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By Summer Boggs, Student Supporter of Young Invincibles' Campaign for For-Profit College Accountability

I feel trapped. I feel hopeless. And I feel angry that I was so misled.

I have $170,000 in student loan debt from what’s known as a for-profit college. Schools like mine bill themselves as “career” colleges. But after borrowing mind-numbing sums to attend Florida Coastal School of Law, I’m drowning in debt, and working at a non-profit making $30,000 a year.  Not a lawyer’s salary, barely enough to make ends meet, and nothing extra to keep up with my massive monthly payments.

I bet on the American Dream:  invest in your own education and work hard, and you can rise. Now’s it’s a nightmare--one that’s drained my will to live a few times in ways I’d rather not even describe.

My school did a heck of a sales pitch, with great-looking promotional materials, and really persistent recruiters who called around-the-clock. I was led to believe that I’d land a high-demand career in the legal field, earning a six-figure salary in just a few years.

At first, I was relieved that the school wouldn’t let me to have a job as a student.  Focusing on my studies would be a lot easier, I thought.  But that meant I had to keep piling on the financial aid -- not just for tuition, but for books and basic living expenses.  

It turns out that nearly half of all borrowers who defaulted on their debt attended a for-profit college. That’s a devastating rate, particularly when you consider that one in ten higher education students attend a for-profit school.

Florida Coastal grades on a bell curve quota.  No matter how much we demonstrated knowledge, a specific number of us had to earn Cs, Ds, and Fs.  That cycle of failure, deserved or not, meant we had to retake classes.  More classes required more loans.  

I stopped rolling the dice about 30 credits shy of a degree, because $150,000 in debt was the stomach-churning outer limit of what I was willing to gamble.

I apparently didn’t know enough after my six semesters of law school to get a job that would enable me to pay back my student loans. But I do now know this:  for-profit schools’ primary source of income is typically federal student financial aid.  

I have to squint my eyes a little to make it out.  But I’m sure of it now.  It’s an asterisk on my school’s Web site, where, really, a number should be.

The number would represent the percentage of my fellow alumni from Florida Coastal School of Law who got jobs after graduating.  But on the Web site, the answer to the question “what are my chances of getting a job when I graduate?” is just an asterisk that refers to tiny fine print:  “This institution is not currently required to calculate a job placement rate for program completers.”

If your degree or training is so sub-par that you can’t even get hired into the field you studied, well, odds are you won’t be able to pay that loan back.

Someone should fix this.  Right now, the U.S. Department of Education is inviting public comment as it revises rules for for-profit schools and certain other career programs.  Until May 27th, people like me can tell our stories and maybe convince the Obama administration to require the asterisks on the Web site get filled in with much more impressive outcomes.  

But we’re not the only ones able to comment.  Some of the fattest cat lobbyists in Washington work for the for-profit college industry, and their campaign contributions, ad campaigns, and artfully spun testimony are what we’re up against. Right now, the lobbyists are encouraging comments from people who apparently believe we’re picking on for-profit colleges.  Poor things.

I’m not a lawyer. But I do know how to make a case.  I’m working with a group called Young Invincibles that is helping me share my story far and wide. They represent young adults in the public debate.  And to make sure Washington hears us on the rules for so-called “gainful employment” — since that’s what you should be able to get after hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt – I urge you to share your concern, too. Like me, you can add your comment here – http://www.regulations.gov/-- by May 27.

Let’s help the Administration hear our voices above those of the corporate colleges — and understand that a good deal for us is a good deal for American taxpayers.

Originally posted to Young Invincibles on Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Youth Kos 2.0.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Welcome to Daily Kos (18+ / 0-)

    Good first diary.  

    Personally, I believe all state colleges and universities should be free tuition to in-state students.  That is competition that would force for-profit schools to offer better training at cheaper prices and drive out these sham colleges.

    I recommend engaging in comments so you will gain traction.  If you post and run, people won't read future diaries even if they generally agree with your sentiments.  

    We are all in this together.

    by htowngenie on Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:56:36 AM PDT

    •  I hope she will follow your advice to participate. (5+ / 0-)
    •  Agreed with htowngenie. (4+ / 0-)

      Welcome to Daily Kos, and thank you for an excellent first diary.

