Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I'm working my way through a master's in librarianship. It's costing me about $1,000 per credit, nearly all of which is being paid for with loans. In August, if all goes according to plan, I will have my MLS, and about $50,000 in loans, including some from undergrad.

Bicycle, if he goes to Vanderbilt, will be receiving a $27,000/year stipend, cause that's just how they roll; if he goes to Davis, I'm not exactly sure of the amount he'd be getting paid for lab work and teaching, but I'm sure it'll be sufficient. Cause he does science. (It's true that at Vanderbilt, humanities grad students are supported too, but if you think that's the point, you've missed it completely; in most places, there is much more support available to the sciences than to the humanities.)

You see where I'm going with this?

My fellow librarian students and I work our butts off, provide local institutions with free labor through internships (some of which are required), and pay out the nose for the privilege. There's so little financial support for what we do. I couldn't even buy my textbooks this semester, and, due to the economy being in the tank, there was a new $205/semester fee on my loans this year, taken out of the loan itself, so I never even saw that money (nor have I yet figured out if that will be in my loan principle when I start paying it back, which would be robbery, if you ask me, as I never actually was loaned the money). $205 is a lot to me right now. That's nearly half a month's rent, or could buy groceries for the two of us for more than a month, or about a third of my car insurance for the year. And I'm not even going to get into how hard it is to find a job around here that's worth having.

The system is bloody fucking broken. By the end of the summer, Bicycle and I will have two bachelor's and a master's between us, and $100,000 of debt. I've been out of college for two and a half years, and have made about $22,000 before taxes in that time. Holy shit. Economic talking heads go on and on about how all this debt Americans are living off of is terrible, and we have to adjust our way of living, cause this can't go on. How, I would like to know, are we non-wealthy people supposed to get an education, so we can have good jobs and contribute to society, if two bright, hard working, well educated young twenty-somethings like Bicycle and me have already amassed $100,000 of debt before even entering the professional workforce??

That debt means that, even with a good job that pays a respectable salary (good luck as a librarian, huh?), I'll have to pay $5,000 of principle, plus whatever it is in interest, a year -- a year -- if I want to pay off my student loans in the normal ten year time. If I start doing that at twenty-five, that is, in a year or so, I'll be done at thirty-five. That also means that I'll be living on a tight budget, and unable to save much money for anything until then. So, I'll be in my mid-thirties before I can start saving money to buy a house, or start socking away retirement funds. Which pretty much means I'll be working till I keel over behind the circulation counter. And this, for daring to be from a lower middle class family and wanting a higher education. Of course, I could have skipped the education, not taken out the loans, and then never had a decent job (especially because better paying jobs that can be attained without higher education are often de facto closed to most women), and worked till the day I die anyhow. At least this way I had fun in college, and will maybe have a job I don't hate. It's a good thing that I don't want kids, and neither does Bicycle, should we be together long enough to think about that, because we sure as hell wouldn't be able to afford them, or their college educations, which would only be more necessary by they time they'd come up.

1 comment:

Llencelyn said...

I don't really have much to say except, "Word." I'll admit, I say this from a place of privilege - I'm a physics undergrad, so my grad school will be paid for, essentially. My close friend in the Humanities department here will be in the same situation as you. She and I are equally smart, though our talents lie in different directions. Science isn't even getting as much funding as it needs to do good work! - basically all the money in the country is going to MOAR WEAPONS and rich people. =/ It is a sucky, sucky system.

I'll be plying teaspoons towards fixing it. I wish I had better than that, but it's something, right?