a great year, and I am excited to begin announcing all the changes I am making and the new projects that will enable me to continue being of service to the indentured educated class.