Painfully Indebted College Grad Seeks Donations

Déjà Vu ensues at Wes.

You might remember a Wesleying post over the summer regarding a Wes student ’12 whose family financial situation, coupled with his international status, rendered tuition for the coming semester all but completely unaffordable. Distraught but unbeaten, the student set up an extensive website and Facebook page soliciting donations and ideas for how to raise upwards of $60,000 in one summer. That student did not end up returning to Wesleyan this term. His website is no longer online. But the Wesleying comments section (archived here) unleashed some worthwhile (and unnecessarily ugly) debate, ranging from sincere outpourings of sympathy (“even if you don’t want to donate, show him some support!”) to terse dismissal (“Get a fucking job”) and much in between.

A recent Gawker story, regarding a 2009 graduate of Northeastern University who is now soliciting donations to help her cover over $200,000(!!)  in student loans, offers startling parallels. Kelli Space, 23, has also set up a website to plead