I Paid $100,000, and All I Got Was This Lousy Degree

Two recent New York Times articles try mightily to elicit sympathy for borrowers whose bad financial decisions turned out badly.

"Your Money" columnist Ron Lieber asks us to feel the pain of Cortney Munna, a 26-year-old NYU graduate who owes $100,000 for "an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women's studies" that is not quite as lucrative as she expected. Munna "makes $22 an hour working for a photographer" in San Francisco (one of the most expensive cities in the country) and dreads the thought of "slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back," which she says "feels wrong to me." To his credit, Lieber assigns some responsibility for this state of affairs to Munna and her mother, who says:

All I could see was college, and a good college and how proud I was of her. All we needed to do was get this education and get the good job. This is the thing that eats away at me, the naïveté on my part.

But Lieber also wants to blame Citibank (featured in a photo accompanying the column) for "handing over $40,000 to an undergraduate who had already amassed debt well into the five figures." That may turn out to have been a bad business decision, but is it a bank's job to tell a loan applicant what her priorities should be? Citibank made it possible for Munna to realize her dream of attending the college of her choice instead of various less expensive options, and Lieber is saying, in effect, that it should have told her to aim lower. Likewise, he faults NYU's financial aid office for not giving Munna better advice, which would have meant suggesting that she attend a different, cheaper school. Not only is it unrealistic to expect a college to send away a student who is ready to pay full tuition, but at the time Munna and her mother probably would have resented the suggestion.

While Munna is paying the price for her financial folly, the borrowers featured in a story on the front page of Monday's Times have decided that gradually paying off one's debts is for suckers. Alex Pemberton and Susan Reboyras are taking advantage of the long delay between foreclosure and eviction in Florida to live "rent free" in St. Petersburg while spending the money that would have gone toward their mortgage on steak dinners, casino trips, and excursions in their "gas-guzzling airboat." According to the Times, this couple represents a trend:

A growing number of the people whose homes are in foreclosure are refusing to slink away in shame. They are fashioning a sort of homemade mortgage modification, one that brings their payments all the way down to zero. They use the money they save to get back on their feet or just get by.

"Instead of the house dragging us down, it's become a life raft," says Pemberton. "It’s really been a blessing." He and his wife rationalize defaulting on the debt by citing the mortgage company's stupidity in lending them money (emphasis added):

"We could pay the mortgage company way more than the house is worth and starve to death," said Mr. Pemberton, 43. "Or we could pay ourselves so our business could sustain us and people who work for us over a long period of time. It may sound very horrible, but it comes down to a self-preservation thing."

They used the $1,837 a month that they were not paying their lender to publicize A Plus Restorations [a business that restores pest-plagued attics], first with print ads, then local television. Word apparently got around, because the business is recovering.

The couple owe $280,000 on the house, where they live with Ms. Reboyras's two daughters, their two dogs and a very round pet raccoon named Roxanne. The house is worth less than half that amount—which they say would be their starting point in future negotiations with their lender.

"If they took the house from us, that's all they would end up getting for it anyway," said Ms. Reboyras, 46.

One reason the house is worth so much less than the debt is because of the real estate crash. But the couple also refinanced at the height of the market, taking out cash to buy a truck they used as a contest prize for their hired animal trappers.

It was a stupid move by their lender, according to Mr. Pemberton. "They went outside their own guidelines on debt to income," he said. "And when they did, they put themselves in jeopardy."

That's one way of looking at it.

More on borrowers who blame lenders for enabling them to buy an overpriced college degree here and here. Tim Cavanaugh on mortgage deadbeats here.

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  • Warty||

    an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women's studies

    She deserves everything she gets.

  • qwerty||

    True, and so does the dumbass who gave her the loan. Maybe they could sell their kidneys.

  • ||

    she is kind of homely. But she is thin at least. She could probably sell her body and make back some of the money.

  • ||

    Click through and look at the larger image. I'll bet you a shiny mega-nickel that she looks like a werewolf from the navel down.

  • ||

    Some guys go for that kind of thing. There is a whole niche market for that. Any woman can be a hooker. She just has to figure out which kink she appeals to.

  • ||

    which kink she appeals to

    Guys who want to fuck guys that have a vagina. And like "women" who look like they've broken their nose six or seven times.

  • ||

    There is your market. I guarantee you she would not be the ugliest hooker out there. And she could also do things like Greek and domination that the pretty girls won't do.

  • ||

    ATM Machine.

  • ||

    How redundant. You repeat yourself.

  • ||

    "Ass-To-Mouth" Machine.

  • ||

    I see little difference there. You have seen this unfortunate girl's case of Torsonic Polarity Syndrome, no?

  • Atanarjuat||

    Dare I ask what Greek is?

  • ||

    Butt stuff.

  • ||

    To make this safe for work, ancient Greeks were known for their casual homosexuality. So, the act most associated with male homosexuality, is known as "Greek Style"

  • ||

    So, the act most associated with male homosexuality, is known as "Greek Style"

    Fabulous taste in interior design is known as "Greek style"?

    I did not know that.

  • ||

    I hate myself for asking, but what is 'casual homosexuality'?

    "Oh excuse me, but I'm now f*cking you ... and done."

  • Atanarjuat||

    OK, I actually looked on Urban Dictionary for myself. It's prostitute slang for anal sex (I was expecting much worse). Prostitutes have boundaries too, apparently.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Thanks. It seems like a bit of an arbitrary line to draw, but maybe I'm just drawing on my vast knowledge of porn, where Greek is all too common.

  • ||

    In the UK girls say they have their "A-levels."

  • Dello||

    Lots of pretty girls do domination play: You just have to ask...nicely.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, you hit that one on the head. That's definately bag over the head action.

  • Dello||

    I just clicked through to the pic, and I'd hit it! With a shovel!

  • ||

    Well, the article did suggest that hse get a flexible second job to assist in paying down the loan.

  • ||

    I'd pay this chick $500 to take her in the backdoor while she recites her Women's Studies thesis.

  • SIV||

    You're a masochist

  • ||

    I'd go $250, tops, for that.

    Unless she was a screamer -- that might be worth more.

  • Warty||

    Plus, look at her square jaw and stupid hipster tattoo. To the slave-pens with her.

  • ||

    That square jaw suggests adequate room for fallatio with excellent buccal and pharyngeal clearance; the dull look of the eyes are indicative of a high degree of submission and suggestibility.

    I don't think it would require too much training to get her in proper shape.

  • ||

    Don't forget to check the teeth.

  • Anonymous||

    the dull look of the eyes are indicative of a high degree of submission and suggestibility

    As if shelling out $100k for a degree with zero job prospects didn't suggest suggestibility already...

  • ||

    "an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women's studies"

    Stop right there.

  • ||

    We need to help students like her out. We can't afford to let other nations eclipse us in the field of religious and women's studies, especially at the undergraduate collegiate level.

  • PIRS||

    Please tell me you are being sarcastic.

    If so +500

    If not, why?

  • cynical||

    It looks like the trolls completely blew your sarcasm detector out. You might want look into a personal injury lawsuit.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    We need to help students like her out. We can't afford to let other nations eclipse us in the field of religious and women's studies, especially at the undergraduate collegiate level.


    The Taliban in Afghanistan were experts in women's studies.

  • ||

    My thoughts exactly. I almost took a degree in philosophy until I learned that the big philosophy companies were cutting back on hiring.

  • Zeb||

    I have a degree in Philosophy and no regrets. But I actually knew how to do stuff before college, so I could get a job doing something useful, but I am probably not typical.

  • PIRS||

    As long as you knew ahead of time what this meant and are happy, fine.

    But people who expect to make loads of money off of the degree have another thing coming. Not everyone can be the next Ayn Rand.

  • Zeb||

    Exactly. My degree is also in math, so it is slightly more useful, but I never expected my degree to be a ticket to a job. I got my education because I value education in and of itself. I work manufacturing robots now which I can do because of skills I developed on my own.

  • SIV||

    So you gonna gay marry your Lego Mindstorms?

  • PIRS||

    Robots! Fascinating. Maybe your philosophy degree could be usefull after all. WIth your unique set of skills you could write the definitive philosophical tome of how we humans should treat the artificaly intelligent androids that are in our future. Do androids dream of electic sheep?

  • Robononymous||

    I work manufacturing robots now which I can do because of skills I developed on my own.

    How many of those robots have put philosophers out of work?

    And when will your job be given to a robot?

  • Warty||

    I imagine it would be pretty easy to write a program that could generate publishable philosophy papers.

  • ||

    My philosophy degree got me into a eminently marketable law school. So there's that.

  • ||

    I really only got a minor in Philosophy to round out my Insufferable Asshole Certificate.

  • PIRS||

    "to round out my Insufferable Asshole Certificate."

    So your major was Political Science?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I majored in Political Science, minored in Philosophy, and went to law school.

    The Insufferable Asshole Trifecta!

  • Mark Trueblood||

    Former Philosophy and Rhetoric major right here. However, I ended up going into the advertising industry and I use philosophy and rhetoric every day in my job. (seriously)

  • Zeb||

    Philosophy is really a lot more applicable (if done right) than people make it out to be. Just don't count on a career as a philosopher.

  • Mark Trueblood||

    Agreed. I also know people who paired their humanities major with a major that was career-oriented. Smart.

  • matt||

    im in the exact same situation, except i got a real degree like a BS in engineering and still cant get hi-tech work because my GPA was too low. But i'd be a little worse off than i am today if my lenders had revoked my finanicial aid 4-5 years in with the reasoning that i was expected to flunk out. i fucking stuck it out and eventually got a very expensive four-year degree. in reality id guess i'm only 20-30% more marketable with this degree than without, is still better than nothing.. i keep trying to tell myself that anyway, while still seeing my more studious classmates bouncing between the same kinds of dead-end, out-of-field, service industry jobs that I still get, over 5 years after graduating.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Dude...learn to program.

  • &&||

    +500.

    You don't even have to be good at it to make loads of money programming.

  • Robert||

    Not from what I've seen. I studied computer programming decades ago, and have done some over the time since as an adjunct to my other work (science, mostly). I'm sure I could sit down with a manual and be doing adequate programming in any language in a week, but from all I've seen, people will hire you for a either a single job or a regular position only if you're a trained specialist at it or if they know you directly or by another contact.

  • Brett L||

    Seconded. I dropped out of college and was making more than everyone except the engineers by the time my HS classmates got jobs. In the interest of full disclosure, at age 30 the doctors and lawyers are probably about to pass me if they haven't already. But I don't owe on student loans either.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Dude, learn to test software quality. You should be able to get a job.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    You might want to work on your grammar and spelling, too. Could work wonders for your career.

    ... Hobbit

  • Michael Ejercito||

    She deserves everything she gets.


    How the fuck is a degree in religious and women's studies supposed to be more helpful in the job market than dropping out of high school?

  • ||

    Well, it shows she can read and write at a higher level, likely has a more supportive family, and can complete assignments. Of course, if she'd studied engineering, she'd have engineering skills plus all that.

  • Dello||

    So, since money HAS to flow to get the economy going again, and based on these folks, banks are going to be...hesitant...to loan, does that mean that the government will have to save us?

    Oh goody!

  • ||

    Of course imagine if Citibank made rational lending decisions based on the job prospects of the borrower. If they did that, no one majoring in "hate studies" or any such nonsense would ever get a dime. If they did that, the Times headline pretty much writes itself "Banks discriminate against minorities and women studies majors".

  • Subsidize Me!||

    From the loan application:

    If it weren't for wymyn's studies majors, our nation would be in dire need of ________?

  • PIRS||

    ..... baristas at Starbucks.

  • ||

    Hate to split hairs but they would still be in Starbucks. They just wouldn't exude so much attitude.

  • Dello||

    Actually, the first time they admonished a customer for not buying Fair Trade coffee, they'd be fired.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    If it weren't for wymyn's studies majors, our nation would be in dire need of ________?


