I don’t have a heap of regrets in my life, but there are about 14 that stand out in my mind, and I pay for those bad boys every month. They’re student loans and they suck. Whenever I think I’m gonna have a buck or two to myself, here comes that trollop Sallie Mae to sop up any scraps I might have to buy shoes or partake of Red Lobster’s endless shrimp promotion. How I hate her.
Some of that debt is from undergrad, some is from grad school, but the rest is from Teen Girl’s private school education. I don’t regret sending her to a tuition-charging outfit, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be paid off in the five years she has before she strikes off to college. And that there is gonna be a whole heap of other charges and bills. So it got me to thinking: if a parent’s only option to pay for higher ed is to go the borrowed money route, who should shoulder the debt: Mom and Dad or the student?
I’m the first person in my family to going to college, so my mama had zero insight into the mystifying world of post-secondary financial aid. Everything we learned was through a fire baptism right there in the administrative offices on Lincoln University’s campus. (Shout out to LU!) Now that I’m navigating thousands of dollars in repayments for my own education, this is one thing I walked away knowing for sure, besides lots and lots about Shakespeare and grammar from an English degree that I, thank God, get to put to use: I refuse to saddle my daughter with student loans.
I mean, for one, it’s not like the child ever had a choice about going to college. I’ve been drilling it into her since she was barely old enough to talk that she was going to go. It’s been an expectation for as long as we both can remember, so it hardly seems fair to make her pay for something I planned for her to do her whole life.
Secondly, and most importantly, I learned firsthand that it is hard — hard — to be fresh out of school, looking for your first real-world job, trying to establish your life and enjoy your showroom new adulthood, and have to shell out $200, $300, $400 a month to pay back loans for an education that you may or may not be putting to good use. It’s a shock to your system to graduate and have to start paying bills. It’s almost cause for a monthly heart attack when you see what you racked up in student loans.
When Teen Girl walks across that stage and turns her tassel to the side, I want her to start with a clean slate. No Sallie Mae or federal loan witch hunters barking down her neck or astronomical balances to worry about shelling out. My mother didn’t know any better, and now, almost 10 years after I came out of school, she feels guilty about the monthly burden I bear. It wasn’t anybody’s fault; as much as I hate this saying, it is what it is. But now that we know, I don’t want my child to go through the same thing. And, in the event that she doesn’t land the string of full scholarships that I’m hoping for, I’ll sign on her behalf and take those dreaded, damned, what-did-I-even-learn-that-was-worth-this-much-money? student loans on for her.
Now, when she gets to grad school, that’s a whole other story. Homegirl’s on her own then. But for undergrad, I don’t want her to start out with a deficit before she even has a chance to live.
Will you take out loans for your kids’ education or is it their responsibility to pay after college?
Image via Images_of_Money/Flickr