Gritty Details

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tonight's Poet Corner: Introspection

Whew! This has been a rather long month, but the end of March is here. Arden and I just got back from seeing Neil Gaiman (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) and getting to hear him read and answer questions. Seeing that Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, this was an absolute treat - and a late birthday present for the wifey!

So I know that I teased you guys a little bit regarding some serious updates as to what's happening in my life - all good updates, definitely. Today, I can reveal one of those updates. Now, let me begin by saying that I absolutely love my parents, and one thing I always am grateful for is the fact that they taught me how to be independent both career-wise and financially. My mom and dad do not operate like a charity; yes, they've helped my siblings and me out in the past when things got tough, as parents are wont to do, but they never held our hands. My brother, sister, and I were able to overcome a lot of obstacles and work hard to get to where we are now: Stable jobs, stable living situations, stable financial management, and even stable relationships. My parents wanted to be mentors to us, not babysitters, and I can't thank them enough for that.

What some of you probably already know is that I was one of the lucky ones when it came to the size of my students loan debt after finishing undergraduate university. While many of my friends have debts from school that can go all the way up to six digits, I managed to escape with about twenty-two thousand dollars worth of student loans. Of course, the fact that twenty-two grand is not seen as a large student loan is pretty telling and sort of horrifying, but that's another rant for another time. Anyway, after nearly six years of managing loan payments - which included receiving an educational award from AmeriCorps, which helped me pay off smaller state loans, and deferring Department of Education loans after returning to school for my teaching credential - I was able to reduce my debt from twenty-two thousand to almost eleven thousand.

Now, I could manage to pay off the rest of the loan, even if it takes another seven to ten years; I make enough money at my job to be able to pay rent, my credit card bill, and at least the minimum payment to my student loan company. I never asked my parents for a hand-out regarding this (though I did of course joke about getting my loans paid off as a birthday or Christmas present multiple times - sorry, Mom and Dad), and I wanted to demonstrate to them that I was capable of managing my finances moving forward as an adult.

Well, as it turns out, I don't have to do that anymore. My parents decided, out of sheer generosity, to pay off the rest of my student loans. Their reason? They want my wife and me to be able to navigate the housing and rental market without worrying about too much extra debt.

When I got the call from my father, I was floored. I reminded him that my mom and he didn't have to do this - I was fine without their assistance. "I want to make sure you want to do this," I told them, "not because you think you have to." But this was a decision they made based on their own desires to support me. And of course, my dad got the opportunity to joke that should Mom and he end up in dire straits...well, then I have to financially help them! Fair enough.

I bring this all up not just because I wanted to thank my parents for their kindness and share some positive news, but also because I want to, predictably, make a statement. I am one of the fortunate few when it comes to receiving support for my student loans; many others don't get off scot-free like that. Several friends and loved ones I know continue to struggle under the weight of student loan debt after universities inflated their tuition fees and made education that much less accessible. I know the current administration is not interested in making student loan forgiveness easier; in fact, our lovely Secretary of Education made it harder to get away from predatory loan companies hellbent on getting their fortune's worth. I urge everyone to get involved when it comes to reducing the price of education and assisting those who are underwater simply due to wanting to expand their career opportunities. I don't have a particular website you can go to, but a lot of organizations are fighting for the rights of students and graduates.

Anyway, that's all I've got. Here's hoping for a relaxing couple of days on my end. I hope everyone else has a great night and a great weekend.

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