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comment by oyster
oyster  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments

I'm pretty sure I will always find it weird when you call somebody else condescending. If your default tone can be described as condescending that is how people will respond to you and I'm a little surprised you aren't used to it by now.

The problems you are talking about are related to crappy public transportation and expensive healthcare, not student debt. If people finish school with $8 900 in debt they likely dropped out or got a useless diploma from a private college. Sure that isn't a small amount to everybody but relative to what others spend on tuition it's very small. Even if they didn't have student debt to pay for the public transportation would still be garbage, healthcare would still be too expensive and they would still be struggling to keep their heads above water.

What's fair to say is that I certainly didn't understand just how bad things are in American, because 1) I don't live there and 2) for every person who tells you how bad things are 3 more downplay the hell out of it. I have no desire to pretend like everybody who is poor is merely bad with money but I don't see the point in ignoring that we don't teach people anything about personal finance either. We also don't teach people to take out student loans unless they are sure they will actually pay off. I know somebody now who's in her third program because she has no idea what she wants to do but as long as she keeps studying interest wont start accumulating. She actually received grants to pay the tuition every year and the loans where for living expenses. Nobody teaches young people anything about this shit and instead just tells them they have to do it. We actually help many people go to school without accumulating to much debt where I live and we still have a problem of young people accumulating useless debt.

I'm not saying opinions on the internet are invalid, what I'm saying is that I'm not going to completely abandon an opinion that many people just need help figuring out personal finance because other people have different experiences. That doesn't override what I see from a lot of people who would have been helped a lot by a simple finance class in high school. What I will admit is that on top of this issue America has A LOT of other issues which I wasn't aware of to work on whereas that's not such a problem where I live.




user-inactivated  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  x 3

I'm taking the time to pause A Fistful of Dollars to respond to this (great movie by the way, as is Yojimbo) because I like you and hate this topic, not for what the topic is, but because of the emotional weight behind it. I think though, that it's important, because here in the States, the poor are villianized by everyone, even themselves and I think a bit of perspective is important if we're to try and fight this issue.

    The problems you are talking about are related to crappy public transportation and expensive healthcare, not student debt. If people finish school with $8 900 in debt they likely dropped out or got a useless diploma from a private college. Sure that isn't a small amount to everybody but relative to what others spend on tuition it's very small. Even if they didn't have student debt to pay for the public transportation would still be garbage, healthcare would still be too expensive and they would still be struggling to keep their heads above water.

The problem with being poor is lack of money. Period. This lack of money manifests problems in so many ways and they often overlap and intersect each other that it creates a weighted net, to keep you tangled up and weighed down. There are a lot of problems in America. In some parts of the country, things are a bigger problem than others. In New York City and Chicago for example, public transportation might not be an issue, but rent is expensive as hell and food deserts are a threat to the well being of you and your family. The neighborhoods the poor can afford to live in often have problems with crime and disease and the general environment has a psychological impact on the people that live there. In places that are less dense, like my example of Ohio and Wisconsin, rent is much more manageable, but since things are more sprawled out, transportation becomes an issue. Food might be more abundant as well, but if the nearest Wal-Mart is three towns over, you might have to settle for the mom and pop grocery store down the road for the majority of groceries. Their selection won't be as good and you'll pay a higher price. A quarter or two on every piece of food you buy from them quickly adds up. Under normal conditions, people can balance things out relatively well, but it is very much a balancing act. Once you start having problems with your car though, or your personal health, or the people in your lives that are supposed to help support you, things can go pretty sour pretty quickly. What's harder, is sometimes the social safety nets you think are there for you, really aren't. For example, when I was having money problems, I knew there was no point in my going to a food bank. They'd see that I worked two jobs and had no dependents, so they'd turn me away. When you're poor, your options are limited, robbing you the flexibility to creatively solve problems.

    What's fair to say is that I certainly didn't understand just how bad things are in American, because 1) I don't live there and 2) for every person who tells you how bad things are 3 more downplay the hell out of it.