    Strippers

  • ||

    May they never receive another loan ever again. Enjoy the good times while they last folks because economic armageddon is about to rain down.

  • Dello||

    I disagree. Seriously. I think that the US is strong enough to avoid full melt-down for another 8-10 years.

  • JLM||

    A degree in "religious and women's studies" is worthless? Who woulda thunk it?

  • ||

    o tempora, o mores!

  • Fluffy||

    Her degree is only worthless because of the soulless materialism of the patriarchy!

  • Brett L||

    I blame the atheists.

  • ||

    She already learned about that in WS423: "Patriarchal Oppression of Women's Studies Graduates."

  • Subsidize Me!||

    But it's from NYU!!!!!!!!1!

  • ||

    And how, pray tell, is this dumbassery my responsibility to clean up?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Because you enjoy the same roads she might travel on...or something (talk to Chony for details on the horseshit). Regardless, the libertarians will be blamed.

  • ||

    Because her existence provides ongoing fodder for your snarky reposts from Feministing, et als?

    Ok, so it's not your responsibility, but you could at least drop a Lincoln in her tip jar.

  • ||

    That's is something I might tip well for.

  • ||

    Because, dear Saccharin Man, "It Takes a Village." Where the hell have you been? Responsibility is so passe. I blame over-indulgent parents here.

  • Villager||

    You forgot to add: Fuck the villagers. I am dropping out of medicaid/medicare. ;-)

  • ||

    Blame Paul Krugman. He's the village economist!

  • New World Dan||

    No, they just need to fix the bankruptcy law so that student loans can be limited to a repayment of 10% (or some such thing) of income for 10 years or so. Both the student and the bank should both suffer for this level of stupidity and bad judgement.

  • ||

    It was uh stupid move by da old lady, tuh come inta my neck of da woods afta dark. When she did, she put huhself in jeopardy.

    Hey, I cudda let her keer her dough, or I cudda starved to death! It may sound very horrible, but it comes down to uh self-preservation thing.

  • ||

    Why are you still hanging in some dank neck-of-the-woods? Just go into a house you like and live there rent free. If there's any pesky residents already there, just slap em around till they shut up and leave.

  • ||

    Where were her parents? Who lets their kid go into that kind of debt while majoring in such a worthless subject?

  • ||

    John, how do you tell your little angel to not follow her dream?

  • ||

    If doing such involves obtaining debt she will never pay back and getting a degree that will never get her a job, yes.

  • ||

    why is she paying her loans at all? bankruptcy is optimal here.

    How are the banks ever going to learn anything if we don't teach them not to lend to womyns study majors?

  • ||

    Her government guaranteed student loans are non dischargable in bankruptcy.

  • some dude||

    Circa 1990, student loans could not be discharged in chapter 7, but could be dramatically reduced through Chapter 13.

  • T||

    I seem to recall student loan debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. So what she needs to do is get credit cards, transfer all the debt to the cards, and then declare bankruptcy.

    I actually know someone who did this, but I don't know how the recent changes in bankruptcy law affect the execution of this cheat.

  • ||

    Isn't it actually the responsbility of the parents to inject a bit of reality into their childs life?

  • Madbiker||

    When the state relieves parents of all responsibility for their children, no one will be able to crush their little dreams with any such dosing of something called "Reality."

  • Reality||

    Is that a challenge?

  • ||

    remembe back int he good old days when she could have taken out a zero down liar loan for a big house then taken out a home equity loan and used that to pay off the college debt..then defaulted on the mortgage while living in the house rent free for two years before being evicted?

  • SomeAttorney Dood||

    They aren't unless one can show a "subtsantial hardship." Good luck with that...

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Look, if a face like that isn't a substantial hardship, I don't know what would be.

  • Brett L||

    "I'm not paying for that."

  • ||

    Perhaps like this:

    "Honey, I would never tell you not to follow your dream, but I don't want you to be miserable. If you borrow over $100,000 to get that major, I'm afraid you will be miserable for a very long time. You're going to have to come up with $700 a month, every month, for years and years to pay that off. You may not be able to buy a house, or a nice car, or eat out, or have nice clothes. Is that the life you want?"

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Dean, you didn't get the memo. Reality is just racist, sexist...and plain mean! Besides she'll be fine once we garnish your wages.

    This country is fucked.

  • ||

    I don't think it is fucked. But I think a lot of people are going to learn some hard lessons they should already know.

  • ||

    Like health care costs money?

  • ||

    You'll work for free, and like it, Groovus. Now, about this rash....

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    John, my unfounded optimism pills don't work anymore. What the hell are you taking?

  • ||

    LOL.

  • Robert||

    Don't laugh at Drax. Laugh at Dax, who used to advertise in Reason.

  • ||

    "I don't think it is fucked. But I think a lot of people are going to learn some hard lessons they should already know."

    +1

  • John's wife||

    I got fucked up too but the lessons were kind of soft

  • ||

    John's wife: "I got fucked up too but the "lesson" were was kind of soft.

    Fixed.

  • cynical||

    Yes, it will be us, and the lesson will be "it can happen here".

  • Chris||

    "This country is fucked."

    Too bad there's nowhere else to go.

  • ||

    I'm off to Panama to scout for housing and business opportunities later this year.

    One advantage to a developing third-world economy: they know they can't afford ruinous entitlements.

  • ||

    True. But they can afford the odd populist regime that pays for the government by seizing all the assets of the gringos who are dumb enough to buy land there.

  • ||

    Be mindful of the weather RC. And the stability of the land. I would hate to see a headline like "Noted Reason Poster and Harvard Alum RC Dean, died when his villa in Panama sunk 3 stories into the ground, in an oddly isolated incident. Geologists are stumped!"

  • ||

    Wait...seriously?

  • Maverick||

    I spent a month on Bocas del Toro last year. Very nice place. Quite a few ex-pats too. But, some of the 10+ year gringo land owners were running into problems with politically connected and wealthy Panamanian families who claimed to be the rightful owners. This seemed to be a commonly occurring problem for ex-pat land owners in Panama.

  • Alan||

    Don't know about Panama, but I'm seriously considering some places in South America. Any ideas about the legal systems in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru, or Chile?

  • Dello||

    "You may not be able to buy a house, or a nice car, or eat out, or have nice clothes."

    You forgot "Or move the hell out of OUR house!"

  • Brian E||

    No, no. She'll marry some guy with a good income, then suddenly wake up to the evils of the patriarchy a few years later and split with half of everything he's ever earned and a good chunk of what he will earn for the rest of his life.

  • ||

    Bitter much?

  • Brian E||

    I learn from the experiences of others. So, schadenfreude much? Yup.

  • zoltan||

    If it happened to him he has a good reason to be.

  • New World Dan||

    No, she already blew that. She's supposed to find that rich MBA while she's in school. Finding that schmuck is a lot harder when you're working for peanuts and living in a hell hole. Someone forgot to explain to her that you go to expensive schools like that for the contacts you make, not the education.

  • Brett L||

    We call that the MRS degree.

  • SIV||

    She's making $22 an hour working for a photographer. Most photographers don't clear $22x40 per week, not even close. She made some kind of contacts.
    Assuming full time hours she can pay back $100k unless she is at payday loan rates. It won't be pleasant though.

  • In Time Of War||

    Any wealthy guy who dates, much less marries, someone with a degree in religious and women's studies, deserves everything he gets.
    That's why God created prenups.

  • ||

    If the wealthy guy is ugly enough, and the wymen's studies chick is hot enough, it could work.

  • Dave||

    Wymyn's studies chick? hot?

  • ||

    Likewise, he faults NYU's financial aid office for not giving Munna better advice, which would have meant suggesting that she attend a different, cheaper school.

    Perhaps the best advice she could have been given would be that she actually get a marketable degree. But at least Starbucks will never suffer from a labor shortage.

  • ||

    The guy is seriously asking why a school financial aid office didn't recommend going to a different school? How often does any financial aid office do that?

  • Transtar||

    As someone who has over 120K in student loan debt, I feel her pain, but I have no sympathy. Women's studies? Really??? "But she worked hard for that degree..with hard work" they said on their usual Thursday night party.

    I for one blame the federal government, with the proliferation of low-interest student loans, the price of college skyrocketed. And then making private student loans all but impossible to dismiss in bankruptcy gives private institutions a free pass to any money that individual makes in the future. But that's just my take on it.

  • ||

    Yeah, it's the Government's fault, that's the ticket.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    So you refute the notion that colleges have increased tuition in conjunction with increases in aid/loan guarantees?

  • ||

    No, it's not the government's fault, but government policies have certainly exacerbated the situation.

  • ||

    Welcome to every crisis we're currently dealing with.

  • SIV||

    No, many of them ARE the government's fault

  • ||

    Would anyone reading about the deadbeats in Florida care to defend the proposition that there is no moral element to contracting or economics? That there is nothing wrong with doing what they are doing? Is there any other way of describing what they are doing other than "Getting away with as much as we can, and fuck you"?

  • ||

    And those people not only are fucking the bank, they fucked all the honest people in Florida who didn't take out loans they couldn't afford by artificially driving up the price of houses. I think maybe debtors prison needs to make a comeback.

  • JEP||

    well, capitalism isn't moral. The way it should work is that their credit ratings go to shit and they shouldn't even be able to open a checking account.

    It's morally wrong in the sense that they lied, but the economy doesn't demand that people be moral.

  • ||

    but the economy doesn't demand that people be moral.

    The economy does demand that contracts be enforceable.

  • cynical||

    Strictly speaking, the economy just demands to know at the time of signing which contracts are enforceable and which are not. Bankruptcy is an established element of law, Obama's plundering of GM for the union notwithstanding.

  • Fluffy||

    Yes, absolutely. I'll defend it.

    These people aren't asking for any taxpayer money.

    They borrowed money by giving an asset as security. That asset has decreased in value. They have stopped making their payments because the value of the payment stream is now higher to them than the value of the asset.

    If we didn't have all the bailouts, you know what we would have had? A general system liquidation. This would have been a good thing, because it would have cleared the balance sheets of most individuals and companies of bad debts and repriced overvalued assets down across the board. Most people on this board understand the positive economic benefits of a liquidation and the hazards of using policy to try to avoid one.

    Well, this is what a liquidation looks like. These borrowers are attempting to reduce their overall debt burden by defaulting and by allowing their lender to either seize the asset or renegotiate their debt. That is garden variety liquidation strategy, guys.

    Had there been no bailout and had all the major mortgage failed - as they should have - renegotiations with debtors still in possession of their security would have been extremely commonplace. The new holders of the security instruments would have bought them at pennies on the dollar, and would have every reason to talk to people like this Florida couple and negotiate their principal down. It would have made economic and business sense. And that story would have repeated itself millions of times, and the general overleverage in our economy would be on its way down - way down. This is what should have happened. But it didn't, and so now the debtors are going to make it happen, one painful foreclosure-avoidance story at a time.

  • ||

    Good points.

  • ||

    If the banks that made bad loans don't go bankrupt then society is fucked...these people are doing us a service by sticking it to banks that haven proven they are incompetent.

    they should say fuck you to the banks...my only problem is that I was too naive to understand where things were headed...I should have taken out big loans much earlier...instead I saved for my downpayment while house prices were rising...I make all my payments on a home that is appropriately priced for my income...what a fucking tool I was. It is my fault.

  • Joel||

    I understand the arguments, and don't necessarily blame people who got upside-down on houses walking away and letting the banks take the houses back. That's what security is for. But I'd stop short of calling the defaulters benefactors of society, or wishing I'd taken out huge impossible loans so I could default on them too.

  • ||

    They have stopped making their payments because the value of the payment stream is now higher to them than the value of the asset.

