All Articles Tagged "student loans"

I’m Drowning In Student Loan Debt And Don’t Know What To Do About It

November 2nd, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Unless I win the lottery, rob a bank or am somehow excused from having to pay back the money I borrowed to fund my post-graduate education, I don’t know how I’ll ever get the massive debt monkey off my back.  It’s not an impossible feat, mind you, but I am realistic about what it will take to make that happen.  I just wish that realism was alive and well when I decided to borrow the money in the first damn place.

If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have borrowed only what I needed to pay my school fees.  While that seems both obvious and logical, I made a conscious decision during that time not to work while I was earning my degree.  I wanted to be laser-sharp focused and fully immersed in honing my craft.  I planned to take advantage of every class and internship of interest and spend all of my free time writing, rewriting and then writing some more.  If ever there were a perfect time to be selfish and to alleviate some of the responsibilities and burdens that come with being an adult, grad school was it.  So I borrowed enough money to attend school full time and pay my bills without having to work a 9 to 5 or any other shift.  When will I ever have it this good? I thought.

But there’s nothing good about being knee-deep in debt.  And the crazy thing is, I didn’t borrow an unreasonable or astronomical amount of money to fund everyday living expenses.  Even if I received only what I needed to pay for school, I would still be singing the student loan version of Angie Fisher’s “I.R.S.” song.  I also had a naïve understanding of the harsh realities of being a writer and, more importantly, the reality of having a master’s degree in a creative, non-doctor, non-engineer or similar field of study where an advanced degree is required, field.  Nobody cares.  And the second you move that graduation cap tassel from the right side to the left, they might as well hand you your first student loan bill payment.

It took several months after graduation to land a job, but that, of course, didn’t keep student loan payments from rushing in.  And with that job, I didn’t make enough money to afford the payments established for me.  While there are different repayment options and plans available that supposedly cater to your financial needs, they don’t take a lot of factors into consideration and often end up being infeasible.  So you fall behind in payments, you defer, or you declare forbearance – all temporary solutions that delay the inevitable and pile on interest.  If you’re overwhelmed, you might even completely ignore your student loan payments when they come in the mail or appear in your inbox.  I’ve done all of the above.

And don’t let your account be in default or delinquent.  That’s giving permission to creditors to call you and anyone you’ve ever known incessantly.  I get incensed whenever I receive a call from Navient talmbout, “Would you like to make a payment to bring your account up to date?”  Uh, yeah, let me write a check for $11,000 real quick.

And it’s the seriousness with which they pose such a stupid question that makes me angry.  Anyone who can afford to make such a payment probably wouldn’t have borrowed the money to begin with.

There are times when the amount of money I owe is debilitating and downright depressing.  Other times, I can see the light at the end of the student loan debt tunnel.  But no matter where my thinking rests, interest on my accounts accrue and option number two (robbing a bank) looks more and more likely.

In all seriousness, I sometimes wonder whether my education was worth the stress and a lifetime of loan repayment.  What I learned in grad school, the friends I made – all of that is invaluable. But being saddled with debt somewhat undercuts the promise of higher education.

Our economy has drastically changed.  Having a degree, advanced or not, doesn’t guarantee employment, nor does it guarantee that you won’t be underemployed or unemployed, for that matter.  Former students who have loans to repay are in debtors’ prison.  Because of it, they’re unable to get regular consumer credit and purchase homes.  Some are even delaying marriage.  This is no doubt a crisis, one that will take decades to solve, let alone reform.  But I’m no Marty McFly.  I don’t have Doc or a flying DeLorean to transport me back in time so I can avoid the reality I now face.  All I can do is make smarter choices and hopefully educate people along the way about what it’s like living with lots and lots of student loan debt.