      You may benefit from some of the links in the orange box, Young Invincibles, as may other newcomers or lurkers here.

      Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

      The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What's your excuse?
      ~~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

      by smileycreek on Wed May 14, 2014 at 11:48:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I believe in free tuition for students with a 3.0 (5+ / 0-)

      or higher high school GPA if they attend state schools.  

      We need to allow all students to refinance their loans with federal loans at 3% interest maximum.  This was the interest rate on my loan before Reagan trickle down was invented.  

      Interest should not be charged while the student is still in school, unemployed, or working at a job that leaves them below the poverty level.  Interest could be indexed for people with incomes just above the poverty level.  

      Medical bankruptcies should be allowed.  Parents or other cosigners should not have to pay back loans if the student dies.    

      •  I'd go maybe just a bit higher on the GPA... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        htowngenie, allie4fairness

        for free tuition. Or maybe some combination with an SAT score. It's unfortunate that the quality of graduates from high schools is so terribly heterogeneous. Kids with low C averages from some high performing high schools do far better than kids with low A averages from low performing high schools. High school grade inflation is far worse than college grade inflation (which is still extremely problematic). In lots of places, a 3.0 is now average. Grade and curve scales keep getting revised downwards. It's a mess.

        I really don't know what to say about interest and loan pay-back requirements. They are pretty much free money as it is now in that there are no collateral requirements and you can get them with little or no credit history. The default rate is already very problematic - even for good private and public schools. I would go for more favorable terms if the lending policies were tightened up - dramatically limit the total principal allowed without collateral and focus on those who have the best chance at graduation. Perhaps cutoffs if your GPA falls below a 3.25 or something like that.

        •  The SAT (or ACT) is a great suggestion for an (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OrganicChemist

          alternative route to free tuition at a state school.  Maybe the 3.0 cutoff could be for community colleges and the higher 3.25 GPA could be for the universities.  Community colleges tend to have smaller classes and more emphasis on career training.  Like almost all academic scholarships students would need to maintain their attendance and GPA to keep their scholarship.  

          Your suggestion about suspending further loans to students making low GPAs would certainly help. Perhaps they could reapply after working for a year.  Low interest federal loans available to all students would help to keep the debt reasonable, and a year of college can improve skills for some entry-level jobs.  

          Schools need to make sure prerequisite courses are available so students can graduate on time.  Placement of students in courses of appropriate difficulty will help students maintain their GPAs and graduate on time.  Grading on a curve creates a hostile academic environment and is not necessary for academic standards.  All of us who have paid off our student loans do need to keep supporting the younger people who are trapped by oppressive student loan debt.

    •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness
      That is competition that would force for-profit schools to offer better training at cheaper prices and drive out these sham colleges.
      Right now we have exactly the opposite phenomenon:  high private tuition is making it politically possible to raise public tuition, allowing cuts in state education subsidies.

      Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

      by Caj on Thu May 15, 2014 at 11:56:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I found the following on a quickie Google: (12+ / 0-)
    Florida Coastal School of Law, the only law school in Jacksonville, is one of 11 ABA-accredited schools in the state — an extremely high number for a state without an abundance of legal jobs.

    *

    Employment prospects and bar passage

    According to Law School Transparency, about 37% of the class of 2011 found full-time, long-term legal jobs requiring bar admission nine months after graduation (165 out of 451). Eleven graduates were seeking further graduate degrees. Only five graduates were known to be in large firms (101-plus attorneys). Most employed graduates (231) found jobs in Florida, with another 21 in Georgia and two in other countries.

    For those who managed to find employment, the range of salaries is quite low, even in the private sector. For the private sector, the 25th and 75th percentiles were $40,000 and $49,000, with a median of $45,000. In the public sector, the percentiles were $40,000, $43,404, with a median of $41,100.

    For the July 2012 administration of the Florida bar exam, 75.2% of first-time takers from Coastal Law passed. Out of all the Florida law schools, that was higher than only St. Thomas and Florida A&M. The average for first-time takers from all Florida law schools was 82.0%.

    Source:  http://www.top-law-schools.com/...

    It's puzzling to me that an accredited law school could have such a good bar exam rate but such dismal average salaries for graduates.