    The fact that the house is worth less than it was when it was financed is irrelevant to the ability of the homeowner to make the payment. The ratio of the payment stream to the value of the asset is a function of the down payment, not just its declining market value. And yet no one suggests that the guy who only financed 10% of his home purchase stop paying for it just because it has depreciated unexpectedly. But economically speaking they are in identical situations.

  • ||

    And yet no one suggests that the guy who only financed 10% of his home purchase stop paying for it just because it has depreciated unexpectedly.

    Actually many people have suggested exactly this. If you are underwater enough, and it makes financial sense (like you are in a non-recourse state and the amount you are underwater is high enough that you don't think you will recover it in a decent time frame) you should make the smart financial decision and stop paying and let the bank foreclose.

    The house is an asset, and if that asset turns sour, it only makes sense to stop making payments on that asset and move on rather than letting that asset sink you completely.

  • ||

    If you are underwater enough, and it makes financial sense...you should make the smart financial decision and stop paying and let the bank foreclose.

    You missed the point. In my example the individual who put down 90% of the purchase price is not upside down on the loan but they have lost as much money as the individual who financed 90% of the loan. The difference is that they are stuck with the accounting loss while the individual who finances the purchase can try to stick the bank with it.

    The house is an asset, and if that asset turns sour, it only makes sense to stop making payments on that asset and move on rather than letting that asset sink you completely.

    In what way does a change in the value of your house "sink" you?

  • Fluffy||

    Absolutely. The person who has a huge amount of equity in their property is in a much worse bargaining position with their lender than someone who has no equity in the property. The lender has a much better chance of realizing enough on a foreclosure sale to cover their loss. They have a correspondingly lower incentive to renegotiate the terms of the loan.

    But the borrower put themselves in that position. They sunk a large amount of liquid capital into an illiquid asset, and that pledged that asset as collateral for a relatively small loan. They basically stuck their necks in a noose. In effect, the house isn't the only security to the loan now; it's (house) plus (all the money I sank it to it). If you have less than a 50 LTV the lender really has you by the balls.

    The two people aren't in any way, shape or form in identical economic situations. If you still have equity in the property, and are only making a small monthly payment, then the property should be worth more to you than the payment stream, if only as an "option play" that asset prices might recover in the medium term. They aren't making identical economic calculations. The person who put 90% down screwed themselves, because the entire loss in value on the property is theirs.

  • ||

    The two people aren't in any way, shape or form in identical economic situations.

    Suppose you and I each have $500,000 in the bank and each decide to buy a house. I pay cash for the house and have no mortgage. You finance 100% of the home. Then our houses lose 50% of their value based on the purchase price. Our balance sheets are identical and our obligations have not changed. The difference is that I have no contract to breach.

    The person who put 90% down screwed themselves, because the entire loss in value on the property is theirs.

    Your whole point presupposes a pressing need to sell the house; pressure that is definitely not a component in this specific instance, nor in most cases where the homeowners owe more than the house is worth. There are a lot of good reasons not to finance 100% of the price of a home, or to even buy one. The fact that you can default on the loan and walk away from a contractual obligation is not one of them.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    The major issue, however, is that the dollar value is irrelevant. When these homeowners bought their home, it was worth it to them to pay nearly $2000 per month, yet it isn't now? If it was worth that cost to them 2 years ago, one would suppose that it would still be worth $2000 a month now.

  • Fluffy||

    But one factor in that decision is the value of the house as an asset. You aren't solely valuing the house by its utility as a place to sleep - or you'd rent.

  • ||

    Not if they can now rent a similar sized house for $1200/month (whereas at the time of their purchase they couldn't).

  • ||

    So, Fluffy, you don't think these people are doing anything wrong?

    That our society would be better off if everybody operated according to the credo "I'll get away with whatever I can, and fuck you. If you can't force me to do what I agreed to do, you're shit out of luck, sucker"?

  • ||

    There's nothing "wrong" with ceasing to pay your debts. That can easily be a pure business decision.

    It's only "wrong" to cease to pay and then expect to both retain the debt funded assets and to retain access to easy credit later in life.

  • ||

    The banks already violated all the moral rules by taken taxpayer money via force. The best that these losers in florida can do is try to bankrupt those banks which deserve to be bankrupt.

  • Fluffy||

    No, I don't.

    At least not with secured loans.

    Both parties to a secured loan are making bets about the future value of the property and the future value of the payment stream.

    Sometimes when you make those bets you lose.

    I don't blame "speculators" or "Wall Street" for the real estate bubble or subsequent economic crisis. But that's because I understand that, once a bubble is underway, there is no such thing as an "irrational" loan secured by the assets in that bubble. The banks made loans thinking that the value of the security would always rise, so they couldn't lose. That explains all of the decline in underwriting standards, and the extension of credit to borrowers who shouldn't have gotten it. I don't blame the banks for it, because during the bubble loans secured by real estate were rational based solely on the value of the security regardless of any other underwriting factor. The fault lies with the people who got the bubble going.

    But since I don't blame them for the bubble, I also can't defend them from the day of reckoning. All of a sudden the value of the security to these loans has gone way down. That single fact dramatically changes the relationship between creditor and debtor. It was always a possibility, but it was one the banks thought would never come to fruition. They paid their money and they took their chances. For a long time they won their bets. Now they lose. That's life.

    And these people are doing what they agreed to do. Their agreement was, "I pay you $X a month, or you get my house." If the bank gets either A or B the agreement is kept.

    It's like signing an agreement to purchase an asset but having a break-up fee in the contract. If the other party won't close, you can't whine that they aren't keeping their agreement if they pay you the break-up fee.

  • ||

    When you make a purchase you are saying I value this object that much. Unless you can't pay, I do think you have a moral obligation to make payments (even if it's not a legal one).

    That being said, if I way WAY underater, I might walk too. Then again, I wasn't going to pay bullshit prices for something so I waited and rented.

  • JB||

    And thus are screwed as the government seems likely to artificially inflate housing prices into perpetuity.

  • Joshua||

    What the bank is doing wrong as far as I'm concerned is slacking on evicting the deadbeats.

  • Virginia||

    Their behavior is an unintended consequence of bailouts. They are abiding by the rules as written by Congress. I don't condone their behavior, but I understand it.

    And besides, any future landlord or lender (or loanshark) that runs their names through Google will see their past behavior and make an informed decision wrt terms.

  • Steve Nash Equilibrium||

    I don't care what they do as long as the government doesn't bail them out with tax dollars. It's the bank's problem to get the money back through whatever legal means are available to them, not mine. I'm sure they will feel the pain the next time they need a loan to buy something and cannot get one because they pulled this stunt, though. The free ride only lasts so long.

  • ||

    This.

  • ||

    Along with the comments by SugarFree and Steve Nash Equilibrium I would also like to add that in many cases, the banks are choosing not to foreclose and evict them because then the banks would have to write down the loss.

    Not to mention, the fact that in many cases simply asking whoever claims to own the note to prove it, oftentimes stops foreclosure in it's tracks because of sloppy record keeping on the part of whoever owns the note, I dont see anything at all that isn't defensible in the above scenario.

    They are playing by the rules of the game. They stopped paying, and are waiting for an eviction order.

    What's the problem here exactly?

    The banks probably prefer that this family stays rather than they get evicted and the property is unattended and likely to be vandalized or fall into disrepair since the bank wont be able to flip it without probably eating a loss.

    I fail to see what the problem is with what these people are doing?

    They decided that they are no longer going to let the albatross that is their mortgage fuck the rest of their lives, and are waiting to be foreclosed/evicted.

    They aren't barricading themselves in or refusing to honor an eviction notice or anything. They simply stopped paying and are going through the foreclosure process -- however fast or slow that takes.

    This happens all they time. Why is this particular case so galling?

    It's a smart financial decision they are making, and it's the same one many corporations and individuals make all the time.

  • ||

    What's the problem here exactly?

    They agreed to repay a loan, and they are refusing to do so even though they (apparently) have the means. That's OK with everyone?

  • ||

    That's OK with everyone?

    Nope. But in the end, they'll do whatever it takes out of rational self-interest.

    Note to self: do not use this pest control company. It's a poorly run business and the owner thinks little of contractual obligations.

  • ||

    They agreed to repay a loan, and they are refusing to do so even though they (apparently) have the means. That's OK with everyone?

    Sure why not. The recourse for this is a civil suit or a foreclosure, no?

    That's how the system is setup. What exactly is the problem?

    They may have the means to pay, but they did a cost benefit analysis and decided it's better to not pay and deal with the fallout.

    Corporations do this ALL THE TIME. It's called capitalism.

    There is a process in place to deal with what these people are doing. They aren't doing anything illegal, so again, other than the fact you find it personally immoral - what is the problem?

    I am perfectly ok with it.

  • ||

    They aren't doing anything illegal, so again, other than the fact you find it personally immoral - what is the problem?

    I think the emboldened part is the problem, at least from my POV. There are a lot of immoral things that are (and should be) legal.

    This isn't like a person having to stop paying their debts because they simply can't without living on the streets and starving.

  • ||

    I am perfectly ok with it.

    Good to know.

    Can I borrow $15,000?

  • DRATER||

    Lets assume the banks forecloses (eventually) and the property is sold at pennies on the dollar, then yes, I am OK with this. This is what should have happened except for TARP. Bank loans too much money for an overvalued home; borrower defaults; bank takes loss; home drops in value; borrower has a scarlett "F" on their credit rating and is forced to pay cash from now on; bank learns valuable lesson; everyone lives happily ever after.

    If they manage to stay in the house long enough to get some taxpayer funded bailout, they I am not OK with this.

  • AJs||

    The only thing wrong with it is subsidizing the impacts with taxpayers money. Allow the system in place to run it's course... while I think it morally wrong to walk away from a contract you signed, it is even worse for you to confiscate my money to subsidize the effects to you. The bank and the individual entered in to a contract... if one person violates the contract, there is existing legal recourse. What's the problem? You confuse being OK/Not OK with being something that requires a new government solution when one already exists.

  • ||

    They agreed to EITHER pay back the loan or give back the property securing the loan. That's the deal the bank made with them. One wonders why the banks don't want their collateral - because as long as the bank forestalls foreclosure, they can carry the asset at face (which is either fraudulent or is only not because the regulators are playing along).

  • cynical||

    I don't personally think it's very honest, but there is a difference between being unethical and being criminal. This was a foreseeable result of their contract, and the appropriate consequence is simple and fair -- loss of access to credit in the future.

  • Robert||

    They agreed to repay a loan, and they are refusing to do so even though they (apparently) have the means. That's OK with everyone?


    They agreed to the terms under the laws of the state it was contracted in. That was probably even explicitly alluded to in the contract.

    Are you going to be like the football coach who claimed his team really won because the touchdowns the other team scored were by this newly legal thing, forward passes?

  • In Time Of War||

    I'm surprised no one else has brought this up...the couple run a company. Now, if I had them renovate my attic and then decided the attic was no longer worth anything, would they be upset if I just refused to pay them?

  • DRATER||

    If they were smart, they would demand a portion of they payment in advance. If you refused to pay them for, say the second half of the job, then they have a hedge against your defaulting.

    But if they agreed to some asset of yours as collateral, then they could simply take the asset. No hard feelings, just business.

  • ||

    would they be upset if I just refused to pay them?.

    They would put a lien against the house for nonpayment of services. With any luck the house is worth less than the bank is owed and they can get in line behind the bank with the rest of the creditors who are going to get stiffed.

  • Robert||

    I'll defend it. It's just business. The terms were known by both parties when they contracted for them -- and that includes any terms automatically imposed by the regime. It wasn't a law impairing the obligation of an existing contract at the time it was enacted, was it?

  • Alex Pemberton||

    You fucked up. You trusted me.

  • ¢||

    She deserves everything she gets.

    Except the money.

