Blackspot

Student Loan Scam

Can we break the chains of student debt?

Ask most university students in the United States how they afford their education and the answer will be "student loans." I once had a discussion with a professor at a film school in California. He said that his students take out student loans of tens of thousands of dollars in order to fund their final film projects but upon graduation are often only able to land unpaid internships in Hollywood. "How do they cope?" I wondered aloud. "Well," my friend replied, "each year a couple of them commit suicide on campus." It turns out that for some students, suicide is the only way they'll ever repay their loans. Student loan debt is a chain that shackles our brightest minds to the consumer society and forces them to use their education to make money rather than benefit society. Those who are unable to make their payments are afforded few protections by the law.

In 1970, Ivan Illich wrote "Deschooling Society" in which he challenged us to rethink the role of compulsory education. Illich explained his position thus:

"Equal educational opportunity is, indeed, both desirable and a feasible goal, but to equate this with obligatory schooling is to confuse salvation with the Church. School has become the world religion of a modernized proletariat, and makes futile promises of salvation to the poor of the technological age. The nation-state has adopted it, drafting all citizens into a graded curriculum leading to sequential diplomas not unlike the initiation rituals and hieratic promotions of former times. The modern state has assumed the duty of enforcing the judgment of its educators through well-meant truant officers and job requirements, much as did the Spanish kings who enforced the judgments of their theologians through the conquistadors and the Inquisition. [...] Now we need the constitutional disestablishment of the monopoly of the school, and thereby of a system which legally combines prejudice with discrimination. The first article of a bill of rights for a modern, humanist society would correspond to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: 'The State shall make no law with respect to the establishment of education.' There shall be no ritual obligatory for all."

If job discrimination was not permitted based upon previous education, but only upon ability to preform the task, then the drive to secure ever more expensive schooling would be undercut. Perhaps what we need is a movement to "deschool society" coupled with the formation of alternative, blackspot schools that impart knowledge in a radical (low-cost) manner.

What is your experience with student loans? How do you think we can revolutionize the educational model?

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com

Attention: do you have a blackspot idea? I would like to print an occasional guest post on this blog and I am now looking for submissions, if you have something to share that will further the blackspot philosophy, write it up in under 500 words and send it to micah (at) adbusters.org.

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22 comments on the article “Student Loan Scam”

Displaying 1 - 10 of 22

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Its me

I paid for my school with student loans as well as working my way through to pay off housing/food costs along the way. When I got out, I only owed about $17,000 (which I understand is much much lower than a lot of people) but even still, over 3 years after graduating and making continual monthly payments I am still about 10 years away from paying off this debt. I don't think I could afford anything more expensive. What I learned in school: not much! We need to revamp our whole educational system, not just college. High school, middle school, even elementary school are way off base and do not provide the basic needs of the students. By the time a kid is in 1st grade, he already doesn't want to go to school. Somebody fix this.

Its me

I paid for my school with student loans as well as working my way through to pay off housing/food costs along the way. When I got out, I only owed about $17,000 (which I understand is much much lower than a lot of people) but even still, over 3 years after graduating and making continual monthly payments I am still about 10 years away from paying off this debt. I don't think I could afford anything more expensive. What I learned in school: not much! We need to revamp our whole educational system, not just college. High school, middle school, even elementary school are way off base and do not provide the basic needs of the students. By the time a kid is in 1st grade, he already doesn't want to go to school. Somebody fix this.

John Brown

I got a Bachelor's degree and a Master's without student loans. I worked the entire time I went to school and took a year off between degrees and saved money for my advanced degree instead of spending it on a car etc. I had zero debt when I left school because I lived within my means and went without a lot of that which other students think they need, but really don't. My education has opened a lot of doors for me and it taught me to get my priorities straight which is far more important than the actual education.

John Brown

I got a Bachelor's degree and a Master's without student loans. I worked the entire time I went to school and took a year off between degrees and saved money for my advanced degree instead of spending it on a car etc. I had zero debt when I left school because I lived within my means and went without a lot of that which other students think they need, but really don't. My education has opened a lot of doors for me and it taught me to get my priorities straight which is far more important than the actual education.

Mick

I live outside of Vancouver, Canada, and I started school because I wanted to give a better life to my children. It took me seven years to complete my bachelor's and my teaching degree because I worked part time while going and now I am $100, 000 in debt. I loved my experiences at school, and I am enjoying my new career as well. However, when my loans came up, the payments they wanted were over half my net income. There is no government protection for this......I sometime wonder if I might not have smarter to have continued serving rather than go to school, because ultimately I would have been further ahead financially than I am now. I understand that with my job, I have benefits and a pension, however the stress of owing the government such an astronomical sum of money under the guise of wanting to provide a better life for my children and myself, seems like a farce. I question these choices daily, and wonder if I made the right ones. I think it's sad that in a modern day society we push the value of education, and the reality of its necessity in many circumstances, but we refuse to acknowledge the potential burden of the hype.

Mick

I live outside of Vancouver, Canada, and I started school because I wanted to give a better life to my children. It took me seven years to complete my bachelor's and my teaching degree because I worked part time while going and now I am $100, 000 in debt. I loved my experiences at school, and I am enjoying my new career as well. However, when my loans came up, the payments they wanted were over half my net income. There is no government protection for this......I sometime wonder if I might not have smarter to have continued serving rather than go to school, because ultimately I would have been further ahead financially than I am now. I understand that with my job, I have benefits and a pension, however the stress of owing the government such an astronomical sum of money under the guise of wanting to provide a better life for my children and myself, seems like a farce. I question these choices daily, and wonder if I made the right ones. I think it's sad that in a modern day society we push the value of education, and the reality of its necessity in many circumstances, but we refuse to acknowledge the potential burden of the hype.

An Earthling

compare Defence and Education+Health spending. The priorities are clear. Elitism of the affluent provides a glass ceiling in "free" US and other pseudo "democratic" societies. Much of primary education all over the world is priming nationalism in kids. So when they grow big enough to carry an assault rifle and need invented money for further education the "freedom" labourers can toil to "save" mother-farther-land and harvest death at the plantation owners foreign premises. This is a US - "developed" world mode. Education need not be turned into homoginising machine. www.thezeitgeistmovement.com

An Earthling

compare Defence and Education+Health spending. The priorities are clear. Elitism of the affluent provides a glass ceiling in "free" US and other pseudo "democratic" societies. Much of primary education all over the world is priming nationalism in kids. So when they grow big enough to carry an assault rifle and need invented money for further education the "freedom" labourers can toil to "save" mother-farther-land and harvest death at the plantation owners foreign premises. This is a US - "developed" world mode. Education need not be turned into homoginising machine. www.thezeitgeistmovement.com

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