    If you really want to be a lawyer, I'd suggest finishing those remaining 30 credit hours.  That could be done in night school, perhaps at a different law school.  If you do that part-time in night school, you should be able to finish in 3 or 4 semesters while holding a full-time job.  And you can probably get deferments on the loans.

    •  The Bar passing rate sounds really good (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, wilderness voice, asym

      Then again, as the diarist pointed out- a fair number of their students probably washed out before they could graduate when they either ran out of money or couldn't stomach the spiraling debt.

      •  Yes...the pass rate does jump out... (0+ / 0-)

        Is the Florida exam notably easy. I believe that the California and New York bars are notoriously difficult. When 75%  passing is one of the bad schools, it seems like it can't be all that difficult. Wasn't the Florida bar the one that the star of "Catch Me if You Can" passed just by studying for a couple of weeks?

  •  For profit education (12+ / 0-)

    is an oxymoron.

    The way for profit "colleges" are allowed to do business needs to change radically.

    IMHO, the first change that needs to take place is that these institutions need to be placed under a heavy fiduciary responsibility toward their students.

    Secondly, each loan application for government backing should be place under stringent review and independent professional educators and career counselors should be involved in the process to advise the students about their prospects and about how the whole thing might progress along with the pitfalls and traps they will likely encounter.

    These are just a start and if the corporations don't like the government regulation then fine, they can stop relying on government backed loans.

    Young people just starting out don't have a clear idea of exactly how pernicious debt can be, and these loathsome "educators" prey on that inexperience.

    "PLEASE STOP EATING ANIMALS" Fourth Grader's Crayon Poster.

    by Pirogue on Wed May 14, 2014 at 10:14:29 AM PDT

    •  100% agree here. (5+ / 0-)

      Govt backed loans are a cash cow for these companies (note, I did not say schools) and they must meet strict program guidelines in order to be able to receive them.

      I cringe whenever I hear ads for a certain "IT training school" that accepts GI Bill funds... because I know the owner, and he is such a jackass.

      There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

      by cbabob on Wed May 14, 2014 at 10:36:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Fix Is Incredibly Simple (9+ / 0-)

    Just allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy like every other single type of loan. This would provide debt relief to millions and at the same time tame the vicious cycle of over-lending and skyrocketing tuition costs. And it would drive these for-profit "colleges" from the market.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed May 14, 2014 at 11:05:54 AM PDT

  •  Brilliant essay! Good for You! (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for this brilliant little essay. I hope your project goes far and starts to undo some of the terrible harm that these for profit law schools and so called colleges are doing to your generation.

  •  Hope this serves as a cautionary tale (6+ / 0-)

    Personally I don't see how a reasonably intelligent person could be conned into borrowing $170,000 like this, but I don't know the author.
    We need to do a better job of "schooling" young people in the realities of life, economics, what jobs really pay vs what you wish they would pay, living on a budget, etc.
    Yes student loans are a problem, yes student debt is a problem, but this seems like an outlier.  Did no relative or friend counsel him he or she was making a big $170,000 mistake?  Even Timaeus on a quick google could see warning signs.

    •  Disconnect (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tinfoil Hat, Cassandra Waites

      I think the disconnect here is between 1) the reasonable intelligence of individuals and 2) the impact on society as a whole.

      Not all people are reasonably intelligent. In fact, a little less than exactly half of all people have less than average intelligence. But intelligence is not the only factor that goes into this kind of decision-making. There is also access to information, life experience -- we are talking about young people here, even people in their late teens -- access to good advice and counseling, the ability to measure risk, etc.

      But that seems to be not exactly the point.

      The point for me is that society as a whole is eventually called upon to pay for out-of-control student lending and its consequences.

      Do you want to pay for this? I certainly don't. That is why I would like to send reform of the student lending market, starting with allowing student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy.

      "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

      by bink on Wed May 14, 2014 at 11:47:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  be careful what you wish for (5+ / 0-)

        The problem with allowing student loans to be discharged by bankruptcy is that EVERY student, upon finishing school basically has debt which exceeds his/her assets- That is, every student loan could be discharged by bankruptcy.  Maybe that is what you would like to see, but the real effect would be to completely eliminate student loans.  What lender would ever give student loans knowing that they would all be defaulted?  The end result would be that only the rich could go to college.

