Parents, Paying for College, and Shame Over Debt

In the complicated set of values and beliefs that is the American Dream, I find so many contradictions in this article on parents unable to cover loans that they took out to pay for the children’s college.   An excerpt:

There are record numbers of student borrowers in financial distress, according to federal data. But millions of parents who have taken out loans to pay for their children’s college education make up a less visible generation in debt. For the most part, these parents did well enough through midlife to take on sizable loans, but some have since fallen on tough times because of the recession, health problems, job loss or lives that took a sudden hard turn.

And unlike the angry students who have recently taken to the streets to protest their indebtedness, most of these parents are too ashamed to draw attention to themselves.

These parents were doing exactly what good parents are supposed to do: Make it possible for their children to attend college.   They played the odds that the things that they believed that they had earned were theirs to keep.  And they lost.

I wonder if it would be easier to get beyond the political impasse over economic policies in this country if  those who have played by the rules — and lost — start feeling outrage instead of shame.


2 thoughts on “Parents, Paying for College, and Shame Over Debt

  1. springbyker November 12, 2012 / 8:19 am

    This is a huge problem in the United States — I suppose it stems from our cult of the individual. In so many other countries in the world, people realize that corporate-government policies and elites make life difficult for those of us who aren’t wealthy, and citizens take to the streets. So many times when I’ve participated in demonstrations, pickets, or simple informational leafletting, USians act as if my friends/ compatriots and I are weird, rabid commies. Never mind that we have a national constitution guaranteeing the freedom to assemble, speak, etc. This is one of the reasons I find Latin America so much more interesting and ALIVE than the US.

    • janevangalen November 12, 2012 / 9:29 am

      Thanks for reading @Springbyker. It’s been so interesting teaching about inequality in the US these past few years while the news is filled with images of citizens in other countries taking to the streets. It’s a complex ideology we’ve created, that full realization of the American Dream is just around the corner, if only we stay the course.

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