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Like many of you who have been to college, we have mounds of student loan debt.  I know that my heart sunk the first time I signed an MPN (master promissory note); my wife cried when she first signed hers.  In fact, most of the $160k+ that we have in debt is from going to college.  Mr. Obama proposed a change in the student loan program on two fronts: 1) better educate incoming college students as to the costs of college and 2) make loan consolidation payments comprise only 10% of one’s income.  The Republicans countered with a proposal of their own: slow the growth of tuition.  Hear about my thoughts after the break…

Fiscally, I tend to be conservative in my outlook, but this time I believe a blend of both the President’s and the Republican’s plans are in order.  I make no bones about it when I say that tuition costs are out of control.  I do not know what market forces specifically are accounting for this ballooning, but I know that there are many out there with similar stories to me.  I went to college, worked hard to graduate ASAP (I did undergrad in 3 years and my masters in 2), and became a productive member of society.  The job I’m in now isn’t in my field, not even remotely related, but these schools promised an education not a job, necessarily.  No doubt exists that I will eventually take a job in my specialization, but the economy is tough right now and I’m thankful to have any job.

With that being said, I did not know how much debt I would incur by enrolling in college at first.  I closed my eyes and signed the MPN, knowing that I would be on the first plane back to Connecticut if I didn’t get validated by my financial aid office (n.b. Validation = account balance is $0).  Five years later, I walked out with nearly $80k of student loan debt with that thinking.  Now I see friends who are getting houses, driving non-rust-bucket cars, and investing in their retirement, to name a few, and I am doing none of those things.  In a $4000 a month budget, we are paying nearly $1350 of that to student loan companies between the both of us, or about 34% of our monthly income.  Any sort of relief from Mr. Obama would be welcome, but he is not obliged to do so since it is a matter of personal responsibility for us to take care of this debt.

I hate debt, but student loan debt is one of the most nefarious of them all.  You can not discharge it in a bankruptcy, the IRS can garnish your wages and/or Social Security checks to recoup it, and even after it has defaulted and ruined your credit score they will hound you until you die to collect it.  There is no outrunning the Feds on this issue; they make you a veritable outlaw in your own home.  So, if Vito makes you “an offer you can’t refuse”, I recommend you run, not walk, the other way, otherwise he might just break your kneecaps.

Mr. Obama, should you ever read my blog, the chances of which are slim, I am praying for you and I am grateful for your service to my nation.  I may disagree with you on many points, but thank you for taking on the 100-pound gorilla in the room.

~Seth

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