I would really like to see a comments section to the article on student loan debt. This is a huge problem! (See June 2, 2014, Hoard's Dairyman Intel article "Students are bankrolling public colleges.")
I am not complaining because I have to pay my loans back, since I know that they are my responsibility . . . I chose to go to school. But when colleges and universities charge what they do for education, it makes it hard for anyone to pay them back.
I am paying my bill, a huge bill to the tune of $108,000 before interest because I chose to go to school to receive a B.S. and two M.S. degrees in dairy management, reproductive physiology, and ruminant nutrition. Why??? Because I love working for and with farmers. My debt might be high for some and maybe average for others, but it is because I went to school and had to pull additional loans to live while going to land-grant universities for undergrad and graduate school. Why? Because many schools pay their graduate students well below the poverty level for everything they do to bring recognition to that school. As a graduate student you are worked like a mule, long hours, hard labor, and paid dirt-cheap!!
I now represent one of two dairy extension agents in the entire state of Virginia. Which means myself and the other agent cover phone calls, questions, and farm visits for dairy farms all across the state, and we are paid the same amount of money as an extension agent that covers one (1) county. I believe one should be paid based on the quality of work you do and the amount of work accomplished.
As an extension agent, I am considered to be in a position of public service, where if you read the tiny fine print on the federal government website applies for public loan forgiveness after 10 years. It took me several months to find this information since the federal government doesn't like to share this little tidbit. Only catch is they extend your payment out to 25 years. If you make any mistakes during the 10 years enrolled in the loan forgiveness, miss a payment, default, ask for forbearance, anything, I mean anything, you cannot get the forgiveness.
Also, you have to be on the income-based repayment plan in which the Good Ole Federal government looks at how much money you make every year, before taxes and deductions, and says, "Well, let's just up her bill $300 on top of what she already pays." They look at how many people are in your household, but that doesn't really change anything since they don't care if you have two young kids in daycare which costs almost $1,000 a month. That Good Ole Federal government doesn't care one bit. They would rather you pay them first. They do not care if you need a roof over your head, food, or anything for that matter, just as long as they get their money! If you call to get help to bring your loan payment down to where you can afford to live, they will kick you out of the loan forgiveness plan and will not extend it out in years anymore. I know for a fact that they extended a friend of mine out to 35 years under income-based, but she couldn't qualify for loan forgiveness they told her.
So, no matter what I or anyone else does, I will be paying my student loans when my kids will be able to start college. How does that help anyone?
- Cynthia Martel, Virginia