That's okay. True story, America is a huge place. Poor people in Maine probably have a different experience than poor people in Florida who probably have a different experience than poor people in Texas. Poor people in the South West probably don't have to complain about their heating bill, but poor people in Maine probably don't have to worry about suffering from heat stroke because they don't have central air. Different people have different problems and experience them to different degrees.

As for the people who downplay how hard it is being poor, we only have our selves to blame. For some reason, Americans in general have no problem with victim blaming, so when people who are poor fuck up and get taken advantage of, it's obviously their fault. Another issue is, a lot of Americans have a lot of pride. When I was going through money problems, I never once thought about going to my parents for help nor did I try to seek help from my local community like the churches around here. Would they have helped me if I asked? More than likely. Did the thought of asking ever cross my mind? Not once. But I did ask my peers for help, because they know what it was like to have the problems I had and so I didn't have to fear their judgement. When my car was broken down, I asked for lifts from anyone who was willing. When I was desperately hungry and pay day was two days away, I asked people to float me for lunch. The thing is though, the only reason I got help when I asked for it because they knew I would repay them when their time to ask me for help came. If I didn't, they wouldn't help me again.

    I have no desire to pretend like everybody who is poor is merely bad with money but I don't see the point in ignoring that we don't teach people anything about personal finance either. We also don't teach people to take out student loans unless they are sure they will actually pay off.

My parents did teach me about personal finance and responsibility. They taught me the importance of a good work ethic and to playing safe bets. The thing is though, when your income is really limited, all it takes is a mistake or two to throw you over the edge. My money problems came from renting a place I couldn't afford and having an irresponsible room mate that couldn't hold down a job. It took a while to get myself out of that hole and it took even longer to recover from it. It also took me willing to be homeless, swallow my pride, and live on my friend's couch for a month, commuting 45 minutes to and from work each day to make it happen. It was not fun and I think I would rather die than go through all of that again. I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that.

The thing is, a lot of people who are poor know they're being fucked with. Check cashing fees, pay day loans, wage theft and last minute schedule changes from employers, bad landlords, on and on it goes. When you're poor though, a lot of times those are the only options you have. Back to my homelessness and living on my friend's couch. I had to leave my living situation, room mate and all, but I had absolutely no chance of paying a security deposit and first month's rent on a new place. So I cancelled my lease, left that place, and crashed on my friend's couch. The only reason I was able to get out so early was because my girlfriend at the time, now wife, was an angel and was willing to trust me enough to get a place with me. The security of living with her, her being responsible and making money to combine with my income, was exactly what I needed to get out of debt. I'm now in a much, much better financial place today and I live a good life because of it. But, I literally could not have done it without her. Not a lot of people get a saving grace like that.

    Nobody teaches young people anything about this shit and instead just tells them they have to do it.

This is indeed a problem. Landlords and employers take advantage of people all the time because they don't know the laws. Predatory lending companies take advantage of people who lack the financial savy to understand how interest and late fees work. Ignorance is a huge issue, but the fact that there are people out there who are willing to prey on the ignorant to make a living are a huge part of the problem.

    I'm not saying opinions on the internet are invalid, what I'm saying is that I'm not going to completely abandon an opinion that many people just need help figuring out personal finance because other people have different experiences. That doesn't override what I see from a lot of people who would have been helped a lot by a simple finance class in high school. What I will admit is that on top of this issue America has A LOT of other issues which I wasn't aware of to work on whereas that's not such a problem where I live.

Don't feel bad about having an opinion and trying to think this stuff through. You actually have a very good idea about the whole cars thing in general, but not specifically cars themselves. Cutting unnecessary expenses to help tackle debt goes a long way. It's also important though, to not look down on poor people who spend money on things like movies and booze. Entertainment and leisure is important for everyone and it gives us a much needed psychological boost to help deal with the hardships of life.

