New Year, Renewed Focus on Solving Student Debt
What a crazy year, huh? The year 2018 was rife with what can only be described as tumult – on a political, social, and personal level. And yet, there is much to be hopeful for as we enter the new year, especially on the frontlines of the battle against the student loan debt crisis. This past year, we saw a spark in the national dialogue about fresh ideas and solutions to help manage this national dilemma. In politics, we saw a significant turn in the tide with the arrival of the progressive voice. Figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar helped catapult the national dialogue about solutions to social problems in a whole new direction.
A spark in the dialogue
Consider Ocasio-Cortez’ Tweet from May 3, 2018: “What would happen if we pursued Student Loan Cancellation on a Federal level? What would that look like? How do we do it?” How indeed? Then, on May 15, she Tweeted: “For the cost of the GOP’s tax bill, we could forgive ALL the student loan debt in the United States.” Whether you agree with these politics or not, isn’t it galvanizing to hear this topic being openly discussed and debated on the national level?
After all, you’re here on this site for a reason. Presumably, you or someone you know has a vested interest in continuing the dialogue to find solutions to the student loan debt crisis. We all have this interest at heart because we are all affected by student loan debt. We’ve seen the idiosyncratically devastating effects that this type of loan debt has on people – particularly employees in the workplace. It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to suggest that the financial, psychological, and physical well-being of entire generations of debtors is dependent on the continuation of this dialogue and the search for answers.
The search for solutions
A 2018 poll of more than 1,000 adults by Politico and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals that approximately 87% of Democrats and 61% of Republicans think that it would be “extremely important” for Congress to find ways to decrease student debt. As the 2020 elections draw nearer, this will be an issue that cannot be ignored any longer (at least not if candidates for office hope to speak to the hearts of the American public). To not be involved in the conversation is to be out of touch with society as a whole. To not be involved is to not care.
One key development in 2018 was the assumption of the role by employers of debt partner to their employees. Programs like the student loan repayment assistance program have made it so that employers around the United States are beginning to help their employees find solutions debt problems. They are investing in their employees’ financial futures and overall well-being.
Meanwhile, student debt continues to climb, ensuring that the next generation of the workforce has the same stresses as their predecessors. Yet, still, there is no help from Congress in the way of making loan debt contributions by employers to their employees tax-favorable.
A long road ahead
Look, I’m not going to mince words: the situation is dire. When I started writing for this blog, the figure that everyone was citing and throwing around was $1.4 trillion dollars. That’s how much outstanding student debt we all had. Now, according to the Federal Reserve, in 2018 Q1, that figure reached $1.52 trillion. The number just keeps climbing.
Though relief has yet to be found, there is still a sense of hope. That’s really where we leave off in 2018 and begin in 2019. Hope.
Hopefulness and inspiration
Wasn’t it awe-inspiring to see the Parkland school shooting survivors raise their voice and call for action? Forget about politics for now. Wasn’t it amazing to see a bunch of kids stand up for what they believe in? How about the #MeToo Movement, which also saw its rise in 2018? as we uncovered the horrors of male predation on women, wasn’t it encouraging to see so many victims speak out?
What we saw in 2018 was a culmination of grievances and social injustices. People became passionate about their political ideologies and took action with a conviction that was never there before. The dialogue opened up among us all, and we all had something to say. What we are seeing now is the youth generation challenging the status quo and trying to find solutions to old problems by thinking outside the box. They are asking tough questions and challenging long-held assumptions about the way things ought to be.
Shaping the future
This goes for student loan debt, as well. Who said that an employer can’t be invested in their employees’ futures? In this job seekers’ market, don’t we all have the power to make our demands for solutions known? By valuing the student loan debt assistance provided by companies through a benefits package, job seekers can help shift the entire market. They already are.
That’s where all of this is headed: people are becoming spokesmen for their own causes. They can’t afford to stay silent. Employees are letting their employers know about the new benefits program. They are advocating for it and thus becoming active participants in that shaping of the future.
I’m a 32-year-old writer based out of San Antonio, Texas, with my own mountain of student loan debt to conquer. When I’m not working, I’m either out for a run on the trails or chilling at home with my rescue dog, Vincent (for Van Gogh, my favorite painter). I like to eat (a lot), read (I’m a real horror junkie, with Stephen King topping my list of favorite writers), watch movies (Titanic – yes, Titanic – is the be-all and end-all for me), drink wine (red only, please), travel (Italy has my heart and always will), collect crystals, meditate, and read tarot cards. Perpetually single, but a softie deep down, I try to stay true to my hippie heart and find the good in every person and situation. I remain curious and open to learning new things (except for math which, I am convinced, will always be my downfall). If I can answer any questions about my work here on student loan debt and repayment assistance programs, feel free to shoot me an email. I don’t bite (usually). [email protected]
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