        As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

        by BPARTR on Wed May 14, 2014 at 12:04:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think the disconnect is financial illiteracy (6+ / 0-)

        which can effect even the most intelligent people on the planet.

        I can see someone who is young and who has not had to pay a mortgage and the like thinking to themselves "$170,000 is only equal to a couple of years salary and I'll work for 30 or more years so this is a really good investment in myself. If I don't do it, I'll be stuck at low earning jobs for most of my life."

        Well that seems to make a lot of sense until someone reduces it to what the actual monthly payment on a $170,000 debt is, and makes the potentially indentured student see that what they would have mortgaged is their future and any aspiration they might have to having a nice car or a house or a decent apartment because their debt to income ratio will be blown out of the water the second they graduate.

        A better alternative is taking longer, working and being a part-time student if that's what it takes to get an advanced professional (or any) degree.

        My understanding is that student loans were removed from bankruptcy in the first place because too many people had a personal business plan which involved getting student loans and then defaulting and declaring bankruptcy while they were still young and the impact would be diminished relatively quickly and then they could go on into a high paying career while everyone else picked up the tab.

        I am sure there must be some middle ground between making student loans completely dischargeable and completely dischargeable. Elizabeth Warren is on the right track by attacking them from an affordability standpoint. If they become affordable, than the whole discharge in bankruptcy issue becomes more of a moot point.

        Why shouldn't Americans fund 0% loans for students the way we do for the big banks we re-capitalize? That's is Warren's thrust and I agree with her.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed May 14, 2014 at 12:10:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)

          That if the student is forced to bear all of the risk of the loan -- which is what student loans do -- lending companies should not be able to charge interest on them.

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Wed May 14, 2014 at 01:25:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Every borrower bears the risk... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            allie4fairness

            of their loan or pays a heavy penalty in the interest rate if they don't. Student loans have absolutely no collateral. All other low interest rate loans do. Student loans  are also frequently subsidized or issued at below market rates. What is the current credit card rate for a young person with minimal credit history? - about 19 - 23%. If you want the same rules for student loans would you accept the same rules? Dischargeable in bankruptcy but high interest rates and low principal cap.

        •  My daughter borrowed $6,000 (7+ / 0-)

          to get through her last year of college, for a B.A. in Theater Tech. She also got Pell and worked for the college, which is how she got through the first three years (with help when we had it). Meanwhile, her Dad and I maintained the household, bought her vehicle and gas, and raised her young son. Because if we hadn't, she couldn't have finished college at all.

          She graduated cum laude in 2000, immediately got a job teaching and managing the theatrical/auditorium facilities at a private Baptist college two counties up the road. Things were going great until she was electrocuted by a lighting board in an auditorium that should have been condemned 30 years ago, and developed a bad case of epilepsy due to a brain lesion. Which, for the years it took to get it under control, meant she could no longer drive, run theatrical lights (flashy, they are), climb ladders, walk catwalks, etc., etc. We were mostly concerned with keeping her alive and well, but did know it was the end of her career in the field she'd been trained for.

          She was unemployed (and basically unemployable) for 8 years. Finally found a sympathetic retailer who would let her leave when lights started flashing, and got extra money from the state for hiring someone 'disabled'. At minimum wage, 20-30 hours a week, of course. She never went for SSI because she was determined to beat the problem and had a doctor helping her to do that. Which she eventually did and has been seizure and med-free for 5 years now. Still can't do strobe lights or flickering fluorescents though.

          The government attached her wages for payback on that $6,000 loan, that was repaid while she was still at the Baptist college. It's the interest that killed, they compounded it every month for the 8 years she couldn't work. Now owes more than we paid for our house and 26 acres of land.

          We tried ten ways to sideways to get the damned debt discharged or at least interest frozen until she could work again. Not in her field, that's a long dead dream. If she'd had to support herself and her son on the less-than full time minimum wage jobs she's had through now minus the gub'ment dings (more than 50%), they'd have starved or frozen to death years ago. The government doesn't give a shit.

