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View Diary: Just spent 45 minutes with student debt loan collector UPDATED WITH DOCUMENTS (232 comments)

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  •  Yep (49+ / 0-)

    I was in the first generation of folks that got to taste privatized student loans.  Not when I borrowed them mind you, but when I "consolidated" them.

    You have a "choice" - 8 payments per month totaling over $1,000, or one for $200 or so.  What would you do?  My 2% loans mushroomed to 8%, with crazy terms and penalties....

    And now it's my fault for "agreeing" to those terms. Might as well have thrown in my first born.... would have agreed to that too.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:38:54 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Wow. I guess the warning is... (6+ / 0-)

      Always read the fine print. Thank goodness we now have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the requirement that all loan terms have to be spelled out prominently and clearly in plain English. It's really a pity we didn't have it at a time when it could have helped you and thousands of others like you.

      "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

      by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:36:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This kind of crap (11+ / 0-)

        doesn't seem to have existed, even in the fine print, when the diarist first signed on. Otherwise, it would have told her that her principal could balloon into 4.5 times what she originally borrowed.

        And who would sign off on that? You? Me? Doubtful.

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:44:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (16+ / 0-)

          And the BIG difference between student loans and other loans is that by the time your done you can have over a dozen mini "loans" that you have to keep track of, so of course you consolidate.  And while those initial loans were only 2% or 3%, the private consolidators add all kinds of terms and conditions that are more similar to consumer loans.

          That's where the trouble is.  Offer one loan for your entire education, up front, with easy terms.

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:24:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is a failure of the Left. (5+ / 0-)
            And while those initial loans were only 2% or 3%, the private consolidators add all kinds of terms and conditions that are more similar to consumer loans.
            If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.  Competition WILL destroy bad actors in this case.

            It would be better to reduce or eliminate tuition entirely, but nobody's doing that either.

            -7.75 -4.67

            "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

            There are no Christians in foxholes.

            by Odysseus on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:34:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  It may interest you to know that consumer debt (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shockwave, tobendaro, Farugia, La Gitane

            held by the federal government has increased from about $135 billion in 2008 to about $724 billion this past November.  It is the only category of debt which has increased significantly, largely because of taking over the higher education loan portfolios.

            http://www.federalreserve.gov/...

            Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

            by hannah on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:21:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's what they gave the banksters back in 2008. (5+ / 0-)

              Seems like something should be done to revoke these ridiculous terms and return debtors to original interest rates and lower balances.

              SOMETHING needs to be done so people are no longer slaves to the collection agencies, and can get on with their lives.

              •  The banksters do not consider it a gift. (0+ / 0-)

                As long as they had the loans on their books, they were considered assets and as they piled on penalties and fees, they recorded increasing asset value. Being bought out did not make the bankersters happy. Quite the opposite. There is a program to re-negotiate the debts. That's why the diarist was told she could contest the amount.
                Our whole system of laws is based on individual complaints and demands. The agents of government are not supposed to do anything unless prompted by a complaint. In a sense, that's even what Barack Obama and Joe Biden are referring to when they say "you must make me do it." That the people have the power means that individual initiative is required to set the wheels of society in motion.
                "Let George do it," is a sort of wishful thinking on the part of lazy people. Dubya was glad to be "let" to do stuff 'cause he had no interest in doing anything but flap his lips.
                On the other hand, that complaints are the basis for action also goes to explain how come some of our agents of government, especially those who lust for power, go to great lengths to render the citizenry compliant, before they have a chance to register a complaint. Cops, in particular, are intent on gaining compliance so citizens won't lodge complaints.

                Wasn't that the objective of the messengers to Dawn Zimmer -- to render her compliant before she could complain about her community's deprivation?
                Republicans are convinced that authority is entitled to coerce compliance with its directives. And threats are, of course, cheaper than bribes.

                Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

                by hannah on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 02:47:57 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  The Rule of 72 is real damned easy to learn. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Involuntary Exile, Donkey Hotey, NYFM

          That most people don't is a source of vast dysfunction.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:31:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Who reads the fine print? (5+ / 0-)

          Did you read every last page of your mortgage agreement or just the pages they told you to sign? Most people don't even read those. That's why there is now a requirement for a truth in lending statement in plain English that spells out the major financial provisions as well as a HUD statement with all your costs.