Take It From Me, I Graduated With Student Debt

September 24th, 2015 - By Christine Mwaturura
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Bringing up student loans is kind of like bringing up STIs: it’s an uncomfortable topic we’d rather ignore and you can never be sure who has them. Sadly, because loans are such a taboo subject that is wrongly tainted with a certain degree of shame, the knowledge of those who have dealt with the realities of student debt is often not shared. When I took out $20,000 of student loans I didn’t have a resource to help me better understand just how debt could affect my life post-graduation. I graduated five years ago and I’m still paying off my loans. Occasionally I wonder how my peers are dealing with debt. So I set out to hear the stories of other millennials who graduated five-seven years ago with debt balances at graduation ranging from $10,000 – $90,000. Here’s what some of them had to say. 

Madame Noire: How has student debt affected your life?

Sarah: Student debt has definitely affected my life in a huge way. One major aspect is the fact that I am still living with my parents in order to pay off my debt as fast as I can. Over half of my paycheck is going towards these loans and this is what makes it so difficult to move out and start my life. So for now, I am living with the feeling that life has yet to begin for me.

Dylan: I’ve talked about [debt] with my current girlfriend as we’ve gotten more serious. After we decided to move in together, we made a decision to live in a smaller apartment than I might otherwise if I didn’t have debt. I made a conscious decision to not take on other large amounts of debt, like a mortgage, until I can pay off what I currently owe.

Mike: Student debt has definitely been a burden since leaving college several years ago. It’s had a direct impact on where I live, the type of car I drive, the number of vacation trips I take, and just the overall financial quality of my everyday life. I lived at home with my parents for five years after graduating, rather than getting an apartment. I bought my first real car three years after graduating college. [My wife and I] actually just moved to a more modest apartment to get some extra cash to pay off [debt] faster.

MN: How do you feel about debt now?

Sarah: I feel debt is stopping me from fully living life and I don’t want this feeling to linger on when I get married and have a family. I like the feeling of knowing that everything is fully paid off. It’s a feeling of freedom. I would definitely borrow money if I had no other choice. However, this would now be my last resort as opposed to a few years back before graduating college and really understanding the power of debt.

Dylan: I think if you’re smart about it and don’t take on more debt than you can handle, it’s an effective tool to be able to purchase things that you may not be able to otherwise. I’m in favor of debt, but I think that people need to be better educated about debt, especially going into college. It’s not a good idea to take out $200K of debt if you don’t have a career path in mind that wouldn’t allow you to pay off that kind of debt.

Mike: We’re committed to not borrowing money again, except most likely a 15-year mortgage. We avoid debt and credit cards like the black plague. We believe that “the borrower is a slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7), and are going to cancel our credit cards as soon as the balances hit zero. We plan to save up for everything and pay with cash.

MN: Was borrowing worth it and would you do it again?

Sarah: Although I want to say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the degree that I received and the debt that I took out to pay for my college, I don’t think this is true. I know many students that went to a public college for their undergraduate and then a private college for their graduate school and they still got to where I am in the very end. The thing is that I loved my experience at the college that I went to and I wouldn’t change that for anything. I would definitely do it over again just for this reason.

Dylan: Given that my graduate degree (which is what I took on debt for) is completely different from my undergraduate degree in liberal arts, I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am career-wise without debt. I absolutely would take on the debt again, because I have a career that allows me to repay the debt at a reasonable pace.

Mike: It’s hard to say. I’m of the mindset that everything happens for a reason but if I had to do it all over again I would not have borrowed any money for college. I was the first in my family who even had the option of attending a four-year college, so I believed that I had to do whatever it [took] to go to a big school and graduate in four years. I think the best path to take is to pay your own way through college, even if that means community college for two years then attending a four year college after.

