I didn’t go to college to be financially flexible before I turned 50. Who am I, my parents? I took out $90,000 in loans for the experience, obviously.
College is supposed to prepare us for the real world. And it did. Eight years later and I’m still living in an overpriced, dorm-sized apartment with three people I only sort of like while working multiple jobs and going to my childhood home on the weekends to do laundry. It’s like I never left.
Look, I paid good money to keep paying good money for the rest of my life. What these #CancelStudentDebt people don’t understand is that college is an investment. You gotta spend money to make money. That’s why I’ve spent all of it—past, present, and future.
I, for one, love paying off my loans. I look forward to it every month; the routine makes me feel like an adult, even if literally nothing else does. And although—because of interest—my debt has increased since I graduated college, I still get a tinge of gratification when I press “submit” and send away two-thirds of my monthly income. Having the privilege to eventually, maybe, if I win the lottery or rob several regional banks, pay it all off, someday, we’ll see, based purely on my own hard work and nothing else is so rewarding.
Right now I’m pulling myself up by my bootstraps like a goddamn American. But if we cancel everyone’s student debt and give an entire generation the financial freedom that ostensibly was the whole basis for attending higher education in the first place, then we’re letting the bootstraps win. Then it’s the bootstraps picking us up, and where’s the morale-crushing capitalistic lesson there? If we reward everyone for hard work then we can no longer only reward a few, select people for hard work. Sounds like some communism mumbo-jumbo to me. And I won’t stand for that.
Besides, what am I supposed to do with all that financial freedom anyway? Purchase a two-bedroom home like one of those aristocrats you hear about in the news sometimes? Pass! Lease a brand-new car? And give up my ‘94 Geo Prizm that gets 12 miles to the gallon? Yeah, I don’t think so. BUY A TOOTHBRUSH?!?! Screw you, THE MAN. Why would I want to spend some of my money on material, tangible items when I could be spending all of it on an education that I received a decade ago? How does putting my money back into the economy help anybody except for everybody?
It’s pretty simple. When I was a senior in high school I had it all figured out. Every 17 or 18-year-old kid does. That’s why we’re trusted to make the biggest financial decision of our lives, largely based on which university has the best party scene. Did I fully comprehend how big a number 90,000 was? I mean, I’d heard of the number before, if that’s what you’re asking. Like, I knew it came after 89,999. And I was pretty sure even bigger numbers existed. That being said, it did seem like a lot of money. But everyone was doing it and, boy, do I love jumping off bridges. And if it was actually a bad financial decision that would bog me down for the rest of my life, preventing any hope of upward mobility, surely my parents, collegiate institutions, and the government wouldn’t have advised me to do it. Certainly it wouldn’t be the de-facto option.
Listen, the American Dream doesn’t come cheap. I knew in order to get a good job, own a house, raise a beautiful family, and live a wonderful life, I would first have to go to college—and then, because I went to college, delay all that other stuff indefinitely. And in that sense, haven’t I achieved the American Dream? Isn’t that what it’s all about: the possibility? If you cancel my debt then you’re forcing me to stop dreaming. You’re forcing me to stop dreaming that someday things will be better, because by canceling my debt, things will immediately be better.
And, frankly, there’s nothing less American than that.