          When my husband's sister and niece signed their student loan agreements they didn't read any of the documents, just the cover page that told them what their initial interest rate and monthly payments would be. They'll be collecting Social Security before those loans are paid off. And somehow I don't think they're that different from most other people who took out student loans.

          "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

          by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:46:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I did (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            La Gitane

            I read all contracts. But I recognize that it's unusual to do so. And, of course, most people couldn't understand the legalese if you paid them.

            In one case, reading a purchase & sale agreement, it took so long that I pissed off the realtor ... until I found a clause in their boilerplate, which had been there for YEARS, that would have allowed any of their potential buyers to back out of any purchase, instantly, at any point in the purchase process, scot-free.

            Then she liked me.

            I've also found a clause in a standard Microsoft software agreement that would automatically assign your company's intellectual property to MS if any of your engineers made the mistake of mentioning to one of their employees anything your company was working on (and no, they wouldn't need to mention a single detail, just a project name or general concept would be sufficient). Our CEO called their CEO (they knew each other) to arrange a conference call with their lawyers and we had them change it.

        •  I believe the privatization law passed around 2006 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          La Gitane

          If the diarist went to school prior to that, and took out loans via the government, then consolidated the loans after that (but before the Obama admin reverted to government-only loans), then she would definitely have been in the right cohort to not have any warning - or reason to suspect - the usury allowed by privatization.

          •  Thanks radical (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity

            that's exactly what happened.  I took out government loans, before private loans were available, from 1992-1995.  Where I got screwed was through the private consolidators who have ZERO regulation.

            Not only that, but they were trading student loans as derivatives just like the mortgages.  I got at least three or four notices over the years that the holder of my loan was no longer XX and was now YY....

            FUBAR

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:01:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Which would mean the warning is really (7+ / 0-)

        "Don't pursue higher education." Because many of us have no choice with these things. It didn't matter what I read, it would always be the same terms.

        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

        by AoT on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:06:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem seems to be the consolidation, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mattc129, mumtaznepal, JerryNA

          not the original loans. So, in fact, making the terms clear, up front, and in plain English does matter. If you knew that you were giving up your 3% loan for an 8% loan for nothing other than the convenience of writing fewer monthly checks, would you agree to that? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't. I wouldn't. At least the CFPB makes lenders state all the important terms up front. If we have all the facts we can make an informed choice.

          "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

          by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:31:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  At two of my universities, they changed loan (10+ / 0-)

            providers every year—market competition, don't you know. And each lender had a maximum, so to cover expenses, they offered you two sets of loans per semester.

            After just two years of grad work, that amounts to four separate loans, each with a minimum payment in the hundreds.

            Anyone that did this for four years of undergrad, or for longer as undergrad+grad, may have 8 or 10 separate loans, each with a minimum payment.

            So then you're all graduated and you find that on a loan total the size of a car you're on the hook for $many hundreds or even $thousands of dollars per month.

            How are you going to pay? And have a life (and food) at the same time?

            So the consolidators come along and offer to cut your monthly payments precipitously, to a fraction of what they were.

            It's the only choice you've got.

            People say "well, you didn't have to accept the terms of all of those loans," but what are you going to do? Drop out of school after the first year when they spring the lender changes on you? Once you've already taken on an initial slate of loans and will owe them regardless? Only if you drop out because you "refuse to sign," you won't have a degree. You'll have the costs without the benefit to your gross income.

            It's all a scam. I work in higher education but I routinely tell people to think long and hard about going to college, particularly if they're disadvantaged. It's a rich person's game.

            Mostly what college does to the poor is absolutely fleece them, then take everything they own, then leave them destitute.

            Nine times out of ten, it's not a good deal.

            There's so much discourse on the income differences between non-college grads and college grads. But these don't provide any benefit if the obligations that result increase faster than the income does—and that part of the story is rarely told.

