Canceling Student Debt

(Sharing the letter to President Biden I just sent via Student Debt Crisis Center)

Dear President Biden,

I have a ridiculously high amount of student debt because I was told all my life that education was the way to get a good paying job. I graduated undergrad in 2008 and went to grad school because, surely, that was the right thing to do during a recession when I couldn’t find a job. Student loans were “good debt,” right? And then after my Master’s, I struggled to find a job and decided that I loved academia and wanted to get a PhD. I got a partial scholarship, but had to take out loans for the rest.

Now here I am, nearly 8 years post-PhD, muddling through life with part-time, short-term contracts, struggling to find a job in academia. I work 3 part-time freelance roles in teaching, proofreading, and data analysis. None of them use my expertise. I feel like a failure. And that failure has cost me $260,587.78 (currently–with over $32,000 of that being capitalized interest).

I will never live to pay it off. On my income driven repayment plan, I’m currently not being asked to pay anything. Like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I’m worth more dead than alive, because at least when I die, my loans will be forgiven (I know that’s not the message Capra intended, but that line hit close to home).

Please forgive as much as possible. My situation is not unique. The majority of the people who would benefit from loan forgiveness are women and people of color–the people who voted for you. The people who were told all their lives that education was the answer, that student loans were “good debt.” It’s not. We’re drowning. Please help.

Dr. Molly Bettie, PhD (might as well use the title when I can…)

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