Why Is It So Important To Graduate Without Student Loans?

Why Is It So Important To Graduate Without Student Loans?

I want to save as many others as I can in my time on this earth, and in order to do so, I must be safe myself.
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Two weeks ago, I wrote the first article in what I'm calling my “college without debt” series. In tracking my own journey toward a debt-free college degree, I am hoping to show students in my own generation that college doesn't have to leave us with the dreadful student loan payment that oh-so-many adults have told us are the "way of life." I want to show the older generation that we aren't a “give me” generation, but rather that we are a “let me help with that” generation, looking to be the very best that we can be. And I want to do all this in a way that explains how other students, with aspirations such as my own, can get through college the same way.

I'm not going to try to make it sound like this is an easy journey by any means. I'm also not writing any of these articles for the sake of bragging about what I'm doing. I simply want to prove that it's possible to get through college without debt. This week, I want to answer one very important question I've been asked about my journey: Why? Why do I have the goal to graduate debt free?

One of the most common follow ups to the question “Why?” that I hear is, “That's what student loans are there for.” It's expected that if you decide to seek out secondary education straight out of high school, you'll be signing loan papers. That's the accepted way to do college. According to a CNN report, in 2014, 40 million Americans have at least one outstanding student loan, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 20.2 million students were expected to attend college in the fall of 2015. Most of those 40 million are likely still paying those loans today, as well as many of those 20.2 million that took out student loans. And, most importantly, US News reports that, although the standard plan for repayment of federal student loans is 10 years, “research has shown the average bachelor's degree holder takes 21 years to pay off his or her loans.” I hope you're already seeing a reason for my rhetoric.

Not only does taking out student loans put you in debt for years (even decades), it's also a stressful process. There are many different kinds of loans, such as subsidized or unsubsidized, federal or private, Stafford or Perkin, and the list goes on and on. Personally, I have two options: Cash or check. And, since apparently you aren’t supposed to walk around with 50 $100 bills in your backpack, the latter is really my only option. Yes, I have a college fund, which has a process for taking money out of, as well as process for putting money into in the first place, but I didn't have to worry about legal trouble. Another plus was that the money I paid involved interest, and it was interest which worked for my benefit, rather than against me, in the long run.

My final, and personally, the most important reason for graduating without debt is that it's teaching me fiscal responsibility in order to live right in the future. I grew up listening to money expert Dave Ramsey in the car with my parents. I have always loved his slogan: “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Not only does graduating without debt save me from having to pay that back later (along with the interest on the loans), but it's also teaching me how to make money, save money, and eventually I will be able to give money in love for others. A drowning man cannot save another drowning man. I want to save as many others as I can in my time on this earth, and in order to do so, I must be safe myself.

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.
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I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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I'm Supporting Toni Preckwinkle For Mayor Of Chicago And You Should, Too

Chicago is at a historical crossroads with this election, and Toni is the best choice for this moment.

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Earlier this year, I announced my endorsement for Amara Enyia for the February 26 Chicago mayoral election.

Unfortunately, Amara did not win, and with the election gone, we now have two candidates that will advance to an additional runoff election on Tuesday, April 2: Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

While I do have my reservations for both of these candidates, who will guarantee that Chicago's next mayor will be a black woman, given the history of both of these candidates on the issues facing the city, one of them seems to come on top as being the best out of the two.

And that woman is Toni Preckwinkle.

With the mayoral election not turning out as planned, Chicago could see up to 5 progressives join the ranks of City Council. Even if the top jobs end up to be the worst-case scenario, there seems to be a sizable resistance against that should it ever be needed.

With that being said, Toni Preckwinkle is the best candidate in this race because she is not tied to a deeply tied history with the police that enables some of Chicago's longstanding and infamous segregation. And while her history of taking full credit for bringing justice for Laquan McDonald is troubling, she opposes the building of the controversial $95 million cop academy, establish an office of criminal justice, and hold Chicago Police accountable in order to end the culture of the code of silence within the police department.

Lori Lightfoot, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. While Lightfoot touts her time on the Chicago Police board as proof she's held cops accountable, the fact of the matter is that only 21 cops were fired under her 3-year tenure on the board. Moreover, she's also been known for chastising the families of Ronald Johnson, Rekia Boyd, and Bettie Jones at a board hearing, threatening them to leave.

This is also not to mention that Lightfoot has been buddying up with conservative Aldermen Nicholas Sposato and Anthony Napolitano, the former of which has come under fire for hurling racist name-calling towards Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. Lightfoot's inability to denounce these two men is very concerning given her claims to be a progressive.

So at the end of the day, the choice between these two candidates seems clear. Toni Preckwinkle is perhaps our best bet if we want to put Chicago on a more progressive track.

Both of these candidates are problematic in their own right, but from the looks of it, Lightfoot's history seems much rockier than Preckwinkle's. And with the next mayor having to choose to continue or clean up Rahm Emanuel's mess, it seems that Lori will continue it.

Preckwinkle is endorsed.

The Chicago runoff election is on Tuesday, April 2.

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