Most of us begin college because it’s what you do. We see it as the only avenue to success; we kill ourselves to get the right grades but, as reported by the Washington Post, only 27 percent of college graduates have jobs even remotely related to their majors. The same study also found that only 62 percent of grads held jobs that require college degrees.
The Huffington Post shows that 75 percent of the $1 trillion college loan debt was accrued between 2003 and 2011. Student loans are the only debt that cannot be expunged by declaring bankruptcy; there is no choice but to pay up. What does this mean, and how was this set up?
It is not impossible to get rid of student loan debt, but it is extremely difficult to prove the three-pronged test to determine if your loans have caused you undue hardship. This is easier to prove for those with private loans that don’t have the income-driven payment plans federal loans offer. If your income is low enough, your payments towards federal loans could be as low as $0 a month. Even if you can prove that you will never be able to make enough money to make payments towards your loans, they won’t be forgiven by the government for 20-25 years.
Why have this debt held over us like this? It’s simple really, to be indebted is to be in chains, to struggle building and amassing wealth is insurance that our massive wealth inequality gets even larger. We the 90 percent will continue being at the mercy of the wealthy, so thankful for every little scrap of opportunity, we don’t question or challenge why this is the order of things.
Seeing those around us and in the media struggle with debt also gives reason to so many Americans and permanent residents to pursue careers in the military, either before the fact, to pay for college, or after college, to have our loans forgiven.
We live in a time when we are not in any official war and are unlikely to face a war on par with the large historical ones we grew up learning about, this means a couple things: there can be no draft, and, in order to ensure we in America do not face actual warfare we need to amass a huge standing army.
Military spending and technological innovation have increased exponentially to discourage any other nation from attacking us and encourage more nations to align themselves with us politically and ideologically.
In 2000, students in Serbia led and launched non-violent protests and formed a political party to overthrow the current governing body that had cracked down on academic freedoms. The protests had the effect of garnering huge international attention that led to the United States sending millions of dollars to help the students realize their goal. It worked, and a transparent democracy and rule of law was established. This student uprising also had the effect of inspiring the Arab Spring uprisings, so much so that organizers from Tunisia and Egypt flew to Serbia in order to learn from those involved in the student-led coup. They learned how they too could garner the international attention needed to overthrow the authoritarian regimes in their countries non-violently. Economic and political reform was the goal and was actually achieved in Tunisia and for a moment in Egypt when Husni Mubarak was ousted.
We as students, the 90 percent, have so much more political agency than we think. Let’s utilize it beyond making another Kardashian a billionaire. Let’s find an avenue to ensure we can all live life under our own terms.