Student loan repayment is a hot discussion, with politicians like Mick Mulvaney talking about it being an issue of morality and borrowers struggling to stay afloat. Mulvaney and others may talk about how getting into trouble with student loan debt is a personal choice, but many borrowers, who are the ones struggling with the problem directly, understand that calling it a choice is downplaying the issue in a cruel way. Ameritech Financial, a document preparation service company that helps borrowers apply for federal repayment programs, says that discrediting different attempts to aid student loan borrowers likely does more harm than good. Especially to those borrowers who take their words to heart.
It’s not uncommon for columnists to say that borrowers’ problems are their own fault; that they should have known better than to take out loans that they couldn’t handle and that it was their choice to go to an expensive college to obtain a degree that didn’t have high payouts in the end. Saying things like that, though, places a false higher value on educations like STEM-based careers, because they pay more, and doesn’t account for the fact that most people don’t have several thousand to spend a semester, seeing as the average cost for a year of in-state schooling is over $9,000. Saying that dismisses the issue that other educations are needed in society, as well, simply because there’s a current trend to pay them better.
“Student loan repayment isn’t a clear-cut path for any borrower, even if some people like to say it’s straightforward,” said Tom Knickerbocker, Executive Vice President of Ameritech Financial. Also being completely ignored by those who say others should have known better is life’s habit of throwing pitfalls beneath people’s feet. Even if someone was on track to complete college with a high-paying job to handle their high amount of student loan debt, doesn’t mean it will happen. A sudden injury, school closure or any number of things could spring up and blindside a borrower.
Telling employers that their attempt to help persuade potential employees to their doors by offering student loan repayment is a bad idea because it rewards bad behavior is like saying someone shouldn’t own a car if they can’t afford to replace it after a car accident. A car is necessary for many people to commute to and from work and to handle their daily needs, and telling someone they should have learned to just take a bus instead doesn’t factor in the likelihood that they had already thought of that but it didn’t work for them. Several generations now have grown up being told that a college education is necessary, but the prices for that necessity have skyrocketed. Yes, employers should be paying fair wages to their employees, but a problem can have multiple ways to solve it, rather than relying on one single solution.
Ameritech Financial understands that there needs to be a larger-scale solution than employers offering their assistance with loan repayment, but it’s a step in the direction towards fixing the student loan crisis. Large-scale reform will be needed, but bashing those in trouble and those attempting to help them won’t help. Another option for struggling student loan borrowers is to apply for federal income-driven repayment programs that can potentially lower monthly payments and get borrowers on track for student loan forgiveness after 20-25 years of being in the program. Ameritech Financial can help qualified borrowers through the application process and the yearly recertification. “We believe student loan repayment shouldn’t be a struggle and for too many people, it is. That’s why we strive to help our clients as best we can and remain an active student loan advocate,” said Knickerbocker.
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