Look, this stuff is hard. It's heavy. It is devastatingly painful to witness and it is even more painful to live. When people like kleinbl00, mk, steve and others talk about this stuff, it's because why they themselves might never have had this problem, they're smart enough to understand some of the trends and what causes them. (Edit: That's not to say you're not smart, because you very much are and I love seeing your comments on Hubski.) They're people you can listen to about this stuff because they probably know. You can listen to me, because I lived it and the majority of my peers are still living it, it's such a part of me that I don't think it'll ever go away, no matter how badly I want it to.

Let me just end with this. There are a lot of outreach programs for poor people out there, from churches to food pantries to social programs. They help tackle issues of all types caused by poverty, taking care of both short term problems and helping to fight the fight in the long run. If this is something that even remotely causes you concern, I highly encourage you to educate yourself on some of the resources out there and how to find them, that way if you ever see someone you love going through a hard time, you can lend them a hand.

ButterflyEffect  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The neighborhoods the poor can afford to live in often have problems with crime and disease and the general environment has a psychological impact on the people that live there.

This is far from the most important things you hit on, but great point about the psychological impact of where a person lives. Recently started to develop an interest in psychogeograpy, maybe this is something veen knows a bit about.

veen  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My 1100 page geo-bible has a page on it, linking it to situationalists. I didn't know there was a specific word for the idea that psychogeography stands for but it is something that almost all human geographers either take for granted or allude to with the word place. I even wrote about it.

Case in point: this essay/rant by Mike Davis, where he burns LA to the ground for being a terrible place. It was written 26 years ago but just as relevant today.

bfv  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    My 1100 page geo-bible has a page on it, linking it to situationalists.

Those aren't the Situationists it's referring to, it's these guys.

veen  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ah, I thought they were the same.

steve  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    steve and others talk about this stuff, it's because why they themselves might never have had this problem,

I won't pretend to come from abject poverty, but my childhood was LEAN. I know what powdered milk tastes like. When I was 12 and got MY FIRST PAIR OF JEANS (as opposed to the clothes my mom had made for us my entire life), one of my older sisters freaked out because she didn't get a pair of jeans until she was 16 and had to pay for half of them.

When I write about poverty, it comes from the lens of my own lean childhood, but really more from my current work at church. I spend a lot of time trying to help people lift themselves out of poverty. Poverty is super complex. There are no easy answers. It is often a learned behavior.

In this context of student loans - I don't feel like I have the street cred to talk about it other than academically. I was fortunate to go to Uni in the mid 90s to a private university that is (strangely) much cheaper than almost every public school I know. I received some grants and scholarships and only had to borrow a little bit. I was fortunate to have a fairly solid understanding of debts and loans - that I took when I was 22.... not when I was 18. Wow - this comment is all over the place. I should probably delete it...

Schools that prey on students and promise things they can't deliver SUCK.

Students who borrow more than they should for an english degree are asking for a life of pain.

The system that has grown like a greedy tumor at the expense of so many people's financial ruin makes me sick.

There are no easy Macro numbers.... but there are some micro solutions that can work for each person.

oyster  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think where my thoughts come from is that when I see a figure like $8,900 I am seeing the people in my life who have no idea what they're doing. Not people who have it rough from the start necessarily but also not people who have it crazy easy. Just "middle class" people who's parents where never able to save for their education. Those people also don't get grants so they either have to put off going to school or get in debt. What I see is how incredibly easy it is to get $10 000 in debt as a 20 year old. Whether that's by signing up for a program you don't actually care about just because it's what you are supposed to do or moving out with the wrong people. I remember my friend graduated from engineering debt free because he saved from when he started working in high school. I worked the same job as him, with similar hours and had nothing to show for it. Literally nothing and I'm the norm not him. I still don't understand it because it's not like he was a recluse. He had a car, he went out drinking, he built computers ( I don't think that's cheap), he just lived life generally and still managed this. I can't figure out how he did it and I don't think anybody I know could either.

