Student loan debt is a huge problem in this country that impacting a lot of people. But should people who took out these loans be forgiven? Or should they have to pay them back like they promised?

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: Today I want to talk about something that has been talked about by a lot of politicians over the last few years, and it kind of seems to be one of those things that they talk about when they wanna get elected and then it kind of falls by the wayside and then they bring it up again. And it’s like this recurring cycle that makes people really angry and it is canceling student debt. And this one is such a controversial one with a lot of different viewpoints. And I actually understand several different points of view on this. And, you know, I have my personal, perspective, which is that I really tried hard not to go into debt for college and did all sorts of, you know, inconvenient things to make sure that didn’t happen. But also I was really fortunate that my parents really impressed that into me from a young age that was important to them. They dealt with a ton of student debt and I got to hear all their stories about how hard it was to pay it off. So it was something that was really important to me from a young age. But obviously, I understand that not everyone has had that same experience. And when you have, you know, teachers and public schools and colleges all saying, oh, we’ll just take out the debt, it’s no big deal to, you know, literal 17 and 18-year-olds. It kind of doesn’t make a lot of sense that, that you would be mad at the kids necessarily. And it’s, you know, it’s, again, it’s something where I think there are a lot of different kinda hot takes on this issue. But at the end of the day, you know, my perspective would be the government caused this problem. The government caused it by getting super invested and causing this huge bubble in the cost of college. And, you know, it’s, we’re in this bad situation now where all of these people can’t pay back this debt. And it was, you know, it was a bad investment from the start. It’s just, it’s a disaster. And I think there’s no good solution because it was this, this horrible problem that was created by the government. So we’re kind of between a rock and a hard place. Yep. Brittany, do you have anything on this that comes to mind with student debt stuff?

Brittany: Oh, I got a lot to say. It’s an interesting thing.

Emma: Let’s hear it.

Brittany: I had, you know, kind of an opposite experience of you. So I had a lot of kids in my family and just full transparency, my parents were not good with money. They just weren’t good at saving. They weren’t good at even spending it well. So I was never taught anything about financial literacy, meaning like how to budget and how to do finances. they also did not talk about, you know, they wanted us to go to college, but there was no help in it. Basically, when I was 17, I was like, all right, good luck figuring out what you wanna do. So there was no guidance or anything and it didn’t even think to me that I should have that guidance. Cuz when you grow up and you don’t know anything outside of your family, you don’t really realize what other people know. So that was just the norm to me. So it was never, my parents never helped me apply to college. They never helped me think of what college costs. They I did not know anything. Everything I did was on my own. And so when I did go to school, I was able to get Pell Grants, which is, that’s also free for the government. Yeah. But you don’t have to pay it back. So I got that. But then I also got student loans, which you have to remember. So at this time, it was like, you need a computer to go to school. Right. Okay, well how am I gonna get a computer? I don’t have any money to get a computer. You know, I’m, I’m making $7 an hour, and now I have to go to school cause I was trying to take 18 credits. And so the student loan officers, so the people at the school, they don’t even tell you the problem with doing this. They just tell you all the money you can get. And when you are 18 years old and you are being told, oh my goodness, you’re gonna get thousands of dollars that you can use. Especially if you’re an 18-year-old who’s never learned to deal with money. This is very appealing. And there are a lot of people, you know, especially people who I agree with on most things that say you signed the contract that you’re gonna pay this back, you should pay it back. And I absolutely agree with that. But I do think there’s one really interesting angle and I’ll play, you know, devil’s advocate and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. And this is actually not a very like libertarian stance. This is where I have a unique stance and you do not have to agree with me. This is just from, you know, my personal experience. But, we talk about the age of consent a lot and that means like, what age are you officially an adult and can you say, I consent, meaning I agree to these things? Now one thing that a lot of libertarians, a lot of them, we talk about is that it’s so silly. The government says 18 is a magical number the second you turn 18, you can make all these adult decisions. So, you know, for some people they reach a point where they can make their own decisions and they can consent way before 18. I think there’s a lot of 15-year-olds, you know, that might be mature enough to make an important financial decision like that. But having said that, I think there’s a lot of people 18 or even early twenties or maybe older that are there really aren’t, you know, developed enough, maybe early thirties as a stretch. But for me, at 18 I did not know what I was doing and I did not have any, I was never exposed to any beliefs like limited government and the things we talk about here. I wish I would’ve had this podcast. So I didn’t know and I was told to take out all this money and I really didn’t understand what I was doing and the school didn’t do a good job. But we’re in a very unique position because I’ve gotten myself into a position where I will never be able to buy a house. I will never be able to do the things that would help me be financially stable. Now, during the pandemic, they paused student loans and I was actually able to pay off all my debt for the first time credit card debt, which was huge for me. And I was able to start saving money. Yeah. I had never had a savings account before and I was 35 years old. So there was a lot of things that I was able to do because of that and that was great. Now, I don’t wanna say, but you know, I think everyone’s loan should be forgiven and everything’s gonna be great. It’s not because they’re still gonna give out student loans. So if this is really gonna work, if they’re gonna cancel student loans, then they need to cancel the entire student loan program. Everything needs to be canceled because you can’t just cancel it and keep giving out money. Ideally. Like if totally if this were my ideal world and I could propose what the solution is, I think, cuz right now they do something called income-driven repayment. That means you pay a percentage of what you make, but that doesn’t keep into consideration all your bills or other things you have to pay for if you have like a medical emergency. So ideally, and again, I’m not saying this is the libertarian view, I’m just giving you. My thoughts on this and you, I’m sure you’ll disagree with me, but I would love to see them make monthly payments more manageable. You know, like, maybe, you know, you will never have to pay above this, but keep paying them. If that were the case, I would be completely okay. But when you don’t make a ton of money and they’re having you pay a thousand dollars a month and you have to remember that a thousand dollars a month isn’t going very far in the loans. It just, we’ve gotten ourselves into a situation where it’s bad for everybody. But I definitely understand people that say, you know, oh you promised to pay it back, you should pay it back. So it’s a really complicated and really hard issue to tackle. Totally. But I think the main thing is if we’re gonna forgive them, you’ve gotta cancel the whole program. You can’t keep giving ’em out.

