Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making Ripples

This blog post was going to be a blog post thanking all those people who helped me after the posting of my last entry, and I was epically going to brag about the college I went to and how awesome the professors are there. I mean, of the people who gave me good advice and helped me, some of them were professors from my college. I mean how awesome is that? Not only are these people my Facebook friends, not only am I on a first name basis with them, but they read my blog and helped me out, and I'm not even a paying student anymore!

BUT. This post is not going to be about how awesome my college is because in the midst of all the struggle I was going through.... they censored me.
This is literally my face. Its what I look like right now.
People are staring...

Let me re-preface this again: I love my friends and family and I am truly blessed and humbled by the outreach of support that was given to me after I outlined my financial difficulties for everyone to read. My hope for the previous post was to shed some light for both adults and students alike on what it’s like to be a post college-graduate in 2013. That handling loans is frustrating and confusing and hard to deal with.  I directed all of my frustration towards the loan companies because, honestly, that is where all my frustration lies.
After posting about the struggles I am having with student loans, in an attempt to enlighten people, both young and old about the struggles of a post-college grad in 2013, I received a message from the admissions department of my alma mater….

You see, a few months ago the admissions department asked me if I would be willing to have my blog linked to on the webpage. I was flattered and, having been a face of my college for 2 years on the web page, and an active student in student government, work study jobs, and many other extra-curricular activities, I said yes, of course.

Well, after my most recent post they notified me that, because of the content, they would be severing the connection between themselves and my blog because it didn’t fit in with their recruitment efforts. I totally get this, as an institution it is there goal to get students excited to go the school in any way possible, and talking about the negative effects of loans and how much money they will end up spending is a sure fire way to make that excitement go flaccid.

I mean that is how the advertising world works right? Get the customers to think about the positive aspects of the product they are buying and reduce the impact of the negative aspects. That’s how corporations are able to sell Call of Duty to children and cigarettes to addicts. Anyone from J.P Morgan to a common drug dealer knows this game.  The problem I am struggling with is that Education is not a product. It is not something that needs to be bought by consumers. Educations is a necessity for the enlightenment and enrichment of life. This is doubly true if that institute of knowledge is founded as a non-profit corporation because in their founding documents they decided that education was not about making money! I mean of course big state school would take the approach to making college a serviceable package. That’s how they work. I mean hell, check out some of the big money schools and their webpages, the dorms they advertise look like luxury spas and retirement homes more than houses for the academics of our world.

So I was honestly very disappointed that my alma mater would take this approach of advertising-over-honesty. I mean as a very small, catholic, liberal arts, and NON-PROFIT educational facility, you would think that their goal is to educate mind and to take brilliant people and enrich those seeking to be learned in the ways of the world and the teaching of the ancient and modern minds and philosophies.

I understand that a school needs bodies to keep it going and pay the staff and the board members. But student loan debt has reached an all-time high, and we need to start fixing this issue. I can’t imagine how hard it is for those who are not as lucky as I am to have such wonderful people in my life. My hope for the previous post was to shed some light for both adults and students alike on what it’s like to be a post college-graduate in 2013. That handling loans is frustrating and confusing and hard to deal with.But censoring me proves my point even more so that there is NO HELP when it comes to student loans. It is a problem that people just want to ignore. It’s the turd in the punch bowl that no one is talking about.

In closing, from the bottom of my heart I love each and every one of those people who reached out to help me after my last blog post about struggling with my student loans. And I especially want to give a thank you to those professors whom I count amongst my friends. Thank you everyone. You all are beautiful people and the help you have given me is going to be what gets me through this. The world needs more people like you. Until Next Time...

"But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl."
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Burden

My name is Joey Stamp, I'm a post-college graduate. I make just enough money to be above the poverty line, and I'm currently somewhere around $70,000 dollars in debt with student loans. 
This is me. This is my story.

The frustrating part about it all is that it feels like there isn't anyone to help. There's no one who can give you advice on what to do to tackle this mountain of debt. I mean I can talk to my parents, and they are helpful, but I don't want to worry them or stress them out with my problems, and what if I want to try and solve this on my own? Trying to sift through the mounds of unintelligible and unintelligently designed paperwork literally takes years off my life.

But let me trace back my story to the beginning for you all...

It all started after a young and innocent 18 year old boy was accepted to the wonderful Clarke University in Dubuque Iowa. This was the college he wanted to go to, and he was going to go to it. But soon after the acceptance letter came the cost letter. Because this boys family was a well-to-do middle class family, he didn't qualify for any government assistance. Even after calling the government agencies and pleading with them that he was going to pay for college on his own, and that his family also had two other kids to pay for (something they don't look at when determining governmental assistance eligibility.). So, even though this young boy was paying for college all on his own, because his dad was doing ok financially, the boy received no help.

Because the young boy wanted to go to college and pursue his dream of directing, he decided to take out student loans to help shoulder this financial burden. Over the course of the next 4 years he had a great time at college. Met a bunch of awesome people, made a ton of memories, and had an overall great time. Unbeknownst to him, though, that his loans we're being bought and sold behind his back by banking and loan corporations. Now he is done with school and moving to New York to continue to pursue his dream. The grace period on his loans ended and repayment had to begin. Although he was struggling with making ends meet in this expensive city between rent and transportation costs, he began to tackle his debt. Then he received more letter and more emails from loan corporations and, come to find out, he has 12 different loans between 4 different corporations for an amount much larger than he originally thought and he wasn't even sure how to begin tackling this debt. 

Well turns out that boy is me. I literally feel helpless. I don't make enough to cover the cost of rent, loans, and food. Because my loans are divided up, they are essentially blind to each other and because I have a decent job, they won't grant me forbearance or reduced payments, even though I literally can't cover the costs. To them they only think I have their loan. They don't care that I have other loans. and the frustrating part is that, originally  all these loans were from Iowa Student Loans, but they decided to sell off some of my loans for profit, and now I'm paying for it.

But whats a kid to do? I need a college education to get a job, and I need money to get a college education, and I need a job to get money. But If I don't have one of these three things the pyramid collapses and I get buried. 

The frustrating part is that even if i find money and If I just pay the minimum payment, I will never pay off the loan because of accumulating interest. and the worst part is that my parents are the co-signers, so if I can't pay the loan they have to shoulder the burden, and I don't want to wish that upon them. Even if I were to declare bankruptcy, the loans stay. If I run away to Asia, the loans stay. If I were to die, the loans stay. There is literally no one to escape the loans other than paying for them. And there is no way to pay for them unless I make upwards of 40k a year and I only make 18k after taxes. And there is no service that I have found that is in place to help students try and pay for their loans. And trying to work with the loan companies is nigh impossible because they are literally made to take the most money from you as possible, so they don't care if you default because that means they get more money. 

To make matters worse, I have a combination of Stafford Loans (which are controlled by the federal government and thus subject to federal law), and then private loans (which are controlled by private corporations and thus subject to very little federal law). Because I have both private and federal  I'm doubly screwed because I can't get the same help with the private loans that I could possibly get with the federal loans.  There are some programs in place to help with federal loans (though they are nearly impossibly to apply to) but there are none to help with private loans. 

This is totally a vent blog. Writing is very therapeutic. I don't have any answers. But I wanted to let those readers out there, young and old, know what its like for a postgraduate arts student in the 21st century. Until Next Time....

"I have to win. I owe it to too many people not to lose."
-Goku, Earths Greatest Hero