    $22/hr is only slightly below the average income for any college graduate of any age. She's a 26-year-old with a vanity degree in Puritan Studies. That's twenty years away from "peak earning," and she's demonstrably a dipshit.
    WTF?

  • #||

    that was my thought too... $22/ hour isnt bad for a 20 something, particuarly with the degree she has. Maybe she needs to move out of san fran to some place where its cheaper to live.

  • ||

    Of course she would do a lot better if the taxes were lower. I somehow doubt she is a low tax small government type though. Karma is a bitch.

  • MWG||

    I was thinking the same thing...

  • ||

    The fact that she's living in an extremely expensive market is probably why she's making that much. "Photographer's assistant" doesn't sound like a highly skilled position.

  • The Gobbler||

    ""Photographer's assistant" doesn't sound like a highly skilled position"

    But it does sound like a porno title.

  • ||

    Is that degree even usable outside San Francisco?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Is that degree even usable outside San Francisco?

    No. Women are 51% of the population. If you're an adult and don't understand them yet, you're an idiot. Also, she is a woman. You think that would give her a head start.

    I won't go into Religion, but why study it unless you're going to start your own cult or something? At least that would be more lucrative than being an artist's assistant.

  • ||

    Wait, you understand women? What's that like?

  • BakedPenguin||

    To a point, of course. For example, I don't tell them I'm a libertarian until I want to break up with them.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Also, most women need drama. Argue (pleasantly) over everything she wants to do (e.g., move the furniture, drive 250 miles to see her parents, etc.) but give in in the end on all the stuff you really don't care about, making sure you mention that you want to see her happy. (Warning - only do this if you have intelligent arguments to make).

    Then, when something that really matters to you comes up, go through the list of things that you wanted to have one way, but you deferred to her because you care so much about her happiness. Yet, she won't even give you this one issue. Suddenly, she either has to give in, or be the biggest bitch in the world. Works like a charm.

    Not that I'm a manipulative bastard or anything.

  • ||

    Mac Baked Daddy!

  • ||

    This is what makes homosexuality appealing. Too bad I'd rather stick it in a garbage can.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    This is what makes homosexuality appealing. Too bad I'd rather stick it in a garbage can.


    How about just pumping and dumping women?

    Would that work?

  • anarch||

    Do you have any idea of the percentage of new cults that fail every year?

  • BakedPenguin||

    You'd hope that her degree would give her more insight as to why people are attracted to religion, and be able to gain adherents quicker.

    Also, use a "franchise" model - don't start a new religion that teaches that we all came from Alpha Centauri and evolved from earthworms, but start a weird off-shoot of Christianity or one of the other major religions (e.g., Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses). That way, you get brand recognition, yet without having to pay franchise fees.

  • cynical||

    Sounds like someone's been hitting the SMAC...

  • Zeb||

    This is probably too serious of a response, but I think that there is a place for some Women's studies majors, English majors, underwater basket weaving majors, etc. in the world. The problem is that there only need to be very few of any of those. Making lots of money available for education in whatever useless field anyone chooses distorts the market and allows thousands of people to study in fields that really only need a few academics working in them.

  • ||

    I could see a degree like that working out if you learn a trade while you're in school. My brother got a BS in philosophy while working as a plumber's apprentice during the summers, and he makes way way more than me with my advanced degree now. The college degree helps show employers and others that you are able to stick with something for a long period of time; it doesn't really matter what it's in.

    It looks like she may have done something similar, actually; perhaps she worked for a photographer while she was in school learning the ropes? But of course my brother got his degree after two years at community college and two at state university, not four years at NYU.

  • ||

    *Ahem*, I don't think it's fair to class English majors with fields that really do have little real-world value (or are arguably economically harmful, like Grievance Studies). Writing and editing count as useful work. (Well, sometimes.)

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Your argument, and that of many posters here, is that you see a college degree as something wholly different than what the academy was designed to do. You understand it, wrongly, as a means to get a job. The academy was not designed to be a glorified trade school, but as a means to getvan education. It's about personal fulfillment, not job training.

    Society is trying to blame the academy for not fulfilling a requirement it was never designed to fulfill.

    If you want job training, get a job or go to a trade school.

    But don't try and pin it on the uselessness of some college degrees, which aren't useless unless viewed through the very myopic and misguided lens of college=job training.

  • cynical||

    The problem is that the public university has sold its value to society (and hence its need for mandatory, coercive support from all citizens, whether they attend or not) as a place that provides society with trained and accredited scientists, engineers, and doctors.

    If it was billed as a ridiculously expensive form of entertainment and social networking for the upper class (Facebook + Wikipedia + $100,000/head), the rabble would regard the university as roughly as important and worthy of their hard-earned wealth as the opera.

  • Kolohe||

    yes, as cynical said the whole point of all the land grant institutions created in the late 19th century was to create (non-military*) schools for training in the agricultural and mechanical arts (i.e. engineering). Up until the 1861 war the premier and really only civil engineering program in the country was at West Point.

    which was distinct from the mostly private 'liberal arts' schools which were, until the post ww2 GI bill strarted the democratization wave of higher education, essentially 'finishing' schools for the elite who would go into management or professions based on family and other personal connections.

  • ||

    Doesn't sound like it is much good there either. One of my step-children insisted on working on a "degree" in Polynesian Cultural Studies. I am not sure at what point I think it happens, but someplace colleges get a responsibility to terminate programs that inevitably will lead no where. Interdisciplinary degree in religion and woem's studies sounds like unvarnished horse dung.

  • ||

    Stupid bitch. I wish my degree was that cheap. However, mine is actually, I dunno, employable and practicable. And I own my house, too.

    Serious question to the in-house lawyers: Why can' this woman be charged with fraud, since it apparent she had no intention of meeting her financial agreement?

  • PR||

    I think she probably had good intentions. She probably expected to land a fat government job as a Grievance Counselor.

  • ||

    I doubt she had the requisite intent to default on her loans when they were made.

    It doesn't sound like she had a thought in her head at all, really.

  • Oswald Acted Alone||

    More than likely, she was doing what everyone else was. It's easy to drive over a cliff when you're following the Joneses.

  • Zeb||

    They really push how great and worth it all of the loans will be when you start college (or they did when I did). I remember having to watch some movie where lots of graduating seniors were giving testimonials about how wonderful and worth it all those loans were. I did not feel that way when I graduated, and I only had $30k in loans and managed to pay them off in about 5 years.

  • attorney||

    Can we call you as an expert witness? Dr. Groovus Maximus, knowledgeable expert on 'Stupid bitch' syndrome. ;-)

  • cynical||

    They should have the legal right to condition loans as paying for a specific degree; and the marketability of the degree should be a factor in the terms of the loan (not to mention whether it would be made at all).

  • ||

    People who take out loans they can't pay back like to project their own massive stupidity on their lenders, it seems.

    "It's not my fault I hit my wife, it was the alcohol!"

    "It wasn't my fault I took out a huge loan I can't afford, it was the lenders!"

  • Solanum||

    Of course she has to stand posed with her so-unhip-that-it's-hip bike. I hope the dumb twat catches her scarf in the chain and strangles herself.

  • ||

    YouTube gold. Perhaps she could parlay such notoriety into a reality show.

  • ||

    Youtube gold indeed. I would insist that it be done Benny Hill Show style with fast motion and Yakety Sax playing.

  • Ska||

    I didn't know Benny Hill's theme music had a real name.

  • ||

    I believe the song was written by Boots Randolph.

  • ||

    You'd think she'd have learned about Isadora Duncan and the dangers of long scarves near vehicle wheels.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Another example of the decline in the concept of individual responsibility.

    Borrow too much for some stupid reason?

    Why it has to be somebody else's fault!

    It just CAN'T be the fault of the individual making the decision.

  • ||

    I didn't get the most lucrative undergraduate degree either, but then I knew I would have to get some sort of graduate degree to actually get a job.

  • The Gobbler||

    That's what my sister did. Undergrad in Womens Studies (I got to read a ton of interesting literature) followed up with an MBA from a well respected school.

  • ||

    From the student loan article:

    a debt burden that can repel potential life partners.

    Ha. I only hope that whoever she ends up with is smart enough to inquire about her finances before tying the knot. California is a community property state, so caveat emptor, fellas (or ladies).

  • ||

    a debt burden that can repel potential life partners.

    Depends on what the degree is in Dagster. The debt burden associated with a medical or law degree is often overlooked by said potential life partners.

  • ||

    Well, who doesn't want to bag a hot, rich MD? I doubt Ms. Munna is savvy enough to pull off a feat like that, however.

  • Not me||

    They work non-stop :-(

  • ||

    So you can spend their money without them being around all the time. Whats the problem?

  • Maybe||

    I have my own!

  • cynical||

    A wealthy, workaholic MD (WWMD) is for women willing to objectify themselves as markers of social status in exchange for money. WWMD is not for everyone. If you have certain advanced degrees, self-respect, or have been diagnosed with an enlarged income, do not take WWMD as your spouse. Women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant should not take WWMD, as serious childhood deficiencies may occur. Tell your doctor right away if you experience thoughts of suicide or the hollow emptiness of a life built around unearned material possessions. Common side effects are loneliness, ennui, and restless genital syndrome.

  • Kolohe||

    This was quite good

  • Astrid||

    Depends on what the degree is in Dagster. The debt burden associated with a medical or law degree is often overlooked by said potential life partners.

    Because those degrees, while still overpriced, lead to real jobs.

  • Jason||

    Real jobs that pay well enough to pay off the debt and still allow one to lead a comfortable life.

  • ||

    Assuming she's into guys, she'd date some whip-skinny hipster doofus with clunky black eyeglass frames, a firm stance on political veganism, an exhaustive knowledge of cigar-box guitars, a banjo he never learned to play and who cultivates an ironic Chester A. Arthur faceshelf mustache.

    What does he care for debt when he can have a full life of masturbating in the shower while crying after her fifth round of anti-depressants have blown her up to a size 18 and killed her already nonexistent sex drive?

  • Steve Nash Equilibrium||

    What does he care for debt when he can have a full life of masturbating in the shower while crying after her fifth round of anti-depressants have blown her up to a size 18 and killed her already nonexistent sex drive?

    Do I know you?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    "What does he care for debt when he can have a full life of masturbating in the shower while crying after her fifth round of anti-depressants have blown her up to a size 18 and killed her already nonexistent sex drive?"

    Bleakness is your canvas, malaise is your brush. Alcohol is my comfort.

  • ||

    Can they be on food stamps too? Like this Seattle-area ex-food writer? I think he would get along with Ms. Munna famously. They can forage together.

    Oh, the irony. The unseemly lack of shame at being on the dole. The tattooed, pierced, hipsterness of it all.

  • ||

    Don't discount the possibility of freeganism in her future. Dumpster food. Yum!

  • Fluffy||

    For some reason I found the banjo part of this really funny.

    It's all funny, of course, but my eyes reached the word "banjo" and I really had to laugh.

  • Banjos||

    We make people happy. Always have. Always will.

  • Banjos Kick Ass!||

    I fully get your description minus the banjo part. Who the hell would buy something as glorious as a banjo and never learn to play it? That is like having a really hot spouse and never having sex with them.

  • Tom Cruise||

    FUCK YOU!

  • Ragin Cajun||

    We all know you're in there, Tom. Come on out.

  • ||

    Katie looks more and more like those Nazis at the end of Radiers every day.

  • ||

    No kidding. What a shame. When she was on Dawson's Creek and in the Wonderboys she was flaming hot. The ultimate cute pretty college girl. Cruise deserves to die of terminal ass cancer for the sin of destroying Katie Holmes if nothing else.

  • Fluffy||

    I'd still hit it.