            -9.63, 0.00
            "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

            by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:56:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You are pointing to a much bigger problem (5+ / 0-)

              than what seems to be the initial topic of this diary. My comments on the positive good the CFPB is doing in the realm of student loans was in response to what I understood to be a problem of deception by loan consolidators, sucking people in with teaser rates but not making clear those rates and associated monthly payments were going to skyrocket. I agree that there us a much larger problem with ever increasing tuition rates, putting a debt free education out of reach of all but the wealthy. It's unconscionable.

              "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

              by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:18:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Nobody, you are right. I want every American (4+ / 0-)

              to have access to the career they want, and if they need college for that, so be it.

              But I would have a damn hard time recommending anybody go into medicine at this point, unless they were independently wealthy.

              "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

              by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:48:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Not how consolidation works (3+ / 0-)

            When you consolidate all the loans are consolidated at the rate of the highest rate loan you have.

        •  EXACTLY. This is the biggest pile of BS in (19+ / 0-)

          our educational culture.

          Before you go to college, if you're from a disadvantaged family, they tell you "You have to go to college if you want half a chance of avoiding the same poverty your parents lived with."

          Well, they don't have the money to fund you. But you can take out a loan. But you're not exactly flush. You have the limited set of loan options the college gives you, and they all have the same terms. It's as tough to "shop around" for colleges as it is for loans if you're underprivileged.

          So you sign the paperwork because, as they all say, you gotta go to college if you can—and you have no other opportunities of note to cling to.

          So you sign and go. You get your degree (maybe even a double major with honors and a great GPA). You get out to the job market. You find that the college degree doesn't open many more doors.

          "For that," they say, "you'll need a masters degree. That's where the careers really kick in." And your student loans are now coming due. And you have no way to pay them. So you take the advice—and go to grad school—where you'll (presumably) open up career doors and get to defer those loans.

          Only you have no money. So you've got to take out more loans. And once again, there's not much in the way of "shopping terms" available to you. The terms are all basically the same. Want to go? You've got to sign. And you'd better go, because your bachelors degree didn't get you a job and your loans are coming due.

          So you sign and go. You get your degree (maybe even with a perfect GPA and honors again) and now you get out there and hit the job market. Sure, there are more opportunities than before—now you can at least get hired—but you're starting entry-level. The salary isn't enough to cover the loan payments and pay your bills at the same time. What choices do you have?

          1) Consolidate
          2) Go back to grad school and get a Ph.D. (and get to defer your loans in the process)

          Choose 1 — and you don't get to shop around. Once again, it's not as if you can "choose terms you like" because anything actually on offer is substantively the same. It's either sign (and be able to make your monthly payment right now) or don't (and either have to starve/go broke/destroy your credit rating, or go get a Ph.D. so that you can defer some more).

          Choose 2 — and it's wash, rinse, repeat. More loans on top of the loans that you already have. Maybe your stipend pays for most things, but it sure as hell doesn't cover everything that you practically need to do the full time job of getting a Ph.D. while paying your bills on the side.

          And if you Choose 2, when you finish the Ph.D. you're right back where you started—now you've got three piles of loans, all from an assortment of lenders, with monthly payments that add up to a huge pile. Yet you're fresh out of school (even if it's Ph.D. level) in a very narrow job market (demand for Ph.D. level people is very low) and set to earn what sounds like a lot, if you can get a job—but only until you look at all of those loan payments, at which point you realize you're no farther ahead than you were after undergrad.

          And once again, you get to choose between "sign" and "don't sign" for consolidation. There's no more school to do, no more deferments to be had.

          And wherever you stop (before bachelors, after bachelors, after masters, after phd, after any instance of consolidation), a bunch of idiot Americans will blame you for having "made those choices" or "agreed to those terms," as though you had a whole host of other choices or your pick of the terms out there on the open market.

          A more honest answer from all of society would be:

          "You were born poor. Sorry. There's no way to get ahead. You will always be poor no matter what you do. But you do have one choice: stay poor and do nothing, or work hard for decades at education, do something, but be every bit as poor (that part won't change) and infinitely more stressed out."

          That's really the "choice" available to anyone not born into the upper middle class, and to anyone born poor in particular. Between:

          - Low-stress life of idle poverty
          - High-strees, busy life of poverty but with "accomplishments"

          The problem is that this choice is never presented clearly, in these terms. All of the discourse is about economic outcomes—and implies that they have something to do with education and choices.