If we solely focus on the economics of borrowing money for post-secondary education then, as reported by The Atlantic, in the long run school loan debt is largely a good decision. However, the thing that I drew from the conversations with my peers is that there are so many other highly subjective variables that determine your perception of how worthwhile it is to borrow.  My economist friend shed light on possible factors such as the cost of worrying about not having enough money to make tuition payments on time if you don’t borrow, or on the flip side, the cost of choosing a career path you hate but need in order to pay off your incurred debt. Yet despite our unique dispositions and circumstances that influence our feelings about debt, the single unifying theme from all whom I spoke with was that we wished we had received more education on debt earlier on in life: things like refinancing options, fixed vs variable rates, what is a good interest rate, the concept of compounding, how interest payments work, what it means for your take home pay etc. One friend said, “[He] should have taken a more proactive view of the realities of lending starting at age 16.”

Was your student debt worth it?


Should Parents Demand Their Children To Pay Them Back For College?

June 2nd, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Person asking/borrowing/begging for money (handout)


You might want to be careful how you treat your folks. They just might hit you up for the money that helped to pay for your college education.

Forbes magazine reveals a growing trend where parents help finance their child’s higher education, so long as they get their money back. It looks like the days of saving for your child’s college because you want to help are over.

I’ve heard of a few parents asking for their money back after college, but it certainly wasn’t the norm. Most parents I knew (mine included) did what they could to help make sure their child earned a degree. While I took it upon myself to search for scholarships my junior year in high school, I can remember a period of time when my dad worked additional hours to bank money for tuition payments. Luckily 80 percent of my college was financed by grants and scholarships, but I can’t imagine my parents tapping me on the shoulder after I graduated looking for their money.

Now that I’m a mom, I want nothing but the best for my children. Yes they’ll need to work hard and establish independence, but that doesn’t mean my husband and I won’t come out of pocket when needed to make the road a little easier to navigate. When it comes to their college education, they too will have to search for scholarships and grants. We have 529 college savings plans in place that will help cover some — not all — of the costs. Sure it’s not a parenting “mandate” but something we want to do and think is right.

Everyone has their own stipulations when it comes to who gets their money and requirements for keeping up the arrangement. Some parents just aren’t willing to foot a college bill if their kid fails to get good grades, or messes up in another way.

That’s pretty understandable.

I have a little trouble understanding a parent’s reasoning for wanting their money back considering many today allow their children to move back home, and in some cases, still help pay their bills. Obviously these “allowances” have the potential for parents to come out of their own pockets. So what’s the difference? There are some people who believe providing financial assistance to a child in college is more acceptable than a grown adult who can work for themselves.

Maybe these parents are experiencing hard times of their own and can’t afford to help their child with college. If that’s the case, is it better for the student to apply for tuition assistance like a student loan? It’s certainly not uncommon to take one or a few out. The average amount of student loan debt is on the rise.

Parents who expect college contributions repaid should establish this sooner rather than later. The last thing anyone needs is to assume one thing and have something completely different occur. I can only imagine the impact that would have on future communication and the relationship between a parent and their child.

Money has a way of making situations very ugly. It’s important to be upfront and honest so it doesn’t get in the way.

Do you think it’s right for parents to ask for their money back?

Goodbye, Sallie Mae: How To Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt Faster

April 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Shutterstock

Image Shutterstock

Student loans are a pain, but they don’t have to be for long. These tricks to paying off your student loans faster will put you at the top of the debt-repayment class.

College Student Compares Herself To Rosa Parks Because Of Student Loan Struggle

March 19th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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ScreenGrab/ Fox  News

ScreenGrab/ Fox News

Earlier this week, former college student Mallory Heiny wrote a piece in The Washington Post about not paying back her student loans for the now-defunct Everest College.

In her article, Heiney says Everest lied to her about the education she would receive, and her adviser told her she could defer student loan payments until after graduation. Unfortunately for Heiny, two months into her nursing program she received loan payment notices.

To make matters worse, she says her professors only read aloud from textbooks and did not teach the material she needed to pass the nursing license exam. Thanks to YouTube and online practice tests, Heiny was able to pass the exam. Despite her success, Heiney along with 15 other students who attended Everest College have refused to pay pack the loans they acquired during their enrollment.

