Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quick Post - MUST WATCH: "Paying Back Not Giving Back"

Before I left L.A. for Seoul, South Korea, I was interviewed by three documentary makers. Here is the first piece by Ramblin' Man Films.

I want to be clear: I am not a part of this movement as an advocate because I "can't pay" my own bills. It is my belief that we should be of service to others in our community, and that's what I have done, and continue to do, as a student loan advocate. But as many of you know, I simply couldn't find a job - of any kind - in the U.S., so when my new company in Korea offered me a job to teach (something I love), I couldn't turn it down.



Audrey said...

I just want to thank you for this blog. I dread my graduation date next Winter and have been putting it off. Sallie Mae have used their predatory lending strategies on me and my family because we didn't have another choice. I come from a small town in Missouri and seems that my only choice (at the time, it was all I knew) was school or drugs. I feel that I have been punished for choosing the former.

SO, I have decided to stay in school as long as I can and continue on with a masters. No one I know who has graduated with an English degree is getting a decent job and Sallie Mae's system for payback seems to differ depending on who I talk to. Some people have outrageous payments like 1,000+ a month and don't even bother trying to pay it because there is absolutely no way that can happen. Graduating with an English degree and with a prospect such as that on my horizon I can't imagine what the point of graduating and attempting to find a job in this climate will do for me. It seems pointless. I feel trapped, so I choose the option where I am the least trapped.

Thanks for this blog, I continually feel helpless and disturbed by the state of things right now and am hopeful that things will get better because such a setup of oppression cannot possibly be sustainable. I can't say that it's going to come easy because I feel as students we are a minority and people (including people I know in my hometown) believe we chose this kind of debt. No one cares and are quick to blame me for my own stupidity for going to school. Isn't that insane?

I think that it's equally as insane that people's gambling debt can be dropped in bankruptcy but not student loan debt. Something will change because people, including myself, aren't going to allow themselves to be treated like modern day serfs. I mean, lets get real here.

Now that I have gotten older and past the midwestern small mindset that I was raised around, I can certainly say that if I knew what I know now I would wait to go to college and live my life. I would go work on an organic farm somewhere. Unfortunately, I can't do that now. Not until things are fixed up a little bit. I am hopeful that in the future I will get the freedom to do something like that because it isn't just student lending that is an issue, it's the entire system right now. Things will change.

Thanks again.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Audrey. Those of us in this predicament know that things must change, and it's not because we're lazy or want so-called hand-outs. Instead, we're seeking justice and making a larger point about the meaning of higher education in the U.S. If you continue to force people to take out loans for their education, and they graduate and find no work, what's the point of going to school? What will this mean when it comes to being a competitor at the global level? You want to educate your citizens, but you expect them to pay enormous amounts of money for that education? Sorry. It's insane. You're right.

I encourage you to get involved (if you haven't already). Feel free to email me whenever you wish (ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com).

Don't ever forget that you chose the best path - instead of drugs, you decided to pursue higher education. That was certainly not a mistake. We must make a point to push for major change and call for the restructuring of the entire system, so that people like you won't second guess their decision to go to school instead of doing drugs.