Get an education, that's what we're all told right?
It takes that sheepskin to climb the ladder of success, no matter what field of endeavor you enter. But that sheepskin costs big bucks, and most of us plebians don't have the wherewithal to pay out-of-pocket for the privilege of earning a degree.
So I, like millions of Americans, took out loans to supplement the tiny Pell Grant that I qualified for from the start.
And those loans pile up quickly!
My college education (a bachelor's degree in journalism) cost nearly $100,000.00. Add to that a second stint in a two-year "job skills" college - about $20,000 - and I'm in the hole from the moment those degrees are imprinted with my name.
They become albatrosses that lay across my neck every year.
Forebearances and deferments carried me through the first few years of repayment; and then an income-based repayment schedule made it possible to carry the monthly 'vig' for the past couple of years.
Now, somehow Navient (the loan managing bureaucracy that took over from Sallie Mae) has somehow decided that I make more than $6,000 per month and, therefore, wants me to pay $913 every month for the next 144 months. Problem is, I don't make nearly that amount. In fact, $913 if about 45.24 percent of my take home pay, which will put in the poor house really quickly.
So now I must get on the phone (by 8 p.m. EST on Fridays - thank you) and thrash out this situation with a Navient representative - someone who, I'm sure, is an expert in public relations and fiscal calculations, as well as someone who has the authority to enter a code in my computer account file to recalculate my monthly payments to actually FIT my income.
Somehow I have my doubts about that rosy scenario.
My experience tells me that this phone call I'll be making tomorrow is going to be an emotionally wrenching, spiritually crushing, psychologically debilitating experience that, in the end, will find me in the docks at a debtors prison somewhere in Iowa, or South Dakota.
Student loans are a glimmer of hope when one begins the process of pursuing a college degree.
But they quickly become a voracious, implacable, flesh-eating shark if you fall afoul of the rules and regulations - which, by the way, are a shifting, moving target.
So to all you youngsters out there who're thinking of taking a student loan to pay for a college degree - think twice, think three times - think some more before you sign that document that puts your soul in hock for the rest of your life.
Do you really want to earn an extra $10,000 a year with a degree only to have 50 percent of it paid to the loan holder in interest fees?
Please hear me.
Don't do it. It's a soul-sucking mud pit.