When I look at most of my friends though, they took on debt to go to a program and now they can't even use it. It's really easy to just say screw it to paying it off in that situation because you don't actually gain anything obvious from doing it. They got stuck with bad roommates or were the bad roommates. It's so easy for a young person to just move in with their friends because why not ? Then they get stuck with all this money to pay when someone can't and all of a sudden it just gets out of control. Especially when now this person finally finished school and wants to get on with their life. Maybe they met somebody and they want to have kids so they think screw all that debt it doesn't really matter. It was money they had to spend year ago for one stupid roommate which they put behind them. People don't want to put off their lives to pay off the debt so they just don't pay it.

In fairness, this is an article about students in America so my experience is likely less realistic and I should have known that going in. There are tons of grants for students for low income families in Ontario and our federal government introduced plans to make it so that until a person is making $25 000/year they don't have to make a payment. Interest won't accumulate over that time either ( well it does but the government pays it ).

I am the poor person spending money on entertainment and booze. :) I don't even blame the people who find themselves in this situation, most of them where my friends who where just doing what they thought they were supposed to do and now years down the road are pissed off about having to pay this money back.

Edit: I'm also pretty sure he didn't deal drugs before anybody says that.

steve  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Just "middle class" people who's parents where never able to save for their education.

This is an interesting concept for me... I know this has become a bit of an expectation, or a norm - but I've never understood it. Why is it my parents' responsibility to pay for my education? And now that I have a teenager - why is it my responsibility to pay for his?

Of all of the contributing factors to the cost of education... I think this is one. Why WOULDN'T a school charge more when they know Johnny's parents are paying instead of Johnny himself?

I don't know... I'm weird about this topic... if a kid (I shouldn't' call him/her a kid...) - if a young adult wants more out of life than minimum wage, then he/she should get some valuable training. Take a forklift operator certification class. Become a plumbers apprentice. Shoot - my wife hated Uni. When she finished her Associates degree, she bailed and went to Medical Assistant school. She made a great career of that for a few years. You wanna be a tenured Anthropology professor at a quaint little liberal arts university? Heaven help you - it's gonna cost you, and you're gonna get paid peanuts.

oyster  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not really sure what came first, the expectation that parents help out or the high price. My parents have helped out how they could but none of us actually went to University. That always makes things substantially less expensive and I don't know how much they would want to help out if they didn't think the programs would pay off either. I feel like that would result in a lengthy wtf is your actual plan discussion. I don't really know anybody who could completely finance their childs education.

I still made minimum wage when I drove a forklift :( but I agree with your general sentiment because these things are really valuable. I could have got my certificate and worked somewhere that paid more but I wasn't in to that. I have a few friends who ended up as plumbers or ironworkers which are really smart careers. Most parents I know want to help because they know it will put their kids on the right track so they won't have to help out much later in life. Granted that backfires sometimes and a lot of people just really can't help.

I think all in all parents are more likely to either help or want to help if they know the program will get their child somewhere.

user-inactivated  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  

What you're describing sounds a lot like for profit colleges, like Devry or Phoenix. I wonder if for profit colleges are a thing in Canada. Here, in the States, they are. They're a big problem too, they're one of those kinds of companies that profit off the poor. Basically, they convince the poor, minorities, and former servicemen into going their schools, promising cheap and easy education. They're extremely aggressive in recruiting and they often go after people who can get loans for school easily due to their social status, but don't know any better to use their loans for trade schools or community colleges. The degrees they give you are worthless, because they have a reputation for teaching crummy classes. What's worse, most of their credits don't transfer to real schools. When you combine for profit colleges with smaller colleges who often lose accreditation, a lot of people are left high and dry with debt.

I wonder if living with a lower income is easier in Canada too, thanks to your social health care and probably cheaper rent and such. I'd actually love to see a comparison of Canada's food welfare programs versus programs like Foodstamps and WIC here in the States. God knows you probably do have better health care, even with waiting lists. Hell, I don't live in Canada and even I had to wait a month and a half to see a doctor more times than I like to admit. It sucks. The least they could have done was make it free.

