Student loans and false advertising of upward mobility

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Yeah, that compound interest on the loan. This is the real insult.

So now, thanks to the gift of Robert Smith and the efforts of presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren to erase student debt for all, we are discussing the elimination of student loans.

I’m here for the conversation. I recently told some people in my life, like Dr Aminah Cherry, a pediatrician. She felt a bit like me about the Morehouse story: I’m glad all the loans are paid off, and mine?

I spoke to my old roommate Keith, who didn’t graduate but still has some loans to pay. He told me that it was okay if I never paid off my loans in full, just to avoid default.

I listened to a podcast, that of Jay S. Fleischman Student Loans Fair, the episode “Student loan repayment strategies for physicians”. I took some notes, but the most important thing was that most of the slices of the student loan pie are too big to digest in one sitting or episode.

A public service announcement from New York City regarding student loans. (Robert Morse)

And I even jumped on the Podcast by K. Weston Media, with Paul Billingsley (who is also a graduate of Morehouse) and Russell Morse, author and journalist from San Francisco, currently residing in New York.

I explained to them my theory that student loans were predatory, especially for people like me who used this opportunity as a tool of refuge. Russell reminded me that there are many for-profit universities which are widely regarded as direct scams. There is also a bunch of professional colleges with questionable practices, in the sense that they tell people to invest in the courses, to get a degree and at the end of it: there are no jobs in the market, and there is no way to recover your money.

Hell, Russell said there were even signs around New York City telling people about the predatory practices of some colleges.

So am I that far off when I postulate that this higher education story is a scam? That the people who give you the hope of financial freedom on consignment are conspirators in the operation? And the schools that bring these people to campus and allow students to be eaten alive aren’t better than the trade schools we despise?

II would even venture to say that student loans and their compound interest could be the best example of long-entrenched systemic racism in the United States. You give a certain group of people a financial head start for hundreds of years, then tell others that to catch up you have to take loans from us, but we’re going to make you pay an arm and a leg !

It’s not just about student loans either. I’m talking about payday loans, sureties and, of course, bad mortgages specifically given to people of color.

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