          They don't.

          Born poor, stay poor. That's it. Period.

          It would be more honest and less wantonly fraudulent of us as a society if we just told this to people up front before we ask them to "sign," rather than promising rewards as a result of the signature.

          The signature doesn't bring financial rewards; it brings financial ruin. In our educational system, you're paying with your ultimate financial ruin for the chance to do something more than be the "idle" poor.

          That's all.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:48:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mattc129, chimene, Farugia, MGross, erush1345
            So you sign and go. You get your degree (maybe even a double major with honors and a great GPA). You get out to the job market. You find that the college degree doesn't open many more doors.
            The major area is critically important. You do see unemployed mechanical/electrical/chemistry people, but not many of them.

            Taking out large student loans for a liberal arts degree is a bad idea. People will tell you that you can "think outside the box" and "be well rounded" and similar horseshit but they are probably wrong and while there are exceptions betting your professional life that you'll be one of them is not what you want to be doing. "Marketable skills" is the name of the game in our world of experts and specialists.

            Rule of thumb: major in whatever everyone else thinks is too difficult.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:20:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agreed. Hard to talk about without accusations of (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, chimene, erush1345

              being blunt and harsh, but major choice matters. I'm a front-end developer, and with today's tech boom I get at least one cold-email from a recruiter trying to hire me away. I ignore all of them because I love my job and believe in the company's growth. But the fact is if I needed to find a job I probably could within 2 weeks. I attribute that to 1) having an in-demand job, 2) knowing at least 5 industry people to reach out to, and 3) living in NYC.

              Also, another blunt reality is college choice does matter. I know that the price of college is ridiculous, but paying $55–60,000 for NYU or Boston University (where I went) is lightyears better than paying the same to go to Marist or Lehigh. Sorry, it just is. Anyone who pays that much to go to these small-ish Mid-Atlantic schools is setting themselves up for a lifetime of debt. They attract wealthy NJ/NY/CT/MA high schoolers who couldn't get into better schools.

              •  Really (8+ / 0-)

                This kind of comment irritates me to no end.

                You think that you can find another job within 2 weeks? How old are you? I think that I am hearing the arrogance of youth. Not to say that I wasn't there myself once.

                 I am a developer who got laid off, spent several months looking for a job before I gave up and started my own software company. If you don't think that there are 200+ people out there applying for every single developer job, you are kidding yourself.  

                It's easier for younger, cheaper, less experienced (especially if you are a foreign worker) people to get work than it is for older, more experienced and expensive people to get work.

                When I first started working, you got hired by a company for your programming skills. They then sent you out for training in whatever languages or technology they needed you to know. Now, people need to keep up with all of the latest technologies. Older developers, who worked at the same company for years and years frequently did not do that because we were led to expect a different reality than the one that presents itself to us today.

                "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                by resa on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:46:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm 27, so I understand right now I am immune (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sparhawk, chimene, erush1345

                  to age discrimination. That's an unfair privilege to have, and I acknowledge that.

                  But regarding keeping up with engineering best practices, I think the onus is on the employee. For example, a relatively new practice in front-end development is called responsive web design. That's a technique where a website's content adapts to device size and type, all using a single code base. Two years ago, I didn't have the skills to do responsive work, so I taught myself. Without that new knowledge, I'd be at a considerable disadvantage, if not unemployable in my field.

                  Yes, there are developer jobs that try and find someone who doesn't exist: the pixel-perfect front-end developer who also knows the ins and outs of MySQL and other database work. That person is so rare and probably isn't as good as a specialist in each field.

                  I agree there are uncontrollable circumstances for software engineers, especially age discrimination. But when it comes to personal skill set, that's up to the individual to maintain and refine. It's exhausting but necessary.

                  •  Employers used to send employees for training (0+ / 0-)

                    To help them keep their skills up to date (on company time, with company money).

                    When companies were run for the long-term, investing in employees to ensure that their skills were top-notch, and to grow their loyalty was important.

                    It's a shame you are entering the market when you no longer have any value to the an employer, and where the only way to remain employable is to sacrifice personal time and money (though there are lots of great online resources for some of the skills you need) to gain the necessary skills.

                    •  Too bad I didn't see this (0+ / 0-)

                      in time to rec it. Exactly so.

