The CLASSIC student loan story

When I wrote a book about student loans, I never expected the sort of backlash that has occurred. How can so many people misinterpret my message? Or worse yet, how could so many people judge a book by its cover, literally? For someone who HATES drama, I found myself in several heated debates over the last couple of weeks. My favorite was a debate with a man that chose to debate the author of a book that he hadn’t read. He accused the content of being fraudulent and undoable. Huh? Sigh.

Anyway. The book isn’t about avoiding college. It’s about avoiding student loans. I encourage you to pickup a copy for your favorite high school student. No seriously, buy the book. Why? Well, I’ll let Sally tell you. Thanks to my Google Alerts (which tells me when people mention my name in cyberspace), I found this post by a blogger named Sally. Go to her blog to read the whole thing, but here is a crucial excerpt. The post is titled A Student Loan Story: In Defense of Pete The Planner’s Stance on Student Loans.

I changed my major 4 times while in college, and it took me 5 years to finish school. Most of my peers were the same way. I worked a part-time job all through college and that money was used to supplement what student loans and credit cards didn’t cover. I graduated, and despite my best efforts, I was unable to find a job in my field. Knowing I had student loan payments coming up in 6 months, I took a job with Verizon Wireless as a customer service representative. I made $12.00 and hour and received benefits. I was in heaven with my $25,000 a year job.

I was clearing about $1,600 a month after taxes. I set myself up with a nice little apartment and started assimilating into the adult world. I wasn’t making much money, but I was doing well enough to provide for myself. I thought I had it made.
“Bring on the student loan payments!”, I thought. “I can afford loan payments!”
I got my first student loan bill in the mail December 2007. I opened it expecting an affordable bill. The reality was much different…
Amount due by January 2008: $600.12

Then came the bill from SallieMae.

Amount due by January 2008: $200.34

This is why you must avoid student loans. You don’t have to put yourself in a terrible financial situation upon graduation. Read the rest of Sally’s post to get the whole story. Oh, and buy the book.

7 thoughts on “The CLASSIC student loan story

  1. Pete

    I’m thinking reason readers and viewers get angry about your message is partly because of the current financial situation they may find themselves and partly because they are not really listening. You make it CRYSTAL clear that you are not opposed to attending college but rather to plan ahead and plan wisely. <<< This right here i.e. the lack of wisdom in planning and the lack of timeliness in planning forces them to face the reality that the business was not handled when and how it should have been handled so the ears close and the defensive (and angry) responses begin.

    It's easier to call you names or react with unfounded anger than for a person to admit they didn't have a plan together and a few back up plans as well.

  2. I can totally relate! I only have student loans for grad school but they are extravagant!! I am just now starting to figure out how to pay them back after having them in forbearance and 4 yrs after college. It almost feels like I have moved through the stages of grieving and I am *finally* in the acceptance stage…

  3. Unfortuantely, I could not avoid student loans. My parents were completely unable to assist me financially. I had no idea how the system worked when I was in high school.

    That being said, I am not at all angry over what you’ve said about loans. If only I could have known then what I know now!! If I had more knowledge in high school (or had parents/relatives that had attended college), I could have been more resourceful and searched for more grants and scholarships.

    Now I am stuck with loans but I have the widsom to pass on to my little brother (who is currently in college) to look around and not to accept loans unless all other options have been exhausted.

  4. Thank you for posting this. I’m in a situation that is similar to Sally and I am very glad that she wrote her post, and you shared it here. I also dug myself into a student loan hole, but have thankfully been able to make my payments on time, in full, every month. I would love to be able to pay more than I owe per month on my loans and plan to once my income increases. Also, thank you for not vilifying those who did make poor decisions with student loan borrowing. I realize I was irresponsible and am working my way out. Please continue to not scold those with student loans, it is discouraging and doesn’t help open conversation about a BIG problem. Thank you for supporting people like Sally and I in our moves toward fiscal responsibility and thank you for encouraging future college students to make the best decisions they can.

  5. I think where I went wrong with your blog about avoiding student loans is that I took it personally. I have a very large student loan awaiting me when I graduate this summer. I felt like you were saying I was an idiot for getting such a large student loan. Maybe I was, but you weren’t saying it. It must have been my conscience. I took online classes and never while talking to a financial aid rep or admissions rep did they ever talk about the full cost of the program. They didn’t want me to realize just what the cost was. Yes, I looked it up on their website and saw it, but their excitement and downplaying the cost worked on me. I’m a fool. I wish I had you around. I’ve said it many times. I wish I had a little Pete the Planner sitting on my shoulder telling me, “No, there are other ways.”

  6. To Lauren: While I felt a little “sting” regarding the subject of student loans because I was only able to prepay for two years of college for my kids, I do believe that it was self-imposed. I do feel bad that my daughter is stuck with student loans in connections with the pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She has multiple bachelor’s degrees. I realize that I had to draw the line somewhere with respect to funding her eduation. Also my personal financial situation changed dramatically. Regardless, it still makes me feel bad that I can’t do more to help her. BTW, she changed career paths due to the current economic crisis choosing to get her bachelor’s in nursing. She felt that she would be more employable as a registered nurse.

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