          I'm guessing the private loan sharks are even worse. One of our grandsons graduates this Saturday with ample student debt he only HOPES he can someday pay off, daughter's son quit after 2 years so he wouldn't have to go into Big Debt (and maybe end up like his mother, who has been sentenced to perpetual poverty for her entire lifetime because there's no way to pay what they keep tacking on at her low payment rate that doesn't even cover the interest. This country is shit. We're hoping to emigrate if we can ever sell the farm...

          There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

          by Joieau on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:04:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is an incredibly compelling story and it's (5+ / 0-)

            a showpiece for part of what's wrong with the current system - when people cannot repay loans for reasons outside of their control.

            I cannot tell you how much my heart goes out to you and your daughter. It sounds like she did everything right and it still went wrong.

            Out of curiosity, was there ever any attempt to sue the college or settle with their insurance company for the faulty electrics of the lighting board (if such it was determined)?

            “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

            by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:29:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When the college suddenly (4+ / 0-)

              decided not to pay her initial medical bills ('self' insured), I went all Mad Mama and threatened to sue. I'd just come off of seven long years' worth of suing 5 doctors and a hospital for the medical murder of our son, so I told 'em I had nothing better to do with the rest of my life if they wanted to go that route. They paid up, then promptly fired her so as to get her off their 'self' insurance.

              Went to a lawyer, who did a little mucking around in their finances to find the deep pockets, found out the Board and President had been looting the coffers for up to 7 million dollars a year for the past 20 years or so, they were flat broke. Yes, they eventually did end up in jail for it. No doubt 6 months in the Hilton lockup.

              We certainly could have sued and 'won' - or, she could (as an adult), but we already knew it would cost us far more money than she'd ever see out of the deal. We 'won' our son's lawsuit - and came out a quarter million in the red when all was said and done. We wrote it off to a quest for 'Justice', because that was worth it.

              Daughter didn't want to go through that, put all her energy into beating the epilepsy. And did 'win' that, for which we are very thankful. She has three other jobs she works 'under the table' cleaning people's houses and doing construction, which she can schedule whenever she's not "on call" for the piddly-assed retail not full time job. That's the new business plan for all of them, it seems. Give 20-30 hours a week, but never a firm schedule so they can work other jobs on the up and up. Slavery, pure and simple, plus the gub'ment gets more than half and the debt never goes down.

              Still, the government isn't garnishing those under the table wages, so she's able to live in a 2-bedroom trailer out in the country. With her SO, who is a community college professor who also does odd jobs to make ends meet. This is Southern Appalachia. We got the Great Depression, never saw an inkling of any kind of recovery and don't expect it. We live here for the scenery, and ultimately for the liberty. As if Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose... Which, in fact, it is.

              There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

              by Joieau on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:46:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I think this is a better story (6+ / 0-)

            to illustrate the problem that the original author.

            Plus thanks to  all the others commenting on my comment.

            I do have a daughter in grad school with $18,000 in loans.

            No undergrad debt because as a retired fed employee I took the advice of one of my contract employees "Go to work as a contractor, you will work half as hard and make twice as much."  It was true and I paid her way through a (very good) state school.

            She is very smart, making "A's" in grad school, a Democrat, majoring in Public Policy, and maybe will be one of the people who solves this problem.

            •  Absolutely the best of luck (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              allie4fairness

              to your daughter in finding a decent job in her field, and staying healthy long enough to pay off the loans. I'm wishing the same for my grandson.

              There are ways to get debt 'forgiveness' to a certain extent. From the government, if not the private loan sharks (who always recover the principal from the government, regardless). Teaching and medical care delivery in certain circumstances and demographic regions - and after X amount of pay-back - are absorbed by the 'public' (taxpayers). That's great, it should go farther toward 'public' expense in toto for any teacher or health care provider who enters the public systems for work.

              And if something should happen to a person after graduation that prevents them from working in their field (or at all), then there needs to be an out. I heard that if you can get declared permanently disabled for SSI, there's a level of forgiveness. But what young person wants to be declared officially disabled (mentally or physically) if they're trying really hard to overcome an issue? My daughter is able to work now, and works very hard at a number of jobs. Her disability was temporary as regards her mere ability to work, though permanent in the field of her degree. SSI isn't even as much as the house-cleaning and odd carpentry, artwork and yard sale recycling.

              Is it so outrageous to expect occasional government accounting and overhaul to reflect current realities? A tiny modicum of common sense?