  • ||

    Me too, but then I do have a melting Nazi fetish. :-(

  • ||

    She's from Toledo. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

  • Admiral Akbar||

    We all forget that in the minds of many, PEOPLE never make mistakes. INSTITUTIONS, such as banks, make mistakes. The ONLY INSTUTION free of mistake making is of course THE GOVERNMENT.*

    *Unless it is run by Republicans.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Mark my words, after the current crisis, this disastrous oil leak, is finally plugged in 2014, the anointed one, if re-elected, will push for the Student Loan Debt Forgiveness/Free College act. This will make all the dumbasses like me, who pay our bills on time, look like the fools we are. Responsibility is/will be a liability.

  • Fluffy||

    That won't happen until 2025. The announcement that college is now free will come the day after my kid gets his free ride.

  • ||

    In a lot of countries that is the way it works: the government decides who goes to college, and pays for all those it deems worthy.

  • ||

    This will make all the dumbasses like me, who pay our bills on time, look like the fools we are.

    According to quite a few posters above, anyone who pays their bills without being forced to is a fool.

  • ||

    I think that these loans ought to be dischargable in bankruptcy. I know that goes against personal responsibility and all. But every other debt is discharable why not student loans? The lack of ability to effectively default on them gives the lender no reason to make sound lending decisions. So the lenders don't give a shit that this person is majoring in a worthless degree and has no hope of ever paying it back. They will get at least a big chunk of their money no matter what. That creates inefficiencies. Yeah, it is funny to laugh at this person's stupidity. But what is not so funny is that that $100,000 that was lent to her could have been lent to someone doing something productive. Making these loans non-dischargable just misdirects resources into education.

  • ||

    IIRC, they made them undischargable after quite a few people declared bankruptcy immediately after graduating.

  • ||

    Maybe nondischargable for ten years or something. There is a real problem with a system where the lender doesn't bear any risk. The reason why she got these loans and a hundred grand went to waste in NYU's pockets is because the lender knows the loan is non discharable. It seems to me for the system to work, both sides have to be assuming some risk.

  • ||

    Oh, I agree. I was just giving you the moral hazard that was created by dischargable student loans. 10 years is probably a good length of time for them to have some sort of assets that they don't want seized.

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, the real problem was that they were dischargeable but were still government-guaranteed.

    So students were incented to default early and discharge them in bankruptcy, but lenders were not incented to stop making the loans because they were getting paid no matter what.

    Rather than get rid of the guarantee, they decided to fuck up bankruptcy law. Because that made so much more sense to do. And any libertarians who said different were crazy and unserious.

  • ||

    Hey fluffy that is third way socialism you are dissing there. That is supposed to be what makes Europe and America great. Anyone who thinks that artificially stimulating the demand for a product will create price bubbles or guaranteeing loans no matter how irresponsible they are will cause people to make stupid loans is just not a serious person.

  • robc||

    Notice that IRS debt is also rarely dischargeable (I know someone who got some of it discharged in his bankruptcy, but it was an unusual situation and very hard and time consuming to do).

    The government, like the mafia, gets their money.

  • Entitled Slacker||

    Unless the law was changed, student loans are dischargeable if the borrower has been in repayment for seven years and one day. It use to be three years, but the law changed under Clinton.

    I am ashamed that I know this.

  • robc||

    They arent dischargeable because they are government guaranteed.

    IIRC, student loans that arent Sallie Mae are dischargeable, because they are just loans.

  • Kolohe||

    I don't think this is right, a lot of the comsumer financial gurus are warning against private student loans for the exact reason they are being marketted more agressively after the '05 bankruptcy changes made the entire category non-dischargable.
    google

  • ||

    Thanks for the thoroughly depressing story to start off my Wednesday. Sigh.

  • ||

    You know, just last week I was saying to myself that I really shouldn't be calling people twats. That is was rude and demeaning and sexist. Then along comes this whiny twat to corrupt my vocabulary all over again.

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    Your day starts at 2 PM?

  • ||

    Time zone dude, I'm a Left Coastie not an Orange Line Puke. Plus, it was the start of my *surfing* day. My work day started at nine, and my waking day at seven thirty. Yeah, I'm a slacker for not being awake and productive at 5:00am, but at least I'm not a whiny twat bitching about my student loans.

  • Kiwi Dave||

    It's morning in the Pacific halfway between South America and NZ. He's on Rlyeh Standard time.

  • ||

    They and their families made borrowing decisions based more on emotion than reason, much as subprime borrowers assumed the value of their houses would always go up.

    Full stop. The column is over. Oh wait, it drones on for another 50 inches.

    When they applied for a third loan, however, Sallie Mae rejected the application, citing Cathryn’s credit history.

    What?? I thought gummint skool loans were going to send everyone to college and make everyone above average and insanely marketable overnight? It must be that rat-bastard Cheney pulling the levers behind the scenes, keeping the little woman down.

  • ||

    If you go to the NY Times article in question on the girl with the student loan debt, you can see a second photo of her. Anyone else notice the tattoo on her upper left arm? That's a couple hundred bucks she could have saved right there. I wonder if she has any more.

    Also, I wonder what is keeping her from doing what I did to pay off my student loans: Join the Army.

  • ||

    I would love to see the look on her face when given that option.

  • JEP||

    bicycle cavalry?

  • Ska||

    Cue Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries."

  • ||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_infantry

  • ||

    I agree with the general premise of these articles, because treating student loan debt more harshly seems unfair. Treat it exactly as harshly, no more, no less, than other forms of debt (consumer, business, lawsuit, mortgage, etc.). Start a ridiculously stupid business and fail, you'll be treated a lot more leniently in bankruptcy proceedings.

    Now, if one wants all debts/mistakes to be as hard to discharge as student loans, fine, that's a principled position (albeit one with which I disagree).

  • ||

    I agree.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The headline is obviously wrong, too. She also got a bike. And a scarf.

  • Madbiker||

    Could you just imagine the outrage if NYU began rejecting students on the basis of not being able to repay loans? It was not mentioned in this article, but the one I read this morning on the Yahoo! homepage indicated that perhaps NYU should not have admitted her if it felt she was too much of a payment risk.

    I cannot comprehend the outrage that would ensue if a student loan were rejected because a lender dared to make the judgment that a borrower was not pursuing a worthwhile enough degree to ensure repayment. Oh, the immorality of crushing an undergrad's dreams!

    I majored in English - not lucrative, but translatable in the job market. I leveraged my ability to write, communicate, organize, think critically and with flexibility, and understand various written materials - in short, the general skills any college grad should have regardless of major - and made a career (albeit it a short one) as a project manager before I even graduated college - I took a full-time job during my senior year, with a company that paid my tuition, thus offsetting some of my loan costs. Smart decision for me.

    I wonder why she cannot do the same. I was making over $60K with a similar bullshit degree to women's and religious studies. I read the stats on her rent/expenses: she brings home $2,300 a month and pays $750/month rent (in SAN FRAN?). Currently, she is deferring her student loans (which are accruing interest in deferment) by taking night classes to keep her enrolled as a part-time student and therefore not eligible/liable to be in full repayment at this time. If she were to be making payments on her loans, she would be making $700 a month in SL payments. That leaves her $900 a month leftover after rent and loans to pay utility bills and buy groceries, and even bank a few bucks in savings and stop buy her local coffee corner for a latte now and then.

    Is my math fuzzy on this? Because before I was making $60K, I was in the $40K bracket and still able to make it OK. I'm in the upper 40s now as a teacher, and still able to hack a living, even with student loan payments (yes, I have some school debt left to pay, but I went to a local state school and commuted to save on loan debt) one kid, another coming, and three vehicles in the driveway. I don't get this girl.

  • ||

    For you, madbiker.

  • Madbiker||

    I heart you, SugarFree. Did you hear I got fired?

  • ||

    Yes. Bastards. Have you been looking at private schools? They are usually happy to skim off teachers too competent to work at public schools.

  • Madbiker||

    Actually, husband is supportive on my return to school part-time (we'll pay tuition out of pocket) while I stay home with kids and be their teacher, at least for a while. If we can make homeschool work for the long term, we will, but our tax burden in NJ will likely require me to return to work at some point.

    Many of the private schools in my area want teachers with advanced degrees in their subject areas (versus a masters in education) so I am going to begin accruing credits towards the advanced degree and increase my marketability in the education field. In the meantime, I'm SAHMing it for a few years. I'm not afraid to go back to waiting tables part-time if it means I get to raise my kids, not a daycare monitor.

  • ||

    That sounds like a workable plan. Around here, at least, there is some money to be made from tutoring homeschoolers whose parents are not religious. An that's something you could probably do from your home. If you teaching homeschoolers is legal in your state, of course.

  • Madbiker||

    I plan to offer up my services to the neighborhood children, if they need or want them.

    I consider flying back to academia on many a day, and becoming a college professor, but those seem to be needed about as much as high school teachers these days, and I'm certain the politics of teaching in the ivory tower are just as sticky as in a public high school.

  • ||

    It depends on the college. The University of Kentucky employs a lot of non-PhD English teachers who are basically contract labor and apolitcal non-tenure track for business writing and ESL-writing classes. It's not the most awesome way to make a living, but I know they make about 3-5K per class per semester for what amounts to 9 hours of work a week. (3 hours of class time, 3 hours of office hours (that no one shows up for) and maybe three hours at home grading papers.

    The Teaching Assistant programs that used to provide instructors for those classes have been severely cut for a lot of state universities.

    Just don't go to Library School. Librarians never, ever retire.

  • Madbiker||

    Thanks for the advice - I might see if I can find a part-timer at the CC 2 miles from my house. Walk to work, 6 hours a week on site - might work out.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Librarians never, ever retire.

    That explains the first scene in Ghostbusters.

  • ||

    That woman was a spring chicken next to some of the wizened crones I work with. We had to finally convince one to retire after she started coming to work in a dressing gown and slippers. We also have one with Tourette's that farts like a trumpet whenever she laughs, one who pees himself every week or so while working on a public desk, and one eligible for retirement for 15 years that still drags herself into work despite having most of her feet amputated because of diabetes.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    My mom is a librarian, and there was a woman that she worked with that she swore was going to keep coming in until she died at the office. Mercifully, she retired before the Grim LTA came to collect her.

  • ||

    Old librarians never die, they just get withdrawn and discarded.

  • ||

    Most? How many feet does she have?

  • anarch||

    Her pediatrician said she had grown four feet by age 9.

  • ||

    She started losing toes gradually, and now they are removing sections of both feet. She's down to stumps, but not terminating at the ankles yet.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This is about 1/3 informed. I did both the TA and adjunct gigs in the English department at UK and can say that it is no way to make a living. Even those who are employed regularly (39.5 hours a week to avoid giving benefits) only pull in about $24k a year (before taxes).

    There is a lot more work involved in teaching at the university level than 3 hours in class and 3 in the office. Prep is circa 3 hours for every hour of class you teach (about 9 hours a week per class you teach). Grading takes fucking forever in a writing course. The money is absolutely not worth the work involved.

  • ||

    Sorry to butt in, but I'm working on a plan to become a SAHHM (let's make the second H for Homeschool, eh?).

    Freelance editing is proving to be reasonably lucrative. Still at the bottom per word rate (I've only been at it for 5 months), I earn between $700 and $1000/month. That's just doing 4-5 assignments a week.

    I figure I can quit my job if I can clear at least $3k/month with editing full-time, plus another several hundred selling handmade baby bibs (I'm a wannabe crafter), plus whatever I can convince my neighbors to pay me for tutoring their children.

    What would you charge your neighbors, do you have a sense of that?

    I'm sorry the bastards fired you, but I'm so glad to know you're on such a great path.

  • ||

    I have a friend who is looking to put her kid into a private school. She told me there are people who actually make a living as "private school consultants". They get $4500 a pop to help rich people figure out which private school is best for their kids and how to get them in. No kidding. I would think someone with a good ed background and decent personality could clean up doing that.

  • ||

    I am sorry to hear that. Schools suck. Save yourself and use this as an opportunity to get away from education.