Emma: Yeah. You’re so right. I think too, like there is an argument to be made that these loans shouldn’t have been given in the first place. Yeah, absolutely. And it was unfair and even predatory that they were given out like candy to kids who really, like the only thing you’re hearing from people in your school, a lot of us from our parents was just go to college no matter what. As long as you get a degree.

Brittany: You’ll have to do whatever need to do. Yeah.

Emma: Yeah. Do whatever you need to do to get a college degree. And you know, I, to be totally honest, like here’s a huge reason why I didn’t go into debt was because the government saw how much money my parents made and said, your parents are in an income bracket to where they will be able to pay for your college. So we’re not going to even offer you not even just grants, but we’re not gonna offer you loans. So they actually wouldn’t offer to even lend me the money and my parents did not pay for my college. They gave me a pretty small amount of money and said, here’s what we can give you think of it like a scholarship and make it go as far as you can. But other than that you’ve gotta figure it out. And we are not gonna co-sign on a loan. And that was a big problem because, you know, to qualify for any kind of debt, what 18-year-old is able to qualify for, you know, a hundred thousand dollars loan if it’s not when.

Brittany: They have nothing, they have no income, they have no, yeah. It’s crazy.

Emma: Exactly. No credit history or anything like that. And so I tried to actually apply cuz I really wanted to go to a nice college. I got into a couple of schools I really wanted to, and I tried to qualify for these private loans, but without my parents co-signing, I was not able to get the loans and I couldn’t afford to go. So it was a hard time in my life to deal with and I was so mad at my parents and looking back, I think they made the right call and if I weren’t in their shoes, you know, I might do the same thing or something similar. Cuz it was a huge lesson for me in learning like, you know, oh, I don’t have any net worth. I’m not earning any money. Like what business is gonna lend me something? But I think like that is kind of where my perspective comes from on all of this. Where it’s like, dang, like I actually tried to take out loans and I feel really you couldn’t fortunate that it didn’t work out. But I, really do feel for, cuz if I had been offered, you know, all of the loans I needed from the government, I would’ve taken them, I totally would’ve done it. Like, I would’ve been all over that and been like, great, I’m off to this college that I really wanted to go to. I’m gonna go have a great four years and then get a good job and pay it all back super quickly. Right. Like, I really sympathize with people who did make that decision because it’s all that we were told and basically everyone was just kind of, you know, pushed into doing it and it was like this, this real problem. And like you said, Brittany, unless the government actually stops doing that, it won’t matter whether they cancel the loans or not. Like obviously it will matter to a lot of people who, you know, want that relief from their loans. That’s not what I’m saying. It won’t matter in the long run because, you know, in 20 years there’s gonna be just as many people, if not more, who are dealing with the same problem and they’re just gonna have to do it again. So it’s, I think the real problem here and like the real takeaway should be that, you know, the government should never have gotten into this anyway. And when they subsidize college and they come in and say, Hey, whatever university, no matter what you charge your students to attend, we will make sure that they have the money to pay for it. Of course, the university’s not gonna compete with the university down the street and say, how can we lower our prices? They are gonna jack up the cost of attendance as much as they can because it’s, it’s money that they basically are guaranteed. Yep. So the real problem and the real corruption is with the government basically just saying here, colleges, here’s a blank check and we’re not gonna pay it. The students are gonna pay it and they don’t even realize how much interest they’ll have to pay and which is basically extra money that you pay just because you borrowed it, you know, however many years ago. So, it’s a tricky one and I know that there are a lot of people who really struggle with debt and I am not mad at them for the decisions that they made. I’m mad at the government for putting us all in this position.

Brittany: Yes, exactly.

Emma: So, that would be kind of my closing message. I don’t know if you have any other thoughts, Brittany, before we wrap up.

Brittany: I went on a whole rant. So that’s it for me.

Emma: Yes, awesome. Well, we will wrap it up here today guys. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to you all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.