oyster  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We have thing called career colleges which I think are very similar and receive similar complaints about crummy classes. A friend of mine went to a college in my city which had a really good Massage Therapy program with these two girls who had transferred from one of these colleges ( I think it was Everest) and they were so behind they pretty much had to restart. I can't imagine how pissed off I would be paying off the debt from that school. Even reputable colleges however have programs which don't really benefit the student as I'm sure any school does but people do it since they think they should. Which is a really crummy way to go about things. My only friend who really has his life together joined the military, and from constantly looking at people struggle I'm determined to just pay it off as quickly as possible. For me to achieve that I tell myself it's a small amount and life will be so darn grand after I'm done. If I told myself it was a huge amount then I wouldn't see how I was able to pay it off and I would just give up. It's like I get you aren't supposed to have everything figured out at 20 but I really wish they didn't make it so easy to fuck everything up at that age.

    I wonder if living with a lower income is easier in Canada

I'm getting that impression ! I mean I got lucky in a lot of ways, my first job as a part time cashier gave me 100% prescription drug coverage so on top of not having to worry about doctors visits I also didn't worry about prescriptions. On top of that I got 10% off groceries which might seem small to start but it's not. I kept that job through college because on top of that I was guaranteed a certain number of hours for being there for a long time. After that I worked in a bar and I am fully aware I got that job because of looks/body. OH and also server wage in Ontario is higher than some minimum wages I've seen in the states. I could have easily stuck with that and done quite well for myself but I wanted to travel for work a bit. The local doctors office that most of my family goes to is amazing too, I don't know how they swing it but they have a counselor you can see for free. The wait list can be like 3 week long but as you point out you've waited longer to see a doctor that you paid for. So ya I got lucky in a quite a few things.

Obviously not everybody around me has that stuff though, and they still seemingly have it better. Everybody complains about the buses but they are actually really good. I'm not saying it's easy to get everywhere or particularly safe but the buses are there. Actually they started a new thing in my city where after a certain time you can ask the bus driver to let you off at a certain spot along the route that's safer for you. I've had to add 30 minutes to my trips because I didn't feel safe at the stop I should have got off at and I've also had to walk 30 minutes to the main bus since one bus didn't run early enough but all in all it's pretty good.

I don't know much about our social programs in comparison but I know they are pretty good. I also know we have things that don't exist in the states like the child care benefit. For people who live in rural communities that aren't near major cities it kind of sucks because they don't have as many opportunities to get ahead. As far as thing like rent and utilities go that varies a lot depending on which province you are in which I imagine is similar to the states. Even then though you can generally live in a crappy neighborhood without actually worrying that much about violence. I mean I lived in those neighborhoods, and sure one of my friends got stabbed but it's not like that's the norm. On a long enough timeline somebody is going to get stabbed everywhere. So we technically have "bad" neighborhoods but I wouldn't compare them to ones in the states. Other than first nations reserves that is, and that is a whole complex problem.

user-inactivated  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Holy shit, yeah, Everest is one of those for profit colleges. It's absolutely insane to think that these places actually exist.

A lot of my old friends are in the military. They either never went to college and ended up joining the military almost right away, or they went to college, dropped the idea for one reason or another, and joined the military as a backup. For a lot of people, there's a lot of appeal to becoming a serviceman. Garunteed pay, decent benefits while you're active and after (kind of, the VA is actually pretty fucked up), a promotional structure, on the job training, etc. The only downside is, a few of them have decided that career military is not the way for them to go, so when their time of service is up, they don't re-up. Now they're almost back where they started, because despite what military recruiters tell you, on the job military training doesn't always translate to marketable skills in the civilian world.

As for poor neighborhoods, while the actual risk of being a victim of a crime is statistically higher, sometimes people blow it a little out of proportion. However, whether or not you actually ever get stabbed or mugged or burgled is a bit of a moot point. The environment alone can be draining. When you're not home, you're worried about your possessions at home and whether or not they're safe. When the neighbors down the way are being loud as fuck for a place that already has thin walls, up until 3 o'clock in the morning, the loss of sleep has a very real impact on your mood and ability to be productive. When the pipes in your apartment building freeze and burst and your landlord takes a week to fix them because he doesn't give a fuck about the law, there goes your ability to shower and make yourself coffee. On and on it goes. Not only that, but I sometimes think that the actual worry of being harmed is more damaging than actually being harmed. It can be really difficult.

