Thursday, September 27, 2007

360 easy payments of $535

Did you happen to catch CBS Evening News with Katie Couric yesterday? Fine, I'm the only one that watches. Nevermind. I have a beef with what I saw. Not bullion cubes but full cow.

Let me quote the first two paragraphs in yesterday's story, Graduating Into Debt.

For accountant Alex Guzzetta, not a day goes by when he doesn't think about these numbers: $90,000 in student loan debt, $20,000 owed to the federal government and $70,000 to a private lender.

“A third of every hour I work is basically just going towards just maintaining the interest on my student loans. I'm not getting anywhere, they're not getting any lower. I'm just buying time,” he tells CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace. What the hell is wrong with this picture?

I had a long diatribe ready on college for the Pokemon generation but it's giving me heartburn. I'll get to the point of it. Is shucking your buns through college not an option anymore? Are we bypassing more affordable state schools in favor of a brand name on a diploma, relying on that to say what we are much like the brand name on a pair of jeans? Is a brand name on a diploma all the more proof that you've gotten an education than actually opening a book and studying no matter where you go? Is learning on easy credit terms really learning?

Le sigh...

What's just as bad is that our post-grad accountant doesn't realize he's news-storied himself out of work. I'd gouge a pencil in my eye before I'd let him touch my meager accounts.


  1. Geeez, like we're supposed to feel sorry for him? We have our own plates full.

    Yeah, he's no longer holding my portfolio

  2. I agree. How in the world can it cost close to $200K for an accounting degree? Accounting is offered in every college and university in the country; it's hardly an arcane specialty.

    It's just a good thing Alex didn't go into brain surgery.

  3. In most cases you can even go to a community college to pick up most of the first two years. My sons did that & it does save a lot of money. I know the state colleges are going up. When my younger one graduated from the University of Washington in June, 1996, quarterly tuition was about #1100. I think it is more like 1600 now but even four years of three quarters of that is far short of what this Alex seems to have spent. Maybe he attended a very expensive party school and it took 6 or 7 years?

  4. Disclaimer: my college education was almost completely paid for by scholarships (and what little was left by my parents). So, take my comment with the appropriately-sized boulder of salt.

    The guy seems to be implying that there is something not fair or worthy of sympathy about his situation. I'm confused. Was the college of his choice somehow unclear about how much his education was going to cost? Was he given the impression that a large percentage of accountants become millionaires within 2 years of graduating? Did he think that the loan fairy was going to make his debt magically disappear?

    I've heard sob stories like this for the better part of 10 years now. My favorite part is when the person in question says it's not his/her fault because "they" made it too easy for him/her to borrow the money. I've heard it before, and it boggles the mind.

    Sarcasm aside, my point is that the situation is entirely a product of his own choices, all of which had consequences which were clearly predictable when he made them. Welcome to the land of the free.

    The only grain of sympathy I hold is if he was brainwashed by people he trusted into believing that a $90k degree was a necessity for getting a decent job. Becky really already touched on this, but every time I hear this story, it inevitably includes the revelation that the person in question attended an expensive college. It's usually private, but there are some pretty expensive state schools, too.

    I won't say that college names don't matter at job hunting time. They do. But there's a point of diminishing returns. There are some excellent deals at state schools. Shop around, be smart, and think about your earning potential versus the debt you're going to accumulate.

    Bottom line, though... no matter what, own your decisions and the resulting consequences. There's too much legitimately bad crap that happens to too many good people through absolutely no fault or choice of their own for me to feel sorry for this guy.


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