I apologize for any grammatical and or spelling errors. This is a hastily composed hangover post.
I haven’t posted very regularly since moving to San Luis Obispo over a year ago. My wanderlust has been suppressed and somewhat lost because of three factors: work, school, and romantic relationships. Sometimes I feel like I have shot myself in the foot by going to graduate school. Now I am stuck in one place, piling up debt that I cannot run away from. As much as I fight it, I have a hard time being “stuck.” Being “stuck” either results in getting into relationships that could never work out or being a boozehound both to fight loneliness and boredom. I want to be in transit.
Occasionally a drastic event will wake me up from my self complacency. There has to be some type of escape from the rat race, right? In my attempts to free myself from debt slavery I have started to think outside of the box. Two-thirds of students will graduate with some form of debt. The average amount of debt is $26,600 per student. My debt is greater than this total. There is truly a student debt crisis. Education goals have propelled the youth of America into indentured servitude. I stay awake at night imaging myself sitting in the office daily, toiling away to show nothing for it except carpal tunnel syndrome. I will be the first to say that college is not for everyone. There are numerous alternative methods to gain skills and education. For me not going to college was never an option. My parents ushered me in the direction of a higher education. Although it has a hefty price tag, I am grateful for the ways my brain has expanded from my education. I am not happy about now having to worry about what my next move will be.
1. Don’t pay. This will lead me into default basically making me an untouchable in the eyes of the American banking system. I will have my wages garnished, cannot declare bankruptcy, will be unable to really ever obtain any sort of loan. Many are going down this route, the three-year cohort default rate rose to 14.7 in 2010. As irresponsible as I am I don’t want to engage in this clusterfuckery. I already have enough problems with authority to just screw myself for the rest of this existence financially.
2. Be really poor. I am good at this, but honestly am tired of being broke. It’s nice to not be under the stress of not knowing how to pay for anything. If you do find yourself broke, working at McDonalds with your liberal arts degree, you can qualify for deferred payments from economic hardship, but the loan will just be sitting there until you die or until you start making more and have to start repaying.
3. Get severely fucked up. The loan will be forgiven if you become disabled and unable to work. So you can step in front of a semi or get into some type of bike accident and not have to work, but you may miss out on something else.
4. Get really rich. Realistically for me this could be accomplished by winning the lottery, which I am too stubborn to play, marry a rich man (I haven’t even dated a rich man), become an entrepreneur, or by exploiting someone. Urban planning seldom reaches a 6-digit salary.
5. Be a debt-slave. You could go down the conventional route and work 40-hours a week and pay off a loan which will be substantially more than it was when you first took it out. This is the thought that crushes my soul. I could sit at a desk for hours everyday to just still live like a student by making massive interest payments to the Federal government, but there are other ways…
This is where you can get a little inventive:
6. Leave the country. I personally know people who abandoned their student loan debt and have moved abroad never to come back to the US. This is risky as you never know what situation may draw you back into the States.
7. Work full-time in a public service job. The federal government will forgive your loan balance after making 120-months (10 years) of on time loan payments if you work a public service job full-time. You can use this in conjunction with income based repayments which will decrease your loan payment according to your income.
So what is a public service job? The following are listed as public service jobs which qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Sorry this is a big list:
- AmeriCorps position means a position approved by the Corporation for National and Community Service under Section 123 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12573).
- An authorized official is an official of a public service organization (including AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps) who has access to the borrower’s employment or service records and is authorized by the public service organization to certify the employment status of the organization’s employees or former employees, or the service of AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteers.
- An employee means an individual who is hired and paid by a public service organization.
- Full-time means working in qualifying employment in one or more jobs for the greater of: •
- An annual average of at least 30 hours per week or, for a contractual or employment period of at least 8 months, an average of 30 hours per week; or
- Unless the qualifying employment is with two or more employers, the number of hours the employer considers full time. Vacation or leave time provided by the employer or leave taken for a condition that is a qualifying reason for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29, U.S.C. 2612(a)(1) and (3) is equivalent to hours worked in qualifying employment.
- Government employee means an individual who is employed by a local, State, Federal, or Tribal government, but does not include a member of the U.S. Congress.
- Law enforcement means service performed by an employee of a public service organization that is publicly funded and whose principal activities pertain to crime prevention, control or reduction of crime, or the enforcement of criminal law.
- Military service for uniformed members of U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard means “active duty” service or “full-time National Guard duty” as defined in Section 101(d)(1) and (d)(5) of Title 10 in the United States Code, but does not include active duty for training or attendance at a service school. For civilians, military service means service on behalf of the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard performed by an employee of a public service organization.
- Peace Corps position means a full-time assignment under the Peace Corps Act as provided for under 22 U.S.C. 2504.
- Public interest law refers to legal services provided by a public service organization that are funded in whole or in part by a local, State, Federal, or Tribal government.
- A public service organization is: •
- A Federal, State, local or Tribal government organization, agency or entity; •
- A public child or family service agency; •
- A non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that is exempt from taxation under Section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code; •
- A Tribal college or university; or •
- A private organization (that is not a labor union or a partisan political organization) that provides at least one of the following public services:
- • emergency management,
- • military service,
- • public safety,
- • law enforcement,
- • public interest law services,
- • early childhood education (including licensed or regulated child care, Head Start, and State funded pre-kindergarten),
- • public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly,
- • public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health support occupations, as such terms are defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics),
- • public education,
- • public library services,
- • school library services, or
- • other school-based services
This robust list provides an interesting pathway. I am scheming some grand ideas, but cannot share them until they are fully formed.
Despite having semi lost my identity in graduate school, I suddenly see how I can make my expensive and worthwhile education work for me. I am learning many useful skills to benefit humanity, but was scared the price tag of my education would make me bitter towards the experience. Now I feel some hope. Unless someone decides the government should default. Then maybe it would be time for option 6.
There are ways that I can perhaps not have total financial freedom, but can still have the ability to travel. More to come as I build up my preliminary ideas.
Link to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Page: http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service