Student Loans: An Offer We Can't Refuse
When I graduated college 11 years ago, at an age I’d rather not disclose, (yes grammar Nazis, I graduated) I felt great! Well, maybe “great” isn’t the most descriptive adjective to use here, I mean I had a mountain of debt and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. Ok, wait a minute, maybe “had” isn’t the best adverb to use in that sentence. I mean I still “have” the debt, in fact I haven’t made much of a dent in it since then so…Ok, ok, maybe I’ll start over.
When I graduated college I was healthy…yeah, that’s basically true. I had no idea I was going to be paying large sums of money to loan companies for many years. Ok, ok, I admit that I did know, but I just sort of thought that whatever problem it caused would just resolve itself. I figured I’d just ignore the loan companies like they were the Raccoons in my back yard looking for food. If you just don’t feed them they’ll stop coming around. I mean I was a 26 year old college graduate with an accredited Bachelor of Arts degree from a public university, (wait a minute, forget that I told you my age) I was sure I would outsmart these loan companies. I mean it’s not like super intelligent doctors and lawyers fall into this trap, right?
Having student loans hanging over your head is sort of like asking Vito Corleone for a favor at his daughter’s wedding. Accept it turns out the favor didn’t really help you that much. I mean the only reason you really asked for the favor was because your Dad (and society) sort of pressured you to ask for the favor, even though Dad had the money to pay for the favor but he didn’t like what you wanted to do with the favor so he was like, “…Well if you study something that will get you a job fast like engineering, maybe I’ll pay for the favor.” Anyway, here I am with this debt to Don Corleone and I don’t really want to pay him back but he is the Godfather and I kind of promised, but I wasn’t really serious and I mean c’mon the Godfather is an understanding guy with a sense of humor right? Maybe he’ll just let it go.
In the time I’ve been paying these stupid things my loans have been sold something like 3 or 4 times. They always send me a letter that says something like “We will no longer be servicing your loan, your new loan servicer will be [insert loan company here]” When I read the phrase “…servicing your loan,” It conjures up images of my loans in a strip club with old white banker guys in suits rubbing up against them and telling them how handsome they are. I’ve told my loans many times that they are just saying those things to get more interest out of them but once my loans get all drunk and excited it’s hard to snap them out of it.
Much like strippers, “loan servicers” seem to put a lot of thought into naming themselves. Right now I have two loan companies, one is called Navient and the other is called Nelnet. It almost sounds like two people came up with the same name and the second person changed theirs a little just to be different, “What’s your new loan company called? I named mine Nelnet.” “Oh, uhhhh, Nelnet huh? Well I’m naming mine Naaaviennt then…I guess.” Navient sounds like a made up word you heard your boss say in a big meeting but you were too spineless to stop the meeting and challenge him or her on it’s authenticity. Given that this “Navient” company split off from the student loan giant Sallie May (another interesting name) it may be that an obnoxious V.P. repeated the word enough they decided to found a whole other company with it. Nelnet, on the other hand, sounds like a communications company that targets low income customers and wastes no time selling info do data brokers…like, NO TIME! (Disclaimer: Loan companies, please don’t sue me, these are only jokes and I’m sure you’re only interest is “servicing” loans. I’m not saying you ARE these things, I’m just saying you “sound” like them. I guess if you did sue me you could just add it to my tab).
What’s worse is that being out in the world now, all I can notice is how unnecessary my undergraduate degree is. I recently took a tour of Harvard, that’s right I was a stupid tourist walking around Harvard with a guide, it was fun…shut up! Unsurprisingly, I heard that it’s expensive to attend Harvard, like REALLY expensive. According to Google it costs over $63,025 (https://www.harvard.edu/about-harvard/harvard-glance) annually to get an undergraduate education there but what most people don’t know is that anyone can buy a sweatshirt in the gift shop. Seriously, we walked right in! If I was the President of this prestigious university I’d be stopping that shit right now because it’s making those degrees virtually worthless. What they should give out at the end of your 4-7 years at Harvard is a Sweatshirt, not a diploma! I mean, I walked around my hometown for an afternoon with a Harvard sweatshirt on and I had 4 job offers, two marriage proposals and a free doughnut! Given that the current balance of my Student debt doesn’t even total half of one year of a Harvard degree I should probably quit complaining. I just wish I had discovered this sweatshirt racquet 15 years ago.
If I had it to do again I would probably just tell everyone that I got into Harvard, and then go hang out there for 4 years. I would wander around the campus panhandling and couch surfing until I finally had enough money to buy a sweatshirt on graduation day. Then I would just wear my sweatshirt around the country weighing six figure job offers and telling people that my student records don’t exist because I was in a club so secret we aren’t even supposed to tell people that we went to Harvard. “Secret Crew Oars and Skeletons Club?” a powerful executive guy might whisper into my ear as if I’m supposed to fall for it. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” I would say with a wink. Then he winks back and we exchange winks for a full minute. “You’re hired,” he would say as we clink brandy glasses together and light our cigars with flaming $1000 bills.
It’s all so obvious now, how could I have been so Navient.