  • Art||

    Why isn't she suing NYU for offering useless degrees. Seems to me they are guilty of false advertising in the least and outright fraud.

  • ||

    I think so. Honestly it is a crime to even off such degrees. Yeah, she was stupid for doing it. But shouldn't NYU be more responsible? What purpose are those departments serving?

    It is even worse when you think about public schools. At least NYU is private. It drives me crazy to think that I am paying state taxes to subsidize people getting degrees that are of absolutely no value. I wouldn't mind paying for productive degrees in areas where we need people. But this shit?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You really need to get a grip, John. Thesecsorts of degrees are only useless when seen through the myopic lens of being used as a means to get a job, which, of course, the academy was not designed to do. The academy is designed to give people an education, not provide job training. If you want job training, go to trade school.

    Blaming a university for not providing it's students with job skills is like blaming government for providing substandard health care services. Neither were designed for those things.

  • progressive guy||

    Oh, of course, they shouldn't be banned. But, surely it can't be too onerous to force all universities to prominently display a warning label on all programs with minimal marketability, to indicate that they are for entertainment purposes only.

    To think, that universities profit by exploiting the gullibility of these poor people. People shouldn't be able to profit from doing things that are bad for society or for other people, like polluting or selling bullshit degrees.

    Also, as a corollary: it's disgusting that we allow people to profit by doing things that are good for society or for other people, like providing food or medicine or useful university degrees. I mean, people need those things!

  • ||

    Those night classes must cost something. And if they're not increasing her earning power, maybe that free time could be better spent working at a 2nd job? Although, you're right to say that there's no reason her budget couldn't include student loan payments as it stands now.

  • Madbiker||

    The Yahoo! article I read said she contemplated getting a 2nd job, but it would endanger her deferment status.

    Poor thing, stuck in a Catch-22!

  • Butts Wagner||

    This is what I was thinking. It sounds like she can afford to make the payments. It might take 15 years to pay off the student loans, but I mean, it is $100K.

  • Zeb||

    I often wonder the same thing. I make a bit more now, but when I was making in the 40k range, I payed off my loans and bought a house and really didn't feel too much pain. Some people just don't get how inexpensive it really is to live. Living in a city doesn't help, I suppose, as there is nothing to do that doesn't cost money.

  • ||

    $750/month rent in San Francisco isn't impossible. It means having roommates, or a small studio in a less-than-ideal neighborhood, or a rent-controlled place you've kept for a number of years.

  • Warty||

    Join the Army

    Too skinny to effectively catch bullets.

  • ||

    I see these people all the time. It's not that hard to get a good office job with any degree from a top tier school (I know investment bankers with English and History degrees). She's just too busy worrying about being a hipster to fool with paying her bills. You can put on a fucking suit and go to work for any number of companies in SF and make bucks after a few years. But that might bust up your street cred with the beard and tight jeans crowd. I only had a tiny amount of debt out of college, but I got a haircut, put on the suit and went to fucking work. I didn't have a career love affair, I wanted to make as much $ as I could for sitting in an office. I kept it real after work and on the weekends. Now I have money in the bank, a condo, nice cars and all the snowboards and skateboards I want. My only debt is the mortgage. My peers, well they have an apartment, a fixed gear bike and shitty teeth from not having money for insurance. I know one guy with an art history degree from a very expensive private university. He drives a fucking milk truck! These people love to bitch and moan, but they have no one to blame but themselves.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    I don't understand the hoots of derision and schadenfreude from the peanut gallery here. People her (and my) age were told all our lives to get good grades, get into the best college available, and get a good job when you graduated. We were told that your major does matter some, but that the marquee on your diploma mattered a lot more. We grew up watching our parents go to night school to get their master's in paper-pushing because their companies couldn't bear to have a competent college drop-out as their [four-word title]. Munna no doubt saw and heard all the same things: the universities proclaimed it, the government subsidized it, and the corporations required it. Why wouldn't she have believed it?

    I should note that hoots of derision from R.C. Dean and Groovus Maximus are especially rich, considering they're part of government cartels protecting them from international and even interstate competition.

  • Warty||

    but that the marquee on your diploma mattered a lot more

    Who the fuck told you that? I have a feeling that my high school guidance counselor might have said something like that, but I never listened to that ineffectual fucker.

  • marlok||

    Seriously, JP, only a deeply spacy parent would watch her daughter major in something like Women's Studies and not worry about her options post-grad.
    My parents, at least, warned the hell out of me that a degree like this would at best be a springboard for grad school.
    Did you really believe that a degree in Theater was just as valuable as a degree in Engineering or Biology because the marguee was the same? Does anyone?

  • robc||

    Why wouldn't she have believed it?

    Never trust anyone over 30.

  • ||

    "Why wouldn't she have believed it?"

    The weak-minded are highly susceptible to jedi mind tricks.

  • Abdul||

    I don't understand the hoots of derision and schadenfreude from the peanut gallery here. People her (and my) age were told all our lives to get good grades, get into the best college available, and get a good job when you graduated

    I fell for the same bullshit, but I held myself accountable, worked at far less lucrative jobs than this cross-eyed liberal arts grad, and never fell behind in my payments.

    They don't teach personal responsiblity in the ivory tower. You have to learn it mopping up the Starbucks bathroom.

  • T||

    I dunno what you were told. I wasn't told any of that shit. But then, I've got an engineering degree from a state school that the Army paid for.

    You want to learn about women's studies and religion, they've got this thing called a library. Go read. You want to get into debt for $100K, you'd better have some idea how you're going to pay it off besides unicorn farts and puppy breath.

  • The Gobbler||

    "You want to learn about women's studies and religion, they've got this thing called a library the Internet

  • ||

    I think the hoots are more for the course of study than the school. If she had gotten a MBA, engineering, or a basic chemistry / biology degree from NYU for 100,000 dollars, I bet she'd be doing much better.

  • JEP||

    ah, the advantages of having an independent mind and not doing whatever you're told to do...

    who would have thought that a person with a religious and women's studies degree was unemployable?

    She got goods grades, got into a good college, but you can't get a good job without having a marketable degree

    Universities and colleges need to stop offering degrees in subjects that should be hobbies.

    PS. as libertarians, RC and Groovus are actually against those protections from interstate and international competition...

  • Jason||

    Hey, she could get a job as a teacher of religious and women's studies...

  • Zeb||

    She is apparently making 40k a year. That is hardly unemployable. The degree doesn't help any, but I don't think it hurts much. She just thinks she is entitled to live in San Fran and do whatever she wants to.

  • ||

    THEY LIED

  • ||

    I should note that hoots of derision from R.C. Dean and Groovus Maximus are especially rich, considering they're part of government cartels protecting them from international and even interstate competition.

    We at least had the brains to go into debt to get degrees that pay well.

    I'm not going to quit my job to make some pointless protest against the licensing system.

    So what's your point, again?

  • ||

    ^5, neither am I until the benevolent government makes it no longer worth it.

    I'll remember that, JP, if you ever need your spleen removed. :-)

  • ||

    ...or even more so, if he doesn't need it removed...

  • Jersey Patriot||

    I'm not going to quit my job to make some pointless protest against the licensing system.

    So what's your point, again?

    That your expensive degree is about as worthless without the benevolent hand of the state sheltering you from the ravages of the market.

  • ||

    Those lawyers begging for clients in TV commercials, offering free consultation and/or to work on contingency -- must be an illusion.

  • ||

    That your expensive degree is about as worthless without the benevolent hand of the state sheltering you from the ravages of the market.

    The ignorance, it burns.

    Most lawyers don't make all that much money, believe it or not. The market is red in tooth and claw amongst lawyers, regardless of the guild.

    Lawyering skills have some value to people, regardless of our little guild system. Doctoring skills, even more.

    Claiming that I couldn't make a good living lawyering without the guild, well, I doubt it. What I do, the guild has very little to do with, in fact.

  • SIV||

    DUI? Call RC!

  • ||

    Agree with many of the posters above. My parents didn't give me hardly any advice growing up, but the one thing they drilled into my head was how much more valuable an engineering degree was than a liberal arts degree.

    I'm not sure who told you that the marquee mattered more, but they were probably someone you shouldn't have been listening to.

  • SIV||

    I should note that hoots of derision from R.C. Dean and Groovus Maximus are especially rich, considering they're part of government cartels protecting them from international and even interstate competition.

    Not cartels but guilds

  • TXLimey||

    Obviously we need a commission to investigate the predatory enrollment practices of Big College.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Why oh why do I have to be exposed to these stupid people. It's no wonder these people all want a nanny state. they freakin' act like children. "Gee, I didn't foresee the consequense of spend 100K to major in religion and womens studies." How about instead you hit a lesbian bar on Saturdays, Church on Sundays, and spend your week studying something that will make you a productive member of society? Aaargh.

  • Ska||

    LOL

  • Warty||

    This reminds me of my cousin. She wanted to go to beauty school when she finished high school, but my aunt was determined that she would be a proper feminist woman and go to college. 8 years later, my cousin graduated with a degree in theatrical lighting and 80k in debt. I think she's an assistant manager at a paint store or something now. Way to go, auntie.

  • Steve Nash Equilibrium||

    I never figured out where the concept of equating college education with being successful. I doubt for most people that going to college to get a liberal arts degree over going to a trade school is a good financial decision.

  • T||

    There are days I think my initial plan of going to trade school to learn how to fix motorcycles might have been a better idea. At least I wouldn't spend my days arguing with clueless people about basic physics or waiting for the Argentinian of the week to tell me why I'm wrong.

  • ||

    It is going to be the death of us if we don't stop it. The women in this story would probably make a fine hair cutter or painter or some skilled but not heavy labor manufacturing job. Instead, she wasted four productive years and tens of thousands of dollars and still has to be trained to do anything productive.

  • Madbiker||

    College degrees indicate some attainment of membership in the Elite, I think, at least for parents/families who have never been to college. College degrees were seen as some ticket to an easy life of higher earnings and low-stress, white-collar jobs, not the drudgery of welding or installing electrical equipment or cutting hair or being a nurse (absent a BSN). But the welders, electricians, beauticians, and nurses I know (I'm related to two or more of each) are all happy and successful people who enjoy their jobs. One of the welders left a cushy job and six figures managing the NOC at AT&T so he could be happier at work - took a 50% paycut but comes home satisfied that he did good, honest, visible work.

    But you know, pride in your work is only cold comfort for the drudgery that comes along with being dirty and hot and never having any ease in your day.

    Office work is stressful, more stressful than any job I had in retail or waiting tables or stressing over monthly bills. But, you get to dress up fancy and work in the AC, so you must be doing alright (at least better than those sweaty independent electricians who love their jobs and make 100K a year).

  • ||

    They love their jobs in their 20s and 30s but no so much when they get older. The problem with jobs that require a lot of physical labor is that they wear your body down. My father in law is a retire electrician who did quite well. His body is completely shot. Thirty years of crawling around through crawl spaces will do that.

  • Warty||

    No kidding. A buddy of mine spent 7 years getting his mechanical engineering degree, and I'm pretty sure he only stuck with it because his welder dad kept telling him not to be a welder.

  • Zeb||

    When only a fairly small minority got college degrees, they were worth something and were a pretty good indication that you would be successful. Now that most people get them, they don't really distinguish you much anymore, particularly if it is not in a productive field. So you actually have to work and demonstrate that you are good at something.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I never figured out where the concept of equating college education with being successful. I doubt for most people that going to college to get a liberal arts degree over going to a trade school is a good financial decision.


    Indeed.

    Liberal arts degrees, at best, prepare people for a career as a teacher.

  • The Gobbler||

    "It was a stupid move by their lender, according to Mr. Pemberton. "They went outside their own guidelines on debt to income," he said. "And when they did, they put themselves in jeopardy."

    That's one way of looking at it."