                      Then again, I have kept up with technology. It's extremely difficult in this day and age. You have to choose which technology to keep up with and hope that it's the one that wins in the end.

                      "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                      by resa on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:27:47 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Once again, arrogance. (0+ / 0-)

                    It's extremely difficult in this day and age. You have to choose which technology to keep up with and hope that it's the one that holds out long enough for you to have 5 years of experience for your next job.

                    I happen to do responsive web design now. I have my own business.

                    It's oh so easy to criticize others when you haven't been there yet. Stop it.

                    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                    by resa on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:29:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  And I have a math LD (3+ / 0-)

                Majored in English and philosophy because that's where my abilities are.  Worked at useful endeavors for a lot of years before retiring -- with student loan debt.

                Believe it or not, we can't and shouldn't all be technicians.

                But you damn well can't have a functioning democracy without people who understand literature, history, political theory, and that the world is more than a system of systems within systems.

                Sorry to be rude, but one tires of hearing how stupid one is for not being an engineer/tech savant/brain scientist.

                Some of us just aren't wired that lucky.

                •  We need educated people PERIOD (0+ / 0-)

                  or, like someone said up above, we'll all be flipping burgers for the pizza makers and vice versa.

                  For a country to be strong, we need educated people - not just trained people.  They are sometimes two very different things.

                  It is sad that the importance of studying, researching and sharing knowledge of math, english, history, art, civics and other disciplines has to be defended and explained.

                  BTW - I have an architecture degree.  I am a licensed professional, and believe me, it is no easy profession to maintain.  Licensure, continuing ed, insurance, etc...  And we DO NOT make a lot of money.  Some do - but it's kinda like music or acting.  You have your super stars, you have your folks that manage to get by (me) and then you have your starving artists.  The crash decimated my profession.  In 2009, architecture unemployment in San Diego was over 60% - not including self-employed people like me who were out of work.  Dozens of mid size firms were lost.  So, no lectures on "what is the right kind of degree"....  The right kind is what you're good at; fine, you realize that you'll make less money as a poet than as a software engineer.  But with a degree you should at LEAST be able to live comfortably middle class...

                  "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                  by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:12:19 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Re (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    La Gitane, nextstep
                    The right kind is what you're good at; fine, you realize that you'll make less money as a poet than as a software engineer.  But with a degree you should at LEAST be able to live comfortably middle class...
                    "Should be".

                    Your degree and work experience is worth precisely whatever someone else is willing to pay you. That's simply the harsh reality here. The above statement will be very cold comfort when you are unemployed or working a job you hate with your poetry degree.

                    It is sad that the importance of studying, researching and sharing knowledge of math, english, history, art, civics and other disciplines has to be defended and explained.
                    The fact that we need these things is not in doubt. However, they can be taught in parallel with vocational training instead of as a replacement for it.

                    Additionally, I don't think we should have zero liberal arts majors, just that there are currently far too many of them. The market tends to agree with me.

                    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                    by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:55:01 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I won't disagree (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk

                      Maybe poet was a bit too extreme... But there are plenty of non-LA degrees which reasonable people would think could garner a decent living that don't.

                      Part of it is the shitty state of the economy, and there are plenty of diaries on that, but a big part too is having to start out your life mired in stifling debt. It's like a race - you're favored to place in the top ten, but you have a ball and chain around your ankle when the gun goes off.

                      But in general I do agree with you, Sparhawk. Thanks for your comments!

                      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                      by La Gitane on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 07:28:04 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah - they say that now (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radical simplicity

              But 10 years ago, they were saying the opposite. Without a college degree, you get nowhere.

              "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

              by resa on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:38:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Obviously (4+ / 0-)

              not everyone can become an engineer. Not everyone has the abilities required, not everyone likes it, and more importantly, if everyone majored in the same few fields there would be a huge glut of people looking for jobs. Like there is now for recent law school grads, many of whom will never find work as lawyers.

              I don't know what the answer is for people who are not mathematically or technically inclined, but it certainly isn't telling them to all become engineers.

              And predictions about where the jobs are going to be ten years out are very often wrong. Lots and lots of people prepared for jobs that were supposed to be plentiful only to find out that they weren't.

