The dream school, the debt school

Today the Village Voice came very close to home with an article about NYU student debt, which is the highest in the country. Is the education really worth all the interest and the headaches?

No. Unless you become a successful filmmaker/actor/creative superstar right after college, writer Nick Pinto suggests.

On the flip side, if you are like the wretched NYU grad Pinto dubs “Lyndsey,” (a subject too paranoid to be identified by her real name), you may become a  blubbering film alum living a “a blurred, twilight existence” between 70-hour work weeks that have nothing to do with the field you studied at NYU.

“It’s pretty murderous,” Lyndsey says. “There’s no time in my day to think, to breathe, to eat, to shop for groceries. Weekends I try to catch up on laundry, get groceries, cook as much as possible, and see my friends if I can.”

Still, the punishing work schedule was better than the alternatives Lyndsey sometimes considered. “I’m basically trying to avoid the more extreme ways of doing it: stripping and prostitution,” she says. “Stuff you can’t tell your parents and your friends about.”

Yikes, stripping and prostitution??

Later Pinto playfully rehashes some of the standard arguments about NYU’s soaring student debt rates: NYU is fundamentally an endowment-poor commuter school trying to buy its way into the big leagues with undergrad tuition. And the starry-eyed 18 year olds who agree to those terms are trying to buy (or borrow) a fast track to the big time as well:  A degree from Manhattan’s most powerful purple monster is supposed to look good on applications for a dream job in the big city. Assuming that dream job exists.

But I think the Village Voice is asking the wrong question.  The answer to whether NYU is worth $350,000 of debt (that’s how much Lyndsey owes after interest) is obviously a resounding UH NOOOOOO girl don’t do it!

But where do we go from here? Lyndsey is already in an enormous amount of debt, and she’s not alone: I have, as I’m sure everyone does, at least one NYU friend who is over his/her head in student loans. Plus, NYU isn’t the only university with bad financial aid: Students go into enormous debts and have trouble paying them back at increasingly unaffordable public schools too. In fact, this year marks the highest overall rates of defaults on student loans in the past decade.

— Arielle

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