    It's an accurate way. Take a credit card company. When they loan you money, via a line of credit at say, 26%APR, they are effectively saying that they believe that investing in you will produce a return of 26% per year, ad infinitum. How many other investments vehicles are out there that can consistantly, year after year, provide that kind of a return? Not even Bernie Madoff would make such an outlandish had you invested in him.

    But here's what's wrong abiout this practice: If I invest in cattle futures and they go belly up, I lose the money I invested, but if a bank invests money in you and you go belly up, they will force you into bankruptcy and likely get a partial return of the money they invested in you.

    Now when you consider that for a while there (and maybe even now) banks issued credit cards to people with no job and zero assets, I have to say that "it was a stupid move by their lender."

  • #||

    "Take a credit card company. When they loan you money, via a line of credit at say, 26%APR, they are effectively saying that they believe that investing in you will produce a return of 26% per year, ad infinitum."

    Thats the pre-loss, pre fixed cost rate of return. Credit card chage that much because they are not secured and are revolving and they also have high fixed costs related to marketting to get you to open new accounts. Banks charge off about 4-6 percent of all credit card loans on average compared to about 1 percent for redidential mortgages (prior to this current crisis anyway). Credit cards often also have fraud coverage limiting the card holders liability. The after loss rate of return on credit crads for banks is about the same as any other kind of loan.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    When they loan you money, via a line of credit at say, 26%APR, they are effectively saying that they believe that investing in you will produce a return of 26% per year, ad infinitum. How many other investments vehicles are out there that can consistantly, year after year, provide that kind of a return? Not even Bernie Madoff would make such an outlandish had you invested in him.


    They make very little from me because I pay credit card bills in full every month.

  • ||

    This story also puts lie to this whole "creative class" bullshit. The line in the 00s is that the future of this country was in people like this woman no kidding. We were all going to get rich, not making things but being creative and writing and thinking. The hipsters were going to be the economic future. What bullshit. Sorry, but you can't build an economy based on everyone writing scripts for 30 Rock and raising money for Greenpeace.

  • Michael||

    If you think the "creative class" has hit a dead end, you're sorely mistaken. The girl in the article is still young and dumb and hasn't figured out how to game the system with her bullshit credentials. I see a consulting position in her future; probably in some public school capacity.

  • ||

    When the states and local governments go bankrupt followed by the feds if we are not lucky, how exactly are those positions going to be funded? You can't build an economy on bullshit.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    You'll still have to take into account the cultural sensitivities of the oppressed (or is it repressed) members of the workforce.

    Do you think a complete economic collapse is going to eradicate the socially conscious from our ranks?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Do you think a complete economic collapse is going to eradicate the socially conscious from our ranks?


    They would be eaten.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Winner.

    This homely squaw is destined for the field of workplace gender and religious sensitivity consulting. Sprinkle in some community organizing for good measure.

  • Joe_D||

    You people are looking at this all wrong. Worthless majors and high student loans provide young women desperate for a well-off man (i.e., sugar daddy). This provides good sex for older men... a group many of us are in or will be in at some point.

    Bad loans might lead to higher interest rates and taxes, but if they provide young girls for older men... I'm willing to pay the price.

  • Tim||

    Well, it's not like this one is going to out smart you either.

  • ||

    You know my neighbor's daughter just came back from college. She has a degree in PR. And she is looking for a job. And is very good looking. Kind of makes you kick yourself for getting married. I am thinking she would be really happy to meet a nice guy in his late 30s with my income.

  • ||

    This provides good sex for older men... a group many of us are in or will be in at some point.

    older wealthy men. Which I'm not at all confident any of us currently in our early 30s will ever be.

  • zoltan||

    I am thinking she would be really happy to meet a nice guy in his late 30s with my income.

    A lot of women in debt would probably rather be in debt that have to look at saggy balls, a balding head, and wrinkly features.

  • margaret||

    What the heck is 'Womens and religious studies'? I ask that as someone with a useless degree in Theology.

    When I wanted to major in Theology my parents said 'fine - as long as you double major in business as well'. Which of course I did. Guess which major I am using now? Business of course.

    Worst case scenario with a degree in Theology I could get a job teaching religion at a private school. But a degree in 'Womens and religious studies' is truly useless.

  • Tim||

    After the collapse of civilization, these are the people who will be wandering around waiting for somebody to feed clothe and shelter them.
    30 days after the collapse they won't be such a problem...

  • In Time Of War||

    After the collapse I intend to become a cannibal and live off these folks. I figure it's only fair.

  • JEP||

    I study women all the time, and I don't need no fancy degree.

  • ||

    Of course she has to stand posed with her so-unhip-that-it's-hip bike. I hope the dumb twat catches her scarf in the chain and strangles herself.

    Comments like this are why I can't seem to shut the computer off and actually do something.

  • ||

    she wasted four productive years and tens of thousands of dollars and still has to be trained to do anything productive.

    "This is what we call a 'broom'. You hold it like this, with the prickly end down. Then you slide it along the floor, capturing the mud from people's shoes and all the little scraps of paper, and the pennies the customers have thrown at you. Next time, we'll talk about the 'dust pan'. I think you probably have enough to absorb, for today."

  • ||

    *insert mopping scene from Coming To America*

  • Fluffy||

    In other news, Obama is consulting with James Cameron on what to do about the BP leak.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories.....1297.shtml

    I would feel a lot better about this if they brought in Michael Bay instead.

    Michael Bay would know what to do here. He wouldn't fuck around.

  • ||

    Bumblebee could plug that hole in no time.

  • Abdul||

    'splosions caused the spill, 'splosions will fix it.

  • Fluffy||

    "Those fish you were worried about?" Click, fffffuuuwhump. "No longer a problem."

  • Barry O||

    Let me be clear. We are going to nuke the site from orbit. It is the only way to be sure.

  • ||

    The Russians actually closed some of their blown wells with subsurface nukes, back in the day.

  • Steve Nash Equilibrium||

    If we pray to Eywa, she will save us.

  • Mokers||

    James Cameron can't write a script to save his life, but he does have a lot of experience with manned deep-sea submersibles. I don't think he can throw anything together in enough time to help out the current disaster, but this is better than, say, asking Sean Penn about flood rescue logistics:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/wor.....36185.html

  • Chipotle||

    College degrees were seen as some ticket to an easy life of higher earnings and low-stress, white-collar jobs

    That was the case in my house. But not to go all 'My Dad' on her, at that age I was well into repaying my student loans, realizing that I had made a mistake but was moving on with my life. 26 is the new 15.

  • ||

    "If they took the house from us, that's all they would end up getting for it anyway," said Ms. Reboyras, 46.

    Don't discount the immense satisfaction they'd derive from knowing you're living in your car.

  • ||

    It was a stupid move by their lender, according to Mr. Pemberton. "They went outside their own guidelines on debt to income," he said. "And when they did, they put themselves in jeopardy."

    Or, in the immortal words of Otter: "You fucked up... you trusted us!"

  • WTF||

    These days a bachelor's degree is only slightly more marketable and valuable than a high school diploma. It's expected. Time was when only the "upper crust" went on to college and got a full four-year degree. For most people, college was viewed as getting "over-educated". These days you need a four-year degree to do nearly anything, and most employers seem to expect it for anyone above the guy scrubbing the toilets.

    You think this story is sad? Take a look at what's going on in all the law schools across the country. Tens of thousands of people graduating with maybe $200K in debt, thinking they're gonna be hotshot attorneys in big firms, with big offices and fat paychecks, only to be hit in the face with the hard reality that right now, law firms mostly ain't hiring. And the rare law jobs that are available aren't paying what you think they are.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    You think this story is sad? Take a look at what's going on in all the law schools across the country. Tens of thousands of people graduating with maybe $200K in debt, thinking they're gonna be hotshot attorneys in big firms, with big offices and fat paychecks, only to be hit in the face with the hard reality that right now, law firms mostly ain't hiring. And the rare law jobs that are available aren't paying what you think they are.


    Maybe they should have went into the JAG Corps.

  • ||

    Back in the day, women could major in worthless subjects, because they were intended to marry rich men and have intellectual discussions at coctail parties.

    But I can't understand how a feminist would think that would work.

    Did she think she was going to a marry a lesbian, and impress her lebian lover's business clients with her accumen?

  • ||

    Back in the day it didn't cost 100K to attend college.

  • ||

    Yeah, christ, which Rich Guy wants to listen to prattle about women's studies.

  • ||

    Borrowing 100K for a "With Fries?" degree is a plain and simple act of self destruction.

    This is not the first time such a thing has happened, just the first time the NY Times has a target that they want to shoot at using this moron as ammunition.

    They want to make it look like Citibank is sitting around lurking in the liberal arts colleges waiting for innocent waifs to fall into their evil clutches like some white slaver.

    What is really happening is a 26 year old girl (who can't do math) chose to get a degree from a very expensive college in a field of study that is essentially an employment dead end.

    If that wasn't stupid enough, then she decides to move to the most expensive city in the US (and one of the 10 most expensive in the world) and take a job making $22/hr; where she finally wakes up to the reality that she is boned. SURPRISE!!! Does she not realize that at $22/hr, her lifestyle is LOWER than people here in Omaha making half that in a telemarketing firm?

    As for the comment that the banks and colleges should do more, they should. They should be required to do honest brokerage. A college that offers majors in fields like engineering and fields like hers should not treat both kinds of students the same. A decently trained EE student is looking at $50K or more a year after school. A decently trained womens studies major is looking at minimum wage plus tips at Applebees.

    Banks and colleges should not just pour money on these kids, and they wouldn't if they had to put some of their skin into the game. If banks had to hold the student loan paper for 6 years after graduation before letting it go to the federal program, or if colleges could seriously lose RO1 grant money based on the number of idiot loans their financial aid people made, you would see the end of this. And it would end really really fast.

    BTW, how does she afford the tattoo and the $3000 bike on $22/hr?

  • ||

    I am not a bike head so forgive me if this is a stupid question. Is that seriously a $3,000 bike?

    And good point about her living in San Francisco. My guess is that she would have much better job prospects and a much better chance of paying her loans off if she would move to some place like Omaha or Oklahoma City where the economy hasn't totally crashed and living and taxes are cheap. Fat chance of some hipster doing that.

  • ||

    I gonna bet BRM meant Three Hundred dollars, a reasonable price for a new bike. But hey, maybe she did buy a LanceSpecial or something. You can spend waytoomuch on pretty much any sort of product if you try hard enough. (See: The $1000 Hamburger, Alienware PCs, etc)

  • BakedPenguin||

    Point taken, but there are far fewer photographers who can pay assistants $22 / hour in Omaha.

  • ||

    She could probably get a better job than that in Omaha. The California economy is terrible.

  • ChrisO||

    The problem with that is that the wages in someplace like Omaha or OKC are also much lower. But the student loan payments stay the same. It ends up being a wash. I know, because my wife and I were in that situation with school debt. We looked longingly at cheapo places like San Antonio, but there was no realistic way to make enough money in those cities.

    San Francisco might be an extreme example the other way, though. If this woman is only taking night classes just for the deferment value, than she's really an idiot. She should be pursuing some kind of practical skills training with that time. Being in the Bay Area, hopefully something tech-related.

  • Madbiker||

    Not sure about bike being $3,000. Most bikes in that price range have sleeker components and sturdier wheels (fewer spokes = more $$, less weight for more strength) and drive trains that don't look so "Wal-Mart."

    Also, if she were truly hip, she would be riding a fixie with clipless or straight up flats, not a double with toe clips. Silly poseur tweet!

  • Apple||

  • ||

    "Beyond my education itself, I learned how to survive in New York City."

