You know, you could just NOT pay your student loans

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

People on the internet, or at least the small cross-section of Twitter I see on a regular basis, seem pretty upset that President Joe Biden has reneged on his pledge to cancel at least some student debt. President Biden said publicly several times that he would “knock off” at least $10,000 in student debt, and even more for students who went to public universities. However, that promise seems at odds with Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s statement that the power to cancel the debt lies with Congress, not the president. Congressional leaders meanwhile keep saying Biden already has the power to do so through executive order.

This isn’t the first time that Democrats have flat out lied to the people who voted for them, and it certainly won’t be the last. While it frustrates me that leadership seems to continually fall on the people who will say and do literally anything to get there, I have to admit that I don’t care at all about student loan forgiveness. That’s not due to some deep reservoir of cynicism that led me to doubt the promise in the first place; on the contrary, this seemed like the easiest thing Democrats could do to placate college-educated voters. It’s because I had no intention of ever paying my student loans back in the first place.

I humbly submit that if you find yourself upset about this outcome, that you also consider giving your loans the middle finger.

I don’t have a particularly good reason for this stance other than my usual screed against the entire credit system. But student debt does seem like a uniquely insidious permutation of the credit trap. It’s true that people with college degrees earn more over a lifetime than those without, so a little debt might seem like a down payment. However, not all students who enter college actually finish. In fact, 40% of students drop out of school, many of whom take on student debt during their limited time.

That’s what happened to me. I was kicked out of school after one year, and managed to amass $10,000 in debt from that one year. That was debt owed to the school, and didn’t include the $3,000 I took out in loans to try and stay. My debt to the school was paid thanks to a windfall my father received after a work accident, but I was still on the hook for the loans in my name.

I paid dutifully for almost a year, until I saw that paying $1200 over a year had only decreased my debt to $2500. You may be thinking that I should have known more about loans, repayment and interest. You’re right, but the fact is that I didn’t. I was 17 years old and being pressured into college by everyone around me, so I went with little thought or understanding about how it actually worked.

Eventually I just said fuck it. My loans were placed in deferment when I got back into school, but as you probably know, interest continues to accrue on those loans. It felt like a financial burden had placed around my neck for being dumb enough to not understand a system no one had explained to me. How could I ask questions or plan for contingencies about things I didn’t know existed? I was so clueless about the process that I asked a teacher to co-sign a loan for me, not understanding what a massive responsibility that entailed (he declined, of course).

So I stopped paying. The loan went into default, and then I started getting phone call after phone call about loan rehabilitation and how I could get back into the good graces of creditors I didn’t give a fuck about. Finally I agreed when they offered to rehabilitate the loan for $5 a month. I went through the loan rehabilitation, and when they jacked up the payments again, I gave them the finger again. I still get calls from time to time from a Jacksonville, FL number I know to never answer.

Is this going to mess up my credit? If you read the link above, then you know I don’t have a credit score to mess up. Other than that loan and another I took out a few years later, I’ve pretty much ignored credit.

And that’s what I’m saying to you. This insanity only continues as long as we participate in it. How has housing inflated to such ridiculous costs, along with education, transportation and everything else? Because, in this writer’s opinion, there’s no roof on costs as long as loans continue to be issued to cover the impossible amounts of money being demanded from us. All of these fucked up systems require that we go along with them. It’s much more difficult to convince millions of people that they have the power to say no than it is to hope that our political leaders do it for us, but the latter is not going to happen. Which leaves us with the former as our only option.

You can say no. We have to say no, unless we want to be paying ever higher prices for the things we’re told we need.

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