              •  This is what happened in IT. (6+ / 0-)

                Everyone was told not so very long ago that IT was the hottest field going, endlessly employable.

                A decade later, we hat a glut of bog-standard associates-and-bachelors-level IT people that couldn't get jobs that paid well or couldn't get jobs at all because of the labor surplus.

                People routinely mistake the choices they've made for objectively correct choices just because those choices happened to pay off.

                Others know that history isn't so kind as to give us a set of choices that have "objectively right" and "objectively wrong" answers at the time.

                -9.63, 0.00
                "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

                by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:17:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Nothing is certain (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mattc129, erush1345

                  However, that's not a reason to take a major that's known today to be economically low-value.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 04:48:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Two of the best paid people I know (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    La Gitane

                    Were philosophy majors. Some of the people I know who have had the least luck finding jobs are engineers. Your confirmation bias is showing.

                    •  "Two of" "Some of" (0+ / 0-)

                      Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal.

                      There will always be outliers as I specifically noted in my post.

                      Doesn't mean that a person just starting out should bet on being one.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:19:44 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  You're basically arguing for a market timing (0+ / 0-)

                    strategy with education as the asset.

                    This is a documentably a less productive strategy for investors working in small asset quantities/values (in this case a single education, a couple of degrees).

                    Buy high, sell low. Some will profit, many others will be left high and dry. Don't assume that because you're lucky enough to be in the former camp, nobody will be in the latter.

                    There was always a need for tailors—until there wasn't. The labor market changes, more than people like to admit. Survey the 20th century (say, 1900-2000) and look at the vast changes in demand for labor of all types.

                    -9.63, 0.00
                    "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

                    by nobody at all on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 07:18:03 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  You paint with too broad a brush (4+ / 0-)

              I've come across so many folks in my time with bull*** degrees, highly specialized "career" degrees where the person was so narrowly focused it hindered their critical thinking skills required for their job.  OTOH smart folks from good schools excel in financial management/analyst positions regardless of the major. Seriously.

              Skills? If I had a dime for everyone certified out to the ying-yang that were worthless on the job.

              And sadly there are a ton of very difficult degrees that do not guarantee a stable career path.  We've devastated funding for scientific research, so much for pushing folks to major in STEM.  

              Heck I remember being a young pup majoring in Geology in the mid 80s as the price of oil plummeted along with any good career prospects for geologists as the oil companies shut down their exploration divisions.  Whoops had to change gears in college, fortunately for me the timing of it was such that I was only a sophomore.  Would have been really bad if I was a senior.

          •  True story with only one answer: LBJ (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            La Gitane

            for the USA!

            Once upon a time, with a teacher in the White House, things were different.

            I'm from Johnson City.

            by Al Fondy on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:37:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not all teachers in the White House were (0+ / 0-)

              that helpful.  I have in mind a certain second grade teacher who then became a librarian.

              We must drive the special interests out of politics.… There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will neither be a short not an easy task, but it can be done. -- Teddy Roosevelt

              by NoMoJoe on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 05:08:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  You don't even have to be poor (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Farugia, La Gitane

            Just un-wealthy. If your family can afford to dish out 50k per year for you to go to school debt-free, then you're probably well above middle-class.

    •  Almost like you're forced to consolidate (9+ / 0-)

      since the separate loan payments added up to so much. Plus the work involved of keeping track of it all. One loan paid a single cent under causes a massive freakout on their part. Meh.

      When I left college in 2009, we all had to go through loan exit counseling where they explicitly told us not to consolidate because you lose the new graduate grace period, among other things. Also, I only had to make 2 payments, and both were federal loans. No experience with private loans, but it doesn't surprise me that they'd structure it in a confusing and unapproachable way.

      •  bingo. Thank you for understanding (8+ / 0-)

        Consolidation is not only to lower your payments - it's also to make them more manageable.

        That's why I don't agree with the comparisons with car loans or mortgages, or even credit cards.  It's one loan, one term, one bill.

        When your choice is either to consolidate or default, you really don't have a choice.  It's a gun to your head, a captive market for Wall Street, and they knew it.