              There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

              by Joieau on Thu May 15, 2014 at 11:09:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  This is an awful sequence of events. (0+ / 0-)

            I'm glad she recovered, Joieau, but what a loss for her and all of you. Absolutely, there should be a way out. I'm assuming you've checked out all the student loan activist groups for possible solutions? I don't know that there are any, just a thought.

            Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

            by peregrine kate on Thu May 15, 2014 at 08:39:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  No, it's not an outlier (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, allie4fairness, TKO333

      My husband is a clinical professor at a top 100 law school. He regularly sees students who are 2 or 3 hundred thousand dollars in debt. That's more than our mortgage was when we bought our house! The starting salary for an associate at a big downtown law firm in our city is about $160,000; not everybody can snag a job like that, though.

      Some of these students are able to land high paying jobs when they graduate, but they still have to put in years of grinding at those big firms in order to pay off their debts.

      When I graduated back in 1983, I was less than $20,000 in debt (college and law school together). My starting salary was close to $40,000. That was a really good financial deal. It's not like that anymore.

      •  My point is that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timaeus, allie4fairness

        most people don't have much sympathy for lawyers (other than pro bono and public service lawyers), so would be big firm lawyers are not the best poster children for the student loan problem.
        Greed, for the want of another word, is not always good.

      •  Yes, it has gotten much worse for new law (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elmo, Cassandra Waites

        school graduates.  One would have to be seriously irrational to go to law school today without (1) really over the top intelligence and health, and (2) extreme ambition, hopefully for doing good.

        I myself had a very hard and very atypical road to a law degree, which I'll skip telling.

        I doubt if I could do that today.

        •  What my husband sees quite often (3+ / 0-)

          are students who don't really want to be lawyers, but they couldn't find a job after they got out of college, so they figure they'll go to law school.

          I shake my head in dismay. I wonder how these people are going to manage all that debt.

          •  For all my troubles, and they were very bad, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites, elmo

            at least I never had doubt I really wanted to be a lawyer some day.  Another long story I can't tell now.  

            But some students, I suspect, need to be read the riot act on this point.  You should never take on the debt if you're ambivalent about the goal.  And if you're set on the goal, do what it takes to get there.

            Incidently, I'm not making this statement in relation to the diarist, who has not participated at all in the diary.  I have no idea what she thinks about this critical point.

            •  I completely agree (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Timaeus, allie4fairness

              with that general point.

              You should never take on the debt if you're ambivalent about the goal.
              And I'd add that it also applies to taking on debt without really having a goal, either. My husband has a niece who is a perpetual student. She's nearing 40, has no particular career goal, but just keeps pursuing degrees. She's amazingly in debt with no possible hope of ever repaying or discharging it.
  •  They weren't clear enough about the job... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neuroptimalian

    ...placement rate?

    But on the Web site, the answer to the question “what are my chances of getting a job when I graduate?
    I stopped rolling the dice about 30 credits shy of a degree, because $150,000 in debt was the stomach-churning outer limit of what I was willing to gamble.
    Your chances of getting a job requiring a degree you didn't get are essentially zero.  You shouldn't need them to tell you that.
  •  My heart goes out to you (3+ / 0-)

    Students like you are a new form of indentured servant, as far as I can tell.  In the past, indentured servants were released after seven years of bondage.  Your situation is outrageous; those who want to prey on young people in this way are despicable.

    Good for you for working to get this fixed.  

    “Now folks, by going on that web show, Barack Obama undermined the authority of the presidency. And that is Fox News' job.” - Stephen Colbert

    by Older and Wiser Now on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:16:05 PM PDT

  •  So, we should ban student lending where (0+ / 0-)

    based on estimated future income there will be a problem repaying the loan, taking into account graduation rates and graduate salaries post employment?

    •  Um, no. (0+ / 0-)

      Reread. Think.

    •  I think you could solve the problem... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness

      If you banned student loans for 95% of for profit schools and about 30% of the public and private non-profits that are a joke as far as being a quality center of higher education. Also instill a mandatory GPA of 3.0 or higher. I would think that a quality degree from a good school by one of these people would ensure that they get a job (even if it isn't in their field) that would allow them to pay back their loan.