Everest College —which was under the Corinthians Colleges Inc. — closed after its parent company came under investigation for financial wrongdoing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Department Of Education worked together to claim $480 million for debt relief to students who were enrolled in colleges under the Corinthians Colleges umbrella. Though debt relief was earned for the students, their federal loan debt cannot be waived.

Heiny, who is upset that she must still pay back  federal loans for a school that no longer exists, compared her struggle to that of Rosa Parks:

“In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus. This soon led to the revolutionary Montgomery bus boycott. If those who came before us can take a stand in the face of persecution, harassment, beatings, imprisonment and even death, I will certainly stand in the face of wage garnishment and a tarnished credit report.”

While many people understand Heiny’s frustrations, some believe she should not compare her financial struggle to the Civil Rights Movement. Corinthians Colleges could have filed Chapter 11, but since they didn’t Heiny claims she and other students must pay back the school’s debt even though their institutions no longer exist. By going to the press Heiny hopes she can show the financial aid practices used to make students poorer.

Do you think Heiny is the Rosa Parks of college students?

Get Schooled: Here’s What Happens When You Fail To Pay Your Student Loans

March 9th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Don’t try this at home.

Although a group of students are going on a debt strike against Corinthian Colleges and boycotting their student loans, it’s not a good idea for everyone to do the same.

A little more than 11 percent of student loans were delinquent at the end of 2014, which is double the numbers compared to a decade ago. But as we all know, being late in repaying your student loans can have negative consequences.

Here are the five most important things that can happen, according to Yahoo’s Mandi Woodruff.

–Your credit score will drastically drop and a low credit score will make it much harder to get approved for new lines of credit. And in some cases, it could affect your job prospects.

–You could default if you skip making payments for more than 270 days, and default is nothing to take lightly. As a result, the bank could demand the payment in full and give the account over to a collections agency.  A loan that is in default can do more damage to your credit score than a delinquent loan, and it can be very difficult to get approved for any new credit (auto loans, mortgages, etc). It can even impact a simple cell phone plan and make it tough to get a job with a default loan on your credit report.

–Forget your tax refund. If you allow your student loan to go into default, you can forget about getting your tax refund check–it will go instead to paying off your federal debt.

–Your wages could be garnished. The federal government can take up to 15 percent of your income if you default on your student loans. If you’re retired, they can even garnish your social security benefits. And yes, private lenders can garnish your wages, too, but they have to take you to court first. You can hire an attorney to fight it, but of course, that will cost you even more.

–If you had a co-signer for your loan and you’re in default, your co-signer will be in trouble as well. They can be at risk for credit damage, wage garnishment and even lawsuits. While it’s usually possible to remove your cosigner, if you’re already in default, it will be impossible.

But before things go left, know that there are steps you can take to get your student loan payments back on track.  Prioritize your loans if you have several of them: “Loans that have the highest interest rate should go at the top of your payoff list,” says Woodruff. And also be sure to pay off private loans first because private lenders won’t be as flexible in offering such replacement plans as loan deferment and income-based repayment.

If you’re having trouble paying, contact the lender and explain your situation. They may offer a variety of repayment options such as income-based repayment, loan deferment or forbearance, and loan consolidation (all of which you can apply for free here).

To keep making payments on time, set up auto payments that will be taken out of your bank account on pay day. An added perk of signing up for autopay is that you may qualify for an interest rate discount (ranging from 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent) on your loans.

Students Refuse To Pay Their Student Loans, Go On A Debt Strike

March 2nd, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Student loan debt is out of control and now some students are fighting back by conducting a “debt strike.”

“Fifteen former students of the failing for-profit giant Corinthian Colleges are refusing to repay their federal student loans in a protest designed to pressure the government into forgiving their debt,” reports The Washington Post. Most often at for-profit colleges, African-American and Hispanic undergraduates are urged to take out student loans. In fact they are more than three times as likely to take out private, high-interest rate education loans as their counterparts at other colleges.

