By Sarah Wright
Are You the 99%?
Not much about Occupy Wall Street is official. As a movement, it eschews appointing formal leaders, and doesn't rely on a hierarchal structure to organize. This, among other factors, has resulted in some media confusion about just what the movement is all about. For those who are paying attention, though, one key factor is clear. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors are aware of the massive wealth disparity in the U.S., citing a statistic that indicates that just one percent of our countrymen control 40% of the nation's wealth.
That leaves, of course, 99% of the nation to deal with the leftovers. And as many have felt recently, those leftovers are pretty paltry. This statistic helped give birth to the unofficial OWS slogan: We Are the 99%. A tumblr was created to give voice and bring attention to struggling individuals in the 99%. On this blog, individuals typically post photos of themselves with handwritten notes detailing their financial struggles. And often, those struggles include financial and personal problems relating to education.
Student Loans and the 99%
Student loan debt is a major issue in the nation. The prospect of holding major debt may be keeping some students from even attempting to attend college. And for many college graduates, poor job prospects and heavy debt are leading to wonder about whether college was even worth it in the first place. Whether you agree with the OWS movement or not, chances are good that you have some student loan debt. According to The Wall Street Journal, the total amount of owed student loan debt now surpasses credit card debt among U.S. citizens. And unlike credit card debt, you can't erase student debt by declaring bankruptcy.
There's a sense of hopelessness surrounding the idea of paying back loans now, and though it's not entirely as bad as it seems - extreme cases get attention precisely because they are so extreme - it's still a problem. College is an important part of getting a leg up in the job market for many career fields. But with many parents unable to pay out of pocket for school, and many students loath to take out loans they may be saddled with for years to come, will social mobility and the by-the-bootstraps foundation of 'the American Dream' be impacted?
What Do You Think?
If the thought of taking on student debt in an uncertain job market is making you nervous, just remember that it's up to you to make the most out of your education.