Student Loans

I work as a financial aid officer here in Memphis and if anything gets me heated it is this student loan chaos.  I myself have racked up quite a bit of student loan debt but only because I have never been eligible for a Pell Grant…because I actually work and make a decent living.  The fact that I’m an independent woman (and no, I don’t say that with an attitude..just husbandless) with no children and  support myself just enough to get by every month, the government says they don’t want to let me in on this freely flowing money so many are able to get semester after semester.  Did you know that if you can truthfully answer yes to the question, “Do you receive food stamps?”, you are automatically eligible to get the FULL Pell Grant?!  Have you ever been at risk for being homeless?  Not sure what that means but yea…full Pell Grant there too.  The kicker is, even if you don’t answer questions such as these truthfully, there is a 50% you will still get away with it and receive this hefty “award” all throughout your college career.  So I guess besides having an income and not having any children, you have to be honest too.  Not saying all people that qualify for grants are the opposite of these things because I have witnessed responsible students.  I guess the thing that gets to me the most is that so many people take this privilege for granted.  You know how I know this? On top of getting a Pell Grant that can pay for more than HALF of your tuition (and the amounts are increasing yearly), people are still choosing to max out their student loans on top of this so they can live off of that refund check every semester.  Working full time and going to school is just out of the question.  What once was meant to help students avoid the black hole of life-long debt  has now become an enabler to do just so.  I am a daily witness to people literally depending on these checks to keep the lights on…a loan that is meant for education.  The same loan that I will soon run out of (there is a lifetime max of undergrad loans) to actually pay for my education.  I am sitting here worried that I won’t be able to finish my college career before I hit the limit while others are waiting on that money twice a year to buy the newest flat-screen.  It’s just crazy that people are voluntarily building debt when our government that everybody hates is actually willing to help.  Take advantage of this hand-out people!!! Because there are those of us out there that will never know the feeling. That is all:)