Guest Post: Operating under a pile of student debt

Upon reading this piece in VICE (It’s Not Your Imagination: Millennials Are Poorer Than Their Parents, Investigation Finds), Sabrina Volante made the same mistake I make time and again due to it being an occupational hazard in proximity to my trade—she read the comments. She then broadly commented on the matter on her Facebook page.

Volante is a graphic designer based in Portland. She has worked for my company as a freelancer in the past, and I was fortunate to be her mentor through the AIGA Mentorship program last year. I published the following with her permission.

I chose the college that I attended because it offered the environment and education that I wanted. Could I have gone to a community college? Yeah, but I wouldn’t be doing what I want to do and isn’t contrary to America’s stupid motto? That you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up?

I took out loans in my name to pay for school and I also foolishly took out loans in my Mom’s name because (surprise!) no one tells you about how scary it will be to try and pay off loans that will affect your Mom’s credit if you don’t at the same time that you’re trying to pay off the loans in your name.

While I was in school I had a full course load and I worked 2 jobs. One gave me a tiny amount of income, which was spent immediately on school supplies (one winter in Maine I wore sneakers that were ripped and glued together because I didn’t have the money to buy boots) and my other job provided me with housing and food at the school.

I’m in debt. A lot of debt. But the amount of debt that I’m in is nothing compared to the debts of my classmates. I did everything I could to get an education in a field that I love and I’ve been punished for it ever since. Now I have a great job that I love, but every month I worry that I won’t have enough money to pay for my student loans. It’s the same feeling that wakes up all millennials in the middle of the night sweating because we were told that we had to go to college to get a job and now we can’t get hired at a living wage. Oh, and we’re expected to somehow survive, and pay off all this debt that we agreed to when we were 18.

I just want to tell people to have some compassion. It’s really scary out there, and we don’t need people telling us that we made a mistake, or we did it wrong, because those were the same people that told us we would be nothing without a college degree in the first place.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.