      •  Allow all students to refinance with low-interest (0+ / 0-)

        federal loans, too.  The loan rates would only need to cover administrative costs, and losses due to medical bankruptcies. That would also help pull the teeth of the academic loan sharks.

        Choice of academic major does affect GPAs and would need to be considered in GPA cutoffs.

      •  Look at the demographics (0+ / 0-)

        Look at the demographic impact of your suggestion and disparate impact it would have on minorities and the poor. Because when you talk about under-performing schools, those are the human beings you are talking about.
        They are not a joke. They aspire to improve their lives. There's nothing more American than that.

        And there is a mandatory GPA, its whatever GPA is needed to stay in school.

        And the reason, under your plan, those with a degree would be more valuable in the job market is because you just cut a million people out of the job market because they didn't to the 'best schools' with the 'best people'.

        Most of the growth in all college systems since the implementation of student loans hasn't gone into faculty, its gone into support systems for those students. The support systems are always there to support larger regulatory requirements. And, the more unprepared students are, the more the colleges have to provide, tutoring, day care, etc. The same is true in high schools.

        Do we want schools that graduate everyone, or do we want schools that improve the life of any American who takes the opportunity? You can't have both, because your high schools aren't preparing all the people who want to go to college to actually go to college.

  •  People need to give community colleges a look (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    htowngenie, Older and Wiser Now

    Easy to get into. Low cost. Close to home (most have multiple branches throughout the counties they serve). Accredited with qualified instructors.

    When you're done, you walk away with an Associate's Degree. If you decide more schooling isn't for you, you have an AA or certificate and you can get a job with that. You can ALSO use that AA to transfer to a 4 year school, and from THERE you can go to grad school after earning a BA (if you choose to go to grad school, that is).

    I don't know why more people don't give the CC's a closer look. Maybe it's some perception that only "losers" go there or they're not "real colleges". As an adjunct instructor at several CC's here in NJ, I can tell you NEITHER is true.

    Then again, I AM biased since that's where I work, but that's how I see it.

    A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

    by METAL TREK on Thu May 15, 2014 at 08:42:20 AM PDT

  •  looking at that (0+ / 0-)

    So, lets get this straight, you took the most expensive education in the country, Law School, and instead of going to one you could afford, you went to one with a really high price tag. I looked up their web site. Its $20,675 a semester. Now, is a lot of money. Lets say it took you six semesters to finish, and since you must've taken the LSATs we can presume you knew how to multipily 20x6. Then, when its close to finishing, you quit. And instead of being able to get a job as a lobbyist with a JD for your current employer you got the low level job of writing woe is me think pieces. So, instead of 75K your making 30k. Which means that over the 10 year life of your loans if your salary never changes you went from earning a minimum of $750K to a minimum of $300K.

    Where is your personal responsibility in taking on these loans? Law school, thankfully, is supposed to be hard. A good one should make a certain percentage fail. And of those who succeed, a certain percentage should fail the Bar. That's why its the Bar. Its not supposed to be a T-Ball Trophy.

    The reason you are not working in the field of law is because you quit. And, if you question your education, that you weren't able to rise to the top of apparently, and then if $180K was too much for you, then nearly every law school worth the salt you feel you have would've been that much as well, because its not just school, the tougher ones mean you'd pay your rent, and go to school and that's life.

    You didn't bet on the American dream, you bet 2/3 of the American dream. Its as if you were building a house, and when it got to late fall and the roof was almost done, you decided to quit, and now you wonder why your heating bill is so much.

    The best question to ask here is what were your LSATs, and how did you get into Law School? I mean, seriously, its probably good you are not someone's lawyer. I don't mean that to be insulting, in any way. The profession does require a high degree and logical thinking, foresight, the ability to put together complex puzzles and see big pictures. And using Google to find the umptillion measuring stick websites out there that provide information on law schools is pretty easy.

    You say, "if your degree or training is sub-par" but how is it you are able to speak to such a thing, when you quit before getting a degree or the training to assess what your income would've been?

  •  Strategies for Resisting For-Profit Colleges (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeninSC

    I have attempted to contact the Young Invincibles about democratic strategies for students, families, and communities to resist for profit colleges.  I hope someone will respond.  

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