Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Why can't a woman become a social worker without it leading to financial ruin?
Gina Moss, a single mother, from Baltimore decided to go to college in the hopes of carving out a better life for herself and her daughter. Ms. Moss, however, worried about the cost of going to school. But then she was offered a package from a school in Ohio that she simply couldn't turn down. This entailed taking out about $7,000 a year in loans in order to become a social worker. But there were other costs - books, living expenses, etc. - so when Ms. Moss graduated, she told the reporter in this interview about the student loan debt crisis, that she ended up owing around $50,000. As a result of accrued interest, Ms. Moss now owes well over $70,000. That number continues to grow minute by minute, day by day, month by month. She is not alone . . .
She cannot find a job in her field. She has no support from the man who is the father of her child. Why? Ms. Moss was sexually assaulted in school. A traumatic experience that no person ought to face. But violence like this is unfortunately all too common. After the assault, Ms. Moss learned that she was pregnant. She made the decision to keep her child.
At one point the reporter asked, "why didn't you think about getting a degree that would allow you to earn more money?"
Ms. Moss replied, "at the time I didn't think about. I didn't think about getting an MBA or a law degree . . ."
While I appreciate this report overall, I think that question was a poor one. This woman wanted to become a social worker, because she likes to help people. As a result of wanting to help people, and not earning an MBA or a law degree, Ms. Moss is now homeless. Why? She took out FFELP loans. These loans were in collection, and Ms. Moss was advised by this lender's collection department to pay money on her loan instead of on her rent. Since I abide by the belief that in order to truly understand a person's life and struggles, you must walk in that person's shoes first, I will not judge her for the decision she made. I can only imagine the critics and their loud, taunting voices on here, shouting things like: "Well, she should have known better!" or "Why would she have taken such stupid advice. It's her own fault!"
Instead of standing afar and casting a cruel judging eye upon this particular woman, I want to emphasize that her struggle is a collective one. Go to the message boards affixed to all these stories about student lending issues - you will find thousands and thousands of stories like Gina Moss's! She is NOT alone. But yet we all feel very alone, don't we? We - the new indentured educated class - have been effectively silenced by a corrupted, bureaucratized system and now our bourgeois spaces serve as our prisons. These enclosed spaces were once, for the educated bourgeoisie - safe havens, but not anymore. Not for this new indentured educated class.
So, we may have access to internet, own a nice television (Ms. Moss, mind you, does not even have a T.V nor does she have a home), but we are enslaved by the student lending industry (I also see the DOE as culpable).
I ask Mr. Obama: are we REALLY engaged citizens? What sort of change are you offering your educated middle-class, Mr. President?
If Mr. Obama had not written that wonderful memoir about his father, HE and HIS WIFE would still have student loan debt. THE president of THE United States of America would still owe debt had it not been for that marvelous book. Now, I ask all of you, even the critics, doesn't that seem ABSURD?
At least glaneurs could glean without the fear of accruing interest from the things they collected! What sort of prison have we created for our own class?