Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Michelle Obama's Convention Speech And Student Loan Debt

Photo Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Student loans were mentioned several times in Michelle Obama's moving speech last night at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her talk has been widely praised by the press, and twitter was abuzz with positive remarks as the First Lady spoke. In fact, people were so engaged while she was speaking there were over 28,000 tweets per minute when she finished - of  course - to thunderous applause.

When it comes to student loans and debt, she spoke openly of how her father helped her get through college by taking out loans to cover part of her tuition.

But here's the strongest point she made about the shared debt she had with the man she fell deeply in love with, married, and continues to support:
Believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.
If there is one thing to take away from this remark - regardless of your political leanings - it is this: don't let your debt destroy your relationships. If you're having problems with your current partner or a family member who co-signed on one of your loans, stick it out. Work through it together. Don't forget that there are people fighting for you and your family. There are people fighting every day to ensure that those of us who are part of the indentured educated class will have a better, brighter future.

I applaud the First Lady for openly and unashamedly discussing their own struggles with paying their student loan debt and trying to juggle other financial obligations.

It's truly time to overcome the shame of having debt, and it's also time to come up with viable solutions. One thing is certain, if re-elected, President Obama has a lot of work to do on this front. 

Read the full transcript of the speech here [Source: NPR]


Anonymous said...

I am a 53 year old woman and I have voted for the Democratic candidate in every election of my adult life. I found Michele Obama's speech sappy and patronizing. I will not vote Obama because I fear that student loans will be the next mortgage crisis. We should not be encouraging crippling student loan debt. We should encourage students to get the best education they can reasonably afford.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see Mrs. Obama's speech but I have to agree with the person above me. It almost sounds as if she is saying, "Hey, we had debt and we made it out so you guys can, too!"

The combined monthly student loan payments that my husband and I have could literally pay 4 or 5 monthly mortgages. We are not both lawyers the way that Mr. and Mrs. Obama are. We are middle-aged people who are moving into my parents' home because we can no longer afford the rent for our one-bedroom apartment thanks to our student loans. We want children more than anything but of course will never be able to afford them. I really hope that Mrs. Obama was implying that students need help, not that they can make it the way she did back in in the day before things became so out of control. If her husband truly cares so desperately about the student loan crisis, then he would have/will place as much effort in its reform as he did in health care reform.

Cryn, I believe you are saving lives. Thank you for reassuring us that there are people fighting for us.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Thanks for your comments - I appreciate your honesty, and I feel - truly feel - your pain. Your stories are what inspires me to continue this fight. I think what is important to keep in mind is this: the First Lady openly spoke of having debt. You're right. Not all Americans went to top law schools and so forth. But I think that their willingness to speak about it is notable. I've been fighting on behalf of the indentured educated class for 3 years. When I first began meeting with politicians and policy analysts to discuss the issue, they were unwilling to publicly admit that there was a flow blown student lending crisis. However, in face-to-face meetings, they did agree with me on that point. Yet weren't willing to speak about it publicly. I am encouraged by how much has changed in terms of public acknowledgment of the problem. That's why we must continue to put pressure on our politicians and the higher education community - we must INSIST the following: we now agree that a crisis exists. That means steps need to be made to SOLVE the problem. The time has arrived. We're in a new phase, and this phase will require seeing actual results.

Hang in there.

I know how hard it is. This sort of debt - as we all know well - can destroy people and their lives.

Tiffany Gholar said...

I saw her speech and was very impressed with it. I think that it's great that she is so willing and open to talk about student loan debt; it's nothing to be ashamed of. I didn't find the tone patronizing. To me, the Obamas seem very grounded and very aware that but for the sales of the President's book and his political successes, they'd still be paying off their loans.

And Cryn, I really like your observation that "If there is one thing to take away from this remark - regardless of your political leanings - it is this: don't let your debt destroy your relationships." Now if I can just convince my fiance... Or sell enough copies of my own book!

Unknown said...

I am a college graduate with a double minor in psychology and criminal justice. All I wanted to do was go out into the world and stop the people who hurt and take advantage of the weak and innocent. I volunteered at countless events, signed up for the Community Emergency Response Team at my college, managed to hold a 40hr/wk job, and graduated with honors. I feel like I deserve some kind of break. If they cannot tackle this issue, they should at least put their focus towards tax debt relief . I am sick of hearing about good people suffering with money problems while other get free money from the government and use it to buy the latest iPhone. Thank you for sharing the importance of crippling this horrible student debt crisis.

Anonymous said...

Cheri Honkala, an advocate for the homeless, is running for vice-president on the Green Party. I'll probably vote for her or pencil-in Roseann Barr or Stephen Colbert. Won't be voting for Obama (the black George Bush) though.