Corinthian runs Everest Institute, Wyotech, and Heald College and has a high number of loan defaults along with allegations of deceptive marketing and even misleading the government over its graduation rates. Because of all of this, Corinthian lost its access to federal funds in 2014, and this forced the company to either sell or close its schools. Feeling they did not get their money’s worth due to the upheaval, 15 current and former students of the for-profit schools have asked the Department of Education to erase debt they say Corinthian pressured them into taking. And they have some powerful political support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) as well as other Senate Democrats wrote Education Secretary Arne Duncan in December pushing for  him to erase at least some of the loans because Corinthian broke the law and “failed to hold up their end of the bargain.”

“Corinthian took advantage of our dreams and targeted us to make a profit,” the so-called Corinthian 15 wrote in a letter to Duncan. “You let it happen, and now you cash in. We paid dearly for degrees that have led to unemployment or to jobs that don’t pay a living wage. We can’t and won’t pay any longer.”

Of course, not paying the student loans could result in their paychecks being garnished, tax refunds withheld, or even a portion of their Social Security taken from them. But the students are willing to take that risk in their fight.

The 15 student protesters have partnered with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement known as the Debt Collective. Last year the group organized a program called Rolling Jubilee through which they buy student loans from debt buyers for cents on the dollar and wipe out the debt. So far, the campaign has wiped out more than $30 million in medical and education debt, including $13 million in private student loans for Everest students. It was Debt Collective that reached out to Corinthian students when the for-profit schools started to go under, and for several months tried to get the Education Department to forgive the federal loans to no avail. Hence the strike.

After the strike was launched more than 100 borrowers wanted to join. Before doing so Debt Collective insists they  attend a financial literacy workshop on the consequences of not repaying their debt.

The Education Department has broad authority to cancel federal student loans when colleges violate students’ rights and state law. Already the department has worked with ECMC, the student debt collector which bought more than half of Corinthian’s campuses, to forgive many of the private loans in Corinthian’s Genesis program. Those students will get an immediate 40 percent reduction in the principal balances on their loans. The remainder is to be forgiven over the next few years. But this deal does not apply to students who took out federal loans; it’s only valid for private loans.

Word is still out on if a deal can be reached for the federal loan holders.

A Snapshot Of U.S. Student Loan Debt: Who, What, Why & How

February 9th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Student loans are the biggest thorn in the rear for 45 percent of millennials in their mid-20s. Oh yeah, you read right — nearly half of the nation’s 25-year-olds are shackled by their student loan debt. National Journal zooms in on our nation’s student debt troubles, answering your pressing “who, what, why, and how” questions.

The share of American students who owe their lenders nearly doubled from 2003 (25 percent) to 2013 (45 percent), NJ reports. In 1999-2000, only one percent of post-grads were burdened with more than $50,000 of debt. During the 2011-2012 academic year, that figure stood at 10 percent.

The percentage of borrowers who are tardy with their payments climbed from 20 percent from 2004 to 35 percent in 2012.

NJ notes that the rising tuition prices over the past decade, of course, contributes to these dreadful stats — but there are other variables, too: Shady, underhanded practices from conniving lending institutions. ThinkProgress calls out Corinthian Colleges (the head honchos behind Everest College schools), for example, for allegedly luring students into predatory loans:

“…Corinthian intentionally inflated its tuition charges to exceed the maximum amounts that federal education loans will cover. When students came up short as a result, Corinthian offered them alternative loans under the Genesis program that were far more expensive […] and used illegal debt collection tactics to strong-arm students.”

On top of these crooked practices, other reasons for difficulties in repayment include economic hardships and lack of education on how to properly manage student debt. “Sometimes loans are simply forgotten about in the haze of post-school transitions,” NJ added.