    Reasons why I hate New Yorkers. Why is "learning how to survive in New York City" considered a skill to be proud of? It is a city not the Kilahari. And it is not a particularly dangerous one at that. Most New Yorkers I know would have a nervous breakdown if you put them out in the middle of nowhere out West. But they think "surviving in New York" is some kind of badge of honor.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah. Survival in a place where anything you could possibly think of is withing walking distance is really tough.

  • Ska||

    Don't blame the New Yorkers - blame the people who move there.

  • ||

    Seems reasonable. Not sure why we're pissing all over this chick.

    Now her parents on the other hand...

  • ||

    "Not sure why we're pissing all over this chick."

    Because that is how we roll around here.

  • #||

    yeah, she is saying shes willing to take reponsibility for her choices and pay back her loans. She's not blaming the lenders. Think its just the NYT that put that kind of spin on it.

  • ||

    "I’m an alumna of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I created my own interdisciplinary program in collaboration with an adviser. It involved courses from a variety of departments, including religious studies, gender studies, sociology, psychology plus several interdisciplinary and writing seminars. I had to defend my concentration in front of a panel of professors before graduating.

    My program was by no means a vocational education, but it was academically rigorous and helped prepare me for innumerable future careers (though it’s true that I probably won’t be an accountant, doctor or Wall Street executive)"

    Although she is not a deadbeat. She still totally doesn't get it. Who cares that her program was rigorous. Lots of things are rigorous. Try learning ancient Greek sometime. That is a lot harder than anything she did. But, being rigorous doesn't make the knowledge marketable. Keeping the flame of learning alive is what the idle rich do not what someone who has to borrow money to go to college does.

  • ||

    I disagree. Professional careers aren't necessarily staffed by people with specific training in that profession. Organizational and critical thinking skills are the baseline requirements for many entry level positions.

    Just not for those that typically pay back 100K loans in under 20 years.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This.

    Getting liberal arts degrees are not about the knowledge gained, but about the critical skills one cannot get otherwise. Those are the truly useful skills for one coming out of college.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    To describe my degree as “women’s studies and religious studies” doesn’t really do it justice... I created my own interdisciplinary program in collaboration with an adviser. It involved courses from a variety of departments, including religious studies, gender studies, sociology, psychology plus several interdisciplinary and writing seminars.

    Sweet, a pre-left degree.

  • marlok||

    All the degree-creators I knew were simply taking a combination of introductory and intermediate classes from different departments to avoid the wrath of 300 and 400 level courses.

  • ||

    Bullcrap.

    She spent four years taking classes in whatever she felt like, tossed them all into a bucket, stirred, and called it an interdisciplinary program.

    If she was actually serious about the nexus of those subjects she should have gone on to graduate school and published some papers. The fact that she got a bachelor's degree and quit shows she was just studying them for fun.

  • Madbiker||

    Exactly, Hazel. I don't tend to think of W/R Studies as the kind of degree that is terminal at the baccalaureate level. This is a true "scholars" degree that is intended to lead to advanced study in some area that the academy deems important enough to allow her into graduate school.

  • Kevin||

    Cortney needs to take my advice and Get a government job! She will then be able to utilize her useless degree just as much as her fellow colleagues’ are utilizing theirs.

  • ||

    Perhaps a mandatory paper on people's major choice and it's career implications should have to be completed before anyone can pick a major.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Or before they accept financing.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    So am I the only liberal arts major on this board?

  • SIV||

    No

  • ||

    Nope. Philosophy and History (Honors).

    My philosophy degree was about the best possible preparation for law school.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    No. An MA in medieval English lit. But I'm beginning to feel that I'm about the only one who sees value in a college education beyond usingnit as job training.

  • ChrisO||

    No, I've always valued the things I learned in pursuing a history degree, and I knew at the time that it wasn't going to lead directly to employment prospects.

    There is also something to be said for "learning to learn."

    The problem comes when people amass huge debt in getting such an education. You can get a perfectly good liberal arts education at State University and not end up with student loan debt the size of a healthy mortgage payment.

    I'd be curious to know why Cortney Munna chose NYU over a state school.

  • Madbiker||

    You're not, mlg, but the job marketed is distorted.

    You are correct: the academy was not set up to prepare undergraduates for job training/entry, it was set up to prepare pre-professional students for careers in medicine or law, and to allow other serious scholars a way to explore fields and enter into higher, more focused study in some academic discipline with perceived value to furthering the understanding and progress of the human experience. At least that is my somewhat romanticized view of it.

    But consider that to get even an entry-level receptionist or admin assistant job at a moderately sized company, one needs a college degree. At least in the greater NY metro area, that is the general requirement. When I was scouting for my first full-time job while still in college, most employers wanted degreed applicants just to fill "girl-pool" type jobs: typing, answering phones, running presentations while the boss talked, and managing files.

    I don't know when the degree demand got started, but I knew I would be hard pressed to find a job without one. (I know now that is not true, and I'm glad I went to college, but considering how stressful so many of my office jobs were, I wonder if I shouldn't have taken up a trade in heavy machinery. There is tremendous satisfaction in ripping out stumps and asphalt with a trac-hoe).

  • Michael Ejercito||

    No. An MA in medieval English lit. But I'm beginning to feel that I'm about the only one who sees value in a college education beyond usingnit as job training.


    If it was just for education, you could achieve that more cheaply by browsing books at the library and posts on Usenet and Internet forums.

  • ChrisO||

    History major here. But not from a ruinously expensive private college.

    History was the subject I was most interested in, and the undergrad degree was obviously necessary for law school. Not that it had much practical value before I decided to go to law school.

    One thing I find interesting is that there exists a large group of 20-somethings who think they are entitled to high-paying jobs, merely by holding a degree. Anything you do as a 20-something is entry-level by necessity. Even if you have a technical degree, you don't really know how to do anything of high value right out of college (or even grad school), simply because you lack experience.

    I would like to see young people being better advised about not expecting to start out at the top. Learning it after you've incurred $100k+ in school debt is a very hard lesson.

  • Joshua||

    Nope. I have a degree in - get this - Letters.

  • ||

    So am I the only liberal arts major on this board?

    No. My (expensive, but not ruinously so) degree from a small-yet-extremely-hoity-toity private school in International Relations never made me a dime, either. But I had a really good time.

  • ||

    So am I the only liberal arts major on this board?

    BA in Math and Economics. And a full career in software development.

    I know a great deal of software developers who don't have CS degrees. They mostly just turned a talent into a career.

  • ||

    Is math considered liberal arts? At my school it was under the School of Science.

    In any case, it doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with history, English, or gander studies.

  • ||

    I took the BA Math route, which had lighter requirements and no physics. Offered in the same school as the BS degree.

    I don't know if BA = Liberal Arts, but I always equated it as such.

  • marlok||

    I don't think gender studies deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as english and history.

  • Tim||

    I know a great deal of software developers who don't have CS degrees. They mostly just turned a talent into a career.

    I know.

    I am a software developer with an electrical engineering degree.

  • LubiWanKanubi||

    "homely squaw" put me over the top. Excellent work, Subsidize Me.

  • SIV||

    I went to college free because I ace all standardized tests.Liberal Arts education further honed my skills at test-taking. Not a very valuable talent in the real world though.

  • Joshua||

    ^this

  • attorney||

    Can we call you as an expert witness? Dr. Groovus Maximus, knowledgeable expert on 'Stupid bitch' syndrome. ;-)

  • ||

    If you want to take history, or philospy etc that's fine. But assuming you aren't going to law school, why not minor in it, or do a double major

    But make sure you get the skills you need to get a job.

  • AJs||

    $22/hr for a freaking photography assistant... an ASSISSTANT!!!! She is not even the photographer... $22/hr x 2080 (annual work hours at 40/hr wk) = $45,760/annually for a job that hardly requires skilled labor. That's 4x the poverty line for an unmarried person with no children.

    She amassed $100k debt over the course of 4 years... so? Sounds like she quit too early... I don't know anything about religious or womens studies, but I would imagine if you were going to make that your professional career choice, you would need to have at least a masters, and likely a PhD. From there your best hope would likely be becoming a university professor... teaching those subjects and trying to get published. So really... she is the one who screwed up in not following this thing through to the end.

  • ||

    At $45,000 per year she can probably pay that off in 5 years if she just keeps living like a student.

  • DDavis||

    I wish people would remember that the government made special rules for student loans, exempting them from exposure to the bankruptcy laws most all other debts are liable to. So much vitriol for the young woman, not so much for the lenders with their government subsidized market and special exemptions from the civil law everyone else has to deal with.

    This distortion of the market is just a different version of the implicit government backing of mortgages, and will have the same result; the government bought the bad mortgages from the lenders, they'll buy the bad student loans from the lenders too. And then a variety of programs will be pushed to write off that debt.

  • Angry Sam||

    $22 an hour right out of college with a humanities degree? And she's COMPLAINING?!

  • Mike||

    Right on! She probably doesn't work 40 hours a week though, that's just too strenuous.

    Maybe she should could get a second job, like everybody else.

  • evilmonger||

    Apparently they didn't teach anything about how to look like a woman in women's studies.

  • hmm||

    I have a hard time weeping for humanities undergraduates that didn't immediately get a graduate degree in something not completely useless. It's like handicapping yourself right out of the gate.

    As a note why in the fuck would someone front 100k for someone to get a humanities degree. That's like buying ocean front property in Colorado. The person lending is as dumb as the person borrowing in this case. Couple those two with the stupid school who offered the degree and you have a a trifecta of stupidity. Or stupid cubed.

  • marysanzia||

    Mortgage Loan Modification is the only solution to save your home and stop foreclosure. Some 650,000 troubled borrowers have been put into trial loan modifications under the president's foreclosure rescue plan, the Treasury Department said Tuesday. That number represents only 20% of eligible homeowners. Mortgage Home Modification Program is the solution to save your house and stop foreclosure process Use this free tool to see if you qualify for loan modification http://bit.ly/bCkrEu

  • JB||

    When the shit hits the fan, I will derive at least some enjoyment from watching these fetuses scream.

  • ||

    "an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women's studies" WTF! My, what a totally USELESS degree, I'm laffing & laffing & laffingk!!!!!! What a stupid mole. 4 Years, $100K = $22/hour, what a fugwit...

  • Madbiker||

    I can't help but think that my own experience coupled with the student loan debacle that is this woman's life will only make us better prepared to guide our kids into sane and intelligent decisions about post-secondary education.

    Our kids get three options:
    - military after high school, but make sure you have good enough grades and high ASFAB scores so you can angle yourself for a good post-military career (and get it all in writing before you sign enlistment papers);
    - career of some kind; make sure your high school grades were high and any technical courses you took were targeted towards the career you want
    - college; if you want college, great, but get excellent marks so you receive some scholarship money to off-set the enormous cost of sending you to college. And remember not to party too hard, sweetheart.

    One is 18 months and the other is not yet born. I think we can do a good job of indoctrinating them with these expectations if we start early enough.

  • Kahlil Gibran||

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.

  • Micah||

    Kids have tons of options. School can be a great idea, but the indoctrination they receive in high school that this is the only way to make a decent living is not only wrong, here's a good example of how it can be damaging.

    That said, I hold anyone who buys into societies myths as responsible as society itself.

    You can be poor with a college degree as easily as you can be rich without one. Don't underestimate your capabilities and the wide variety of opportunity available. Both will surprise you if you give it half a chance.

    School is expensive but is a tool. If you don't understand that you're paying $100,000 for something that should net you more than what you put into it, that's your fault. Oops.

  • Justen Robertson||

    A bank does assume some of the risk when entering into a mortgage agreement. Though I'm typically dogmatic about people owning up to their debts, a secured loan has an "or" clause to it: "pay what you borrowed OR turn over the property". I can't find it in me to be outraged that for once the borrower instead of the lender is using that "or" to his advantage. The only thing that bothers me here is that they are still living in the home after having chosen to surrender it to the bank - a function of state force rather than contract terms, which I despise.

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