Student loan debt has never been as high as it is now. With 45 million Americans struggling to pay back debt from their days in college – amounting to more than $1.49 trillion owed to creditors – recent grads and professionals are being set up to fail. Not only do recent grads have to sacrifice in order to pay the minimum payments on their loans, but they also have to find a job where they earn enough money to even make payments – as well as pay for the basic necessities of adult life like food and shelter.
In this era, more than ever before in America, adult children are living with their parents because they are simply unable to afford to live. And as more people come forward to speak about the crippling debt they face, Senator Elizabeth Warren has made a broad promise to help people deal with student loan debt and remove it as a problem altogether.
Although some people believe that these students made a bad decision, the people going through this era of economic hardship tell a different story. In a series of interviews with CNN, those straddled with tens of thousands of dollars (and hundreds of thousands of dollars in some case) of student loan debt believe that the system set them up to fail.
Amber Deel is one of these people. She has amassed more than $100,000 in student debt. Because she has so much money that she owes to her creditors, she has little hope for her future. She’ll be paying back a virtual mortgage for many, many years if she is able to find a job that pays her well enough to do so.
Deel’s grandmother raised her in a small Virginia town called Clintwood. Money was always tight, so Deel understands what it means to live on a budget. But when guidance counselors recommended her to attend an expensive private college, she listened to their advice and took out tens of thousands of dollars of loans to pay for school. She figured that when she graduated, she’d find a job that could help her pay back her student loans – she was wrong.
“That’s what you had to do to get out of poverty,” Deel said. “That’s what you had to do to get out of the region and find a good job and have a good life.”
But this was a lie. Instead of preparing her for a financially successful life, student loans have trapped her in poverty for even longer.
Although she is qualified to be a college history professor, no one is hiring for that job. Now she works at a health insurance company as a customer service rep. It pays the bills and offers her health insurance. But she hardly has any money coming in since her loans are so large and cannot even think about starting a family or buying a house.
“My whole future’s screwed up because I have to take whatever job I can find instead of finding one that I actually want to pursue,” she admitted.
If she knew the truth about student loans, she would have done things differently. That’s why she is in favor of a president who wants to change the way things are.