NJ notes that there’s a typical face to your struggling debtor — and it’s not the White student graduate with the engineering degree in hand. Black borrowers are much more likely to default on their loans, in comparison to White and Hispanic students, and tend to owe 22 percent more. Asians are in the same boat as Black debtors, but with one exception: “Defaults in the Asian group occurred after a larger portion of debt had been repaid,” NJ adds.

The high default rate among Black borrowers might be due to family members inability to financially assist their post-grad kin;  wealth in the African-American community is notoriously low. It’s not insufficient post-school income that makes one vulnerable to default on their loans per se, but poor financial support.

And if you’re a liberal arts major, forget it! Students with a degree in humanities are more likely to default on their student loans. As for business and engineer majors, payments are a breeze.

Regardless of race and socioeconomic factors, the average post-grad student owes $34,722 and has a monthly bill of $350. Quoting a new studyNJ says that the only way to combat the rising student debt burden is for lenders to disseminate flexible borrowing programs.

“Students of different abilities, making different investments, and borrowing different amounts should generally face different repayment schedules.”

These one-size-fits-all lending practices just don’t cut it.

The Pros And Cons Of The White House Proposal To Make College Free For 2 Years

January 12th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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College Free For 2 Years

Source: Corbis

By now you might have heard the news that President Obama wants to make college free, at least for the first couple of years.

According to the fact sheet on White, the America’s College Promise proposal aims to provide free college, up to two years, for “responsible” American students. The proposal is estimated to save 9 million students, on average, $3,800 in tuition per year.

As the White House writes about the “whys” of this proposal:

By 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s ecegree and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Forty percent of college students are enrolled at one of America’s more than 1,100 community colleges, which offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations. They are particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. For many students, they offer academic programs and an affordable route to a four-year college degree. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing, health information technology, and advanced manufacturing.”

According to the proposal, students with a GPA of 2.5 or above and who are already attending college half-time will be eligible to have their tuitions waived. Likewise, the program aims to work with community colleges to help them offer “programs that either (1) are academic programs that fully transfer to local public four-year colleges and universities, giving students a chance to earn half of the credit they need for a four-year degree, or (2) are occupational training programs with high graduation rates and that lead to degrees and certificates that are in demand among employers.”

The proposal doesn’t say specifically how it plans to pay for the tuition waivers, which is estimated to cost $60 million over a decade. However, the White House writes that it is hoping to partner with interested states and will reimburse them for seventy-five percent of tuition costs for each individual student.

Admittedly, I haven’t been the biggest fan of all of the president’s policies; however, I must tip my hat to him for taking on such an ambitious proposal. If he is able to pull this off, he might be the most socially progressive president in our history. And that is a big “if.”

First, what I do like about the program is that it acknowledges what has long been a widely-known, but closely-held secret among many students and even faculty at four-year institutions: the first two-years of college are kind of bullshit. Okay, not exactly…

But there is a reason why most college guidance counselors advise students, particularly those who have yet to decide their majors, to explore and sample a variety of disciplines in your first couple of years in college before committing to a program in your final two years.

Personally speaking, I loved my humanities, political science and sociology classes. They added much needed perspective to my learning experience. However, there were other classes, which felt more like refreshers from high school. And while those classes were also helpful, I didn’t feel like they should have cost the same amount, per credit, as classes, which were more directly related to my major.

And this is important to note, as my tuition costs for the first two years of classes, which were unrelated to my major, started around $12 thousand. (That number includes on-campus living expenses.) That was the cost in the late 90s. Well over a decade later and the price of higher education has risen to astronomical levels. Even worse than the cost of college is the questionable job market, which in spite of its recovery, fails to produce sustainable incomes to college students upon graduation. This is important to highlight as American students are currently over $1 trillion dollars in debt and it is starting to have an effect on the overall economy, according to this article in Time magazine. Therefore, this proposal has the potential to make a four-year educational experience more cost-effective, which means less student loans.

