We are reminded of the increased burden of our student loans on a daily basis (for some there are hourly reminders). We have Sallie Mae loan sharks calling us in the early hours of the morning every single day. We have been stripped of our spending power (i.e., our credit cards). We have been stripped of our earnings with garnished wages, or even worse we have been stripped of possible careers that would have meant something for our now sorry futures. Sadly, many of us have been stripped of our dignity, and those who still cling to it know that it will soon be seized from them. (But do not give up hope. Even if you feel you've lost your dignity. For even when carrying out the most mundane of acts in which we "perform" in everyday life, there are endless possibilities for resistance. The texture of everyday life provides us with the ability to act and to do it together).
At the macro level, however, the indentured educated class is drowning and with it so is the middle class of America.
Many people are writing to me now and telling me they are suicidal, admitting to abusing alcohol (the age old 'remedy' to calm the nerves), and so forth. I try my best to be a resource and am humbled and honored to receive such raw, honest messages - I invite anyone to write to me. Part of my job as an advocate is to offer resources to the most desperate. More than that, I am simply here to listen to your stories. Someone must listen to you.
On another depressing note, defaulting on student loans is no longer uncommon. If it's not the norm, it's fast approaching that status. Indeed, defaults have sky-rocketed (as of October 2009, SLA reported that it was at $50.8 billion, and greater than the total GDP for Serbia!).
The macro understanding of these sorts of disasters matter to me (I was trained, after all, as a social scientist and historian). However, the personal stories that so many of you have shared with me are far more important and in my mind are far more revealing. These testaments show us the devastating affects of the student lending crisis. So, I have two questions for you, and hope that many of you will answer them (you can always post her anonymously):
(a) "how has the economic downturn changed your attitude about your student loans?"
(b) "do you have any strategic plans when or if you default?"