    I mean I got lucky in a lot of ways.

We've both been very lucky and I think the majority of the people on Hubski feel the exact same way. In comparison to what's going on in a lot of the world, we have it pretty alright. You gotta give yourself credit though, cause luck is only the half of it. You're also smart and it sounds like you're hard working as well. You've made some good, well thought out decisions to get you where you are in life right now and if you keep making good decisions, you'll probably turn out a little "luckier" every year. You got a lot to be proud of. :)

oyster  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

They really are the worst, they prey on people and make them think that going to their crappy school will result in actually getting something. The thing is to in my city we have a really good college that offers the same programs but obviously better which makes it even harder to find something after the fact. Like not only does your diploma pretty much suck but you have to compete against people who went to the good college for jobs. It's just not going to happen.

Something interesting I found yesterday was 54% of borrowers said that if they could do it over they may have made different college choices. It would be interesting to find out how many of those students went to these for profit colleges.

user-inactivated  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Shit. 54% actually sounds really low. Hopefully a lot of college age kids will be able to learn from the rough experiences of the past decade or so.

oyster  ·  950 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It seemed low when I look at my friend but really there was a bunch of people who did pretty good. I just don't talk to those people. A couple of my friends have more or less accepted it and made peace with things too. My friend and I actually had a conversation the other day in which she was saying that although she knows she could have been in less debt she doesn't regret it. So I don't think people like her would say they would do things over even though it didn't pay off in an obvious way. Like I moved across the country and after the first night woke up with bugs crawling on me. Most people would regret that, and at first I did but in the end I wouldn't actually change anything. They even came back just before moving to fuck with me but I still wouldn't have changed things.

I'm hoping, I mean the conversation has really shifted in the past years. Going to community college and then university is seen as a good option more as well and people are just starting to look at it differently in my experience. It's helpful to talk about how insane the cost is overall but that just doesn't help the people who want to go to school now and get on with their lives. It helps the next generation which is awesome but this one needs solutions too.

kleinbl00  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You're expending a lot of effort to see this as anything but a cost of living problem. You've walked back from calling the poor stupid or lazy, but you still seem to believe that if only those poor benighted souls could get some book learnin' about budgets and whatnot all their problems would be solved.

This link is for you.

oyster  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You honestly think everybody just knows how to handle personal finance ? I very clearly pointed out that America seems to have ALOT ( I even wrote it all big and stuff ) of problems to work on which I wasn't fully aware of. Many Americans love trying to point out that their health insurance isn't actually a lot of money and it's waaay better than the system we have in Canada. So even though we are told about these programs to help the poor pay for healthcare in America apparently that was mainly BS. I very clearly explained that these are problems which are apparently much bigger than people like to admit (although I think that's just how they respond when Canadians get smug and they want to say no no it's not that bad). The thing is as much as I can see a cost of living problem I can't really ignore the people who have no idea wtf to do seeing as they are my peers. If they weren't I probably wouldn't see the problem but holy shit it's a problem.

ButterflyEffect  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Many Americans love trying to point out that their health insurance isn't actually a lot of money and it's waaay better than the system we have in Canada.

Who are these people? Most of the people I know admit that healthcare is jacked up around here, and they're paying a lot without getting a lot back because of Big Pharma, government subsidies, etc., and sure don't comment on (dis)advantages compared to the Canadian system when most of us are just trying to figure out how the hell our own healthcare system (doesn't) work...

oyster  ·  951 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I sometimes get the impression it's a response to outsiders when they criticize the system. Like how people will critize their own family but when somebody else says something all of a sudden their family is amazing. I've had people talk about how terrible waiting times are here and how their monthly payment isn't that much. Or the common bit about how we pay all our money in taxes. How there is programs that help the poor so it's not actually that bad.

Personally, I always think our system is better since I know my family wouldn't have a roof over our heads without it but just how bad the American system is has been downplayed a decent amount over the years.