Not to mention the proposal also seeks to make community college credits more easily transferrable to four-year institutions. As this report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education notes, both “affordability and transfers” have long been major obstacles to four-year degree programs for over the 40 percent of all American students currently enrolled at community college.

Of course, this proposal is contingent on Congress’ approval and as Ben Miller, senior educational policy analyst at the New America Foundation tells the LA Times, “Anything involving more money to pay for things is going to be difficult in this Congress.”

Likewise there are concerns about the impact such a change will have on cheapening standards at traditional four-year universities and colleges. Public eduction advocate Diane Ravitch highlighted some of the opposition to the White House’s proposal on her personal blog. In particular, she references a letter she received from a college faculty member working at a university in Tennessee, which already offers free tuition for two years at community colleges. More specifically, the faculty member notes:

Here is a concrete example from my university, The University of Memphis (UofM), that should give a pause to the celebration of free higher education. Last year, shortly after the announcement of a $20 million cut to UofM’s budget, came the announcement of Tennessee Promise that offers free education to all TN residents at public community colleges. In my opinion, TN Promise is a perfect example for taking money away from high quality education (UofM, in this case), and use the extra funds to invest in low quality education (community colleges). Then this lower quality education is offered to the masses as a solution to their educational needs.

To make the high-to-low quality education transformation explicit, I remark that we at UofM are now pressured to start accepting lower level courses to our major requirements to “ease the transition of students from community colleges to our university.”

In addition to the questions of who will pay for it and the impact such a proposal will have on traditional four-year institutions, I do also wonder the impact this proposal will have specifically on historically Black colleges and universities. Recent federal changes to the Pell Grant and to student loan qualifications have been really tough on many HBCUs that largely serve an economically-insecure student body who rely on federal assistance. This proposal has the potential to financially cripple those institutions even more by transferring a big chunk of dollars into the hands of community colleges.

Hopefully, the White House can get those issues sorted before – and if – this becomes an actual program. Or else the old adage about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions might ring true…

Drawing The Fine Line Between Being A “Sugar Baby” & A Prostitute

October 2nd, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Sugar Daddies Financing


College acceptances in some ways are easier to come by than financing the education that comes with them. Despite the various financial aid/ loan packages one can sign up for, many students still fall short on payments needed for their housing or class materials. While some students turn to part-time jobs to relieve financial burdens, others decide to enter escort services.

The Atlantic reports that 44 percent of the 2.3 million women who are enlisted escorts — “sugar babies” — on the site Seeking Arrangement are in college. If the “babies” sign up to Seeking Arrangement with an .edu email address they receive free premium membership whereas male users must pay $1,200 for it. The “dating” site also claims the sexual relationships created between their “babies” and users are natural. Seeking Arrangement also upholds the illusion that its services are not prostitution despite the clear sex-for-money exchange.

Even though the relationships can get very physical, many of the sugar daddy/sugar baby relationships have an added dimension. It’s not just about physical looks, but also intelligence. It was duly noted in The Atlantic’s investigative piece, “some men on the site use it exclusively for sex, the majority want sex and something else. They want someone to come along on business trips, go to company events, and meet their friends—someone who understands and appears interested in what they have to say. Most importantly, they want someone who will help them pretend that the relationship is not a transaction.”

The “babies” interviewed by Caroline Kitchener, author of the investigative article, told her when they do not ask for their payments upfront, they receive more funds. Some of men even give the young women credit cards to make the exchange feel more personable. One woman,  named Wanitwat shared:

“I found that some, if not most, of the guys don’t want to talk about money. I suspect that’s because it kills the fantasy. They’re trying to pretend that these smart, beautiful women actually want to hang out with them.”

Though these men may try to avoid the reality of the relationships they have with their “babies,” Kitchener challenges readers and even the “babies” to break through another illusion. The “babies” may be brilliant college students trying to fund their education, that does not exempt them from the label of prostitute. Or does it?