When Michelle Holshue graduated from the University of Pennsylvania she ended up on unemployment and food stamps. Not quite what she expected after taking out $140,000 in student loans. Does this story sound at all familiar? NPR interviewed the young woman, who shares her describes the new student-loan infused version of the American Dream.
An excerpt from the NPR piece: Buried In Debt, Young People Find Dreams Elusive
It ‘Isn’t Supposed To Be So Hard’
Holshue says she used to tease her father, calling him cheap for buying in bulk. Now, with a stack of coupons clipped to a refrigerator magnet and a closet full of toilet paper, she’s following his example. Despite careful shopping, she says she often has to put food on a credit card.
But even though she’s just scraping by, Holshue says she’s still living her dream. “It’s really hard,” she says. “Living the dream isn’t supposed to be so hard.”
Cliff Zukin, a senior research fellow with the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, recently surveyed young adults who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011.
“Part of the American dream is that if you work hard, and you get an education and you apply yourself, you’ll be successful,” Zukin says.
But today, says Zukin, one-third of college graduates say that adage doesn’t hold true for them.
Young adults do report being slightly more positive about their own financial success, relative to their parents, Zukin says. But even so, he says, it’s troubling that more than of half of survey respondents say they “don’t think they’re going to be as successful as their parents were.”
Kids And Homeownership Seem Out Of Reach
Holshue says she expects to be paying off her student loans until 2034 — when she’ll be in her 50s. Like many who responded to the Rutgers survey, she does not see owning a home in the near future, if ever.
And much to her mother’s consternation, Holshue doesn’t see how she’ll be able to afford children.
Still, she says she doesn’t regret going to college, or her career choices.
“Even if I was a nurse working in a different specialty, I could definitely make a lot more money,” Holshue says. “But because I wanted to help those who need the most help, I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices.”
And of course, she says, sacrifice is part of the American dream, too.
Read more here.
As is often the case, the best part about this article was what I got to read in the comments. A lot of people kind of reamed this girl! They said the article was another ‘boo-hoo’ story from someone who went to a school she couldn’t afford.
Now this is clearly not an issue for our beloved celebs, but for those of us with hella student loans (myself very much included) is it our own fault? Or did we get duped (or Bush‘d) out of something? Others wrote in that the so-called American Dream needs to be redefined, or done away with altogether.
I never complain about my student loans (although I do shed an occasional tear in the privacy of my own bathroom) because I loved my college and felt it was worth every penny/Stafford loan. But I’m curious to hear what you guys think, especially considering that this is an ongoing topic. Congress recently passed a bill allowing interest rates on student loans to remain flat, but that’s only for a year. And some people even say that this is a bad idea because it will only encourage students to borrow more.
This problem runs crazy deep, but I’d love to hear what you guys think.