Poor and in Debt: How to Break the Cycle

As someone from a seriously disadvantaged background, I never believed I would be accepted into a college, let alone be able to pay for it…

Poor and in Debt: How to Break the Cycle
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

As someone from a seriously disadvantaged background, I never believed I would be accepted into a college, let alone be able to pay for it. I studied hard at my local community college but, between the ever-increasing costs of living, and the onset of a serious chronic autoimmune condition, I felt certain that my dreams of attaining higher education would ultimately crumble. A kid with a background of homelessness doesn’t have much to look forward to in a society that only provides help in the form of poverty traps.

But I persevered. I fought tooth and nail to follow my passions, to live my version of the American dream. I was accepted into college, where I excelled, and I eventually went on to pursue and complete a graduate degree in my field. But, to accomplish all this, I was forced to take on massive student loans.

Given my intermittent health, I soon found it impossible to find work within my field that could offer me the top-quality healthcare I needed, keep a roof over my head, and pay off my student loans. Forget the dream of finding a job with a high enough starting wage to allow me to live a wholesome life, all the jobs I found demanded that I suffer grueling conditions in exchange for a pittance. And still, hovering over me, the threat of terrible consequences should I fail to pay off my loans — loans which continued to rise at an incredible rate, far faster than I could have paid them off.

I’ve been stuck with part-time work ever since, struggling to balance my health issues with my desire to start a family, to own a home, and to lead a fulfilling life as a member of my community. These loans have saddled me with an unbearable anxiety and sense of hopelessness that claws at me every day.

I am so glad to know that the current forgiveness program has helped so many, but there are even more who, like me, will find the impact on their loans negligible at best. And there will be so many others, just starting out on their education, who are struggling to overcome impoverished or marginalized backgrounds, who will not see the benefit of the current cancellation at all.

We’ve proved that we can move forward with cancellation. This proves that we, as a country, believe in the importance of education, in the worth of self-betterment, and in the value provided to the whole society through the furnishment of free education. And, there is now clear legal precedent for the total cancellation of these loans. There is no reason why these loans should not be completely cancelled, across the board. No reason why any future generations should be saddled with the same burden.

It’s time that all educational debts be cancelled, easily and without limitation, as a sign of our country’s commitment to the worth of education, and out of respect for all those who have clawed their way out of scarcity for a chance to make the world a better place than it was before.

Hi there! I’m Odin Halvorson, a librarian, independent scholar, film fanatic, fiction author, and tech enthusiast. If you like my work and want to support me, please consider becoming a paid subscriber for as little as $2.50 a month!

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