        And they certainly didn't mind setting me up with deferments and forebearances....  it gave them the opportunity to make even more money.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:07:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for writing this diary. (12+ / 0-)

          It's painful to admit to others that the system has gotten the better of us, at least for the time being.  But when people like you write about your experiences, untold numbers of others say, "Wow!  They got screwed just like me.  I'm not alone."

          I don't think you need to apologize or to keep insisting you want to pay these loans back.  You weren't borrowing this money to buy a Lexus or go snowboarding at Vail.  You were doing what society told you was necessary both for your good and society's benefit.

          That's really the point.  You should never have had to borrow so much to get an education.  That is a social responsibility to educate its people.

          What is really required are not little reforms here and there, but a debtors' strike.  That means that those who can't pay respond to these bloodsuckers with a hearty "Fuck you."  It means that those debtors who are struggling to pay--ruining their health and their family's emotional welfare by working multiple jobs, defering medical care, etc.--need to say "Fuck you.  I'm not your debt slave anymore."  It means that those affluent enough to make their payments without hardship need to stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers and say "Fuck you" to the bloodsuckers.

          The debt strike should continue until a Jubilee is declared on all students loans combined with a commitment to publicly funded education as is the case in more civilized countries.

          •  Thank you!!!!! (11+ / 0-)

            That is exactly my plan.  My credit is completely fucked anyways, and like I said, I own nothing.

            I'm self employed, so there are no tax returns or wages to garnish.

            My car is mine, but it's 10 years old.

            So I have no problem saying fuck you, you get nothing, until you can play nice.  I didn't borrow money from the Sopranos.

            I figure that by the time my balance hits half a million (which at this rate, should be some time in the next two years), I can go before a judge and let them decide.

            Borrow $27,000, pay back $12,000, but I owe $500K???  Really??  We'll see....

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:51:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You have no idea (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            La Gitane

            how many former students I talk to regularly, who tell me they've been thinking along these lines.

            What is really required are not little reforms here and there, but a debtors' strike.  That means that those who can't pay respond to these bloodsuckers with a hearty "Fuck you."  It means that those debtors who are struggling to pay--ruining their health and their family's emotional welfare by working multiple jobs, defering medical care, etc.--need to say "Fuck you.  I'm not your debt slave anymore."  It means that those affluent enough to make their payments without hardship need to stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers and say "Fuck you" to the bloodsucker

            This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

            by lunachickie on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:49:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not only this, but the rate of loan selloffs (8+ / 0-)

        is astronomical.

        I have ex-students that finished undergrad with loans from four different vendors, all while at the same school.

        And after that, they've gone through twice as many again as loans are sold and re-sold and re-sold. I had one that I'm still in contact with for professional reasons come to ask me jokingly who was holding his loan; in the same month he had received balances due from three different vendors for the same loan balance

        The paperwork inside the lenders wasn't keeping up with the sell-offs; two of them didn't even realize they had sold the loan yet—the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing.

        Try keeping up with that, times four, or times six for the multiple lenders that you can end up with after college.

        The whole system is designed to drive people into bankruptcy and take their stuff. Nothing more, nothing less.

        -9.63, 0.00
        "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

        by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:59:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The above scenario has definitely complicated (5+ / 0-)

          by loan balances, and it ups them as each company added their own interest, etc - and there is NO easy way to keep on top of it.  

          I have every confidence that at least $15,000 of my loans is pure bullshit screwup.  But I have zero way to prove it, in spite of having every single bit of loan paperwork every given or sent to me.

          It's just ... unbelievable.

          Would I become a veterinarian again in the face of destroying my future financial stability?  Probably not.  

          Oh, btw, my "you have a great profession, you can work for yourself or someone else, you'll ALWAYS be employed" safety thoughts about my choice of career now sees the suffering of the past 6 years of graduates, where there is a massive overage of veterinarians now (don't graduate during a recession when people don't give their pets vet care as they can't afford it)  ... many, many are on unemployment, or have quit the profession to pay the bills.  But their professional school student loans remain.

          "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

          by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:58:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Same with architects (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mumtaznepal

            I figured hey, as a professional, I'll make good money, be relatively secure, have health insurance, a nice car....

            ha. ha.

            At least I have health insurance now ;)

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:17:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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