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What $50,000 Loan Forgiveness Would Look Like


Essential Worker Zh43dfC

It appears that Biden’s thinking of forgiving $50,000 of everyone’s student loan debt. A friend calls me with the news last week when I’m driving home from work. I don’t run off the road from excitement.

My heart does not leap for joy. My student loan debt has hit an even number this year, so it’s easy for me to do the math inside my head. I deduct 50 grand from what I owe, pencil in the new balance and think, okay.


What’s for supper?

It is raining. It’s a Thursday. Thursdays are good because teachers get to wear jeans every Friday. I’ve been back inside a classroom since August. By 3:30 every day, teachers are pretty much shut down in the emotion department.

Pretty much in survival mode.

My student loan turns 31 years old this month. My student loan and me – it’s been a long and rocky road. We’ve lasted longer than some marriages. Some business ventures. I’m not even sure what my life would look like without it anymore.

There’ve been wild and desperate hopes across the years that I would be able to pay it off. That was back when I just owed $100,000. A while ago. There’ve been regrets that I had to make it in the first place. Wishes that someone would have thought it a bad business venture to loan an English major who was planning on being a teacher and what is worse – a writer – that kind of money. There has been anger. Fear. There has been some sorrow.

The worst part was that time I went into default. That was pretty awful. Although, if we were sitting here on my couch, just you and me, a couple of drinks, I could make you laugh. I could make it a warm and funny story.

Because at the end of the day, it’s just money.

Sometimes mornings, before daylight, when I’m commuting to work, I have bright ideas for paying my student loan off. There are YouTubers earning six figures. Maybe I could live in a camper for a while? Get on a tiny house show?

A funny story. One summer almost 20 years ago when things were not going well for me in the house or the money department, I ended up crashing one night at the house of my friends who’d gone off to their other house in another country.

Their house sitter was this guy I knew from around town. Back in his day, he’d partied pretty hard. But by this time, he was all kindness and brotherly. He made me a steak. I told him I owed the government one hundred thousand dollars.

I got a little teary because I’d had one glass of wine too much.

He laughed and said, If it makes you feel any better, I’ve snorted that much coke up my nose. I have to say – that night was a real turning point for me. Someone having the guts to admit something like that gave me real hope.

You have to trust me when I say that, for me, making student loans was unavoidable. The government wanting me to pay them back, understandable. At the end of a long day inside a pandemic classroom and 31 years, it’s just numbers on my Credit Karma.

It’s just money.

And, I cannot pay back the money I borrowed to get a degree to do the thing I do by doing the thing I do for money – teaching high school. So you would have to be better at math than I am to figure out the solution to this problem.

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Essential Worker Zh43dfC has agreed to write a series of stories under anonymity on the evolution of a student loan that spiraled into the six figures.

All My Money’s Gone ::: Dan Reeder

Money Fall Out The Sky ::: Cool It Reba

It’s Only Money, It’ll Go Away ::: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson

Take The Money And Run ::: Steve Miller Band

Everybody’s Going For The Money ::: Spider John Koerner

Loan Me A Dime ::: Duane Allman & Boz Scaggs

All My Money Gone ::: Johnny Young

School’s Out ::: Alice Cooper

Money Jungle ::: Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach