I’m sure this won’t be the last post I make on student loans (unless I’m shipped off to debtor’s prison in the near future) but I can’t resist talking about student debt.
I wanted to go to the tuition hike protest rally in Wolfville yesterday and do something vaguely radical, but Snowpocolypse 2011 had different ideas. So I didn’t get to be a part of my first rally ever and feel like I was a happening hippie instead of just hippy.
However, student debt is an ongoing concern for me since I was silly enough to go to university (like what was I thinking?)
So here are some ideas from my experience that could make the student debt experience better for me and other students who just want to get an edumacation.
- Have one friggin’ company disburse all the loans. I’ve had student loans since 2000 in some form or another, and the loans have been handled by such entities as the Royal Bank, Edulinx, Nova Scotia Department of Education, Resolve. I don’t know who’s going to throw me into debtor’s prison when I have trouble repaying all my funding.
- Be like New Brunswick and cap the maximum student loan debt a student can carry. The Liberal government capped student loan debt at $26,000 so students never owe more than that (under particular circumstances, obviously.) This $26,000 is at least a fair debt for a student to repay, far better than the mortgage size debts that can result. At least $26,000 is a car sized debt.
- Don’t do “overawards.” These loans are being paid back at a high rate of interest. Don’t act like they’re gifts from the gods by sending students bills to repay “overawards” just because their resources have increased. In case you don’t know what an overaward is, it’s when Student Assistance thinks you’ve gotten too much money for your education and demands you pay back part of your loan ASAP. If you don’t, they deduct it from future awards. Student loans aren’t enough to cover all your costs anyway. Paying back overawards is next to impossible unless you go to the Mafia.
- Don’t insist students earn a minimum amount during their pre-study period. Do you know how hard it is to find work in a small town when you’re a girl? I don’t cut wood or shear Christmas trees, so I’m SOL.
- Oh yeah and guess what? I don’t save almost 60% of my pre-study income for school. I have to live. Show me someone who can afford to save 60% of their pay and I’ll bet they make $100K a year.
- Please don’t cap student assistance rates at a rate that barely covers tuition and rent in a sleazy apartment. I also require healthy food, medications, vision care, shampoo, etc. You know what happens when you cap the funds you can get? Credit cards, that’s what. Yes, I said plural. Credit cards! And I have NEVER been to Cuba on Spring Break or gotten trashed at the student pub.
- Not allowing for clothes and transportation in professional programs like teaching. I’m pretty sure I would fail if I didn’t buy dress pants and nice shirts. Even when you shop at Frenchy’s and Value Village, you still need money to buy decent professional clothes.
- Do everything electronically. I don’t appreciate waiting a month for my disbursement of funds, especially when I have bills that need to be paid. Pony up that money on the first day of classes! That way I don’t have to beg my professors for extensions because I don’t have money yet to buy my textbooks.
That’s my list for now. I’m sure I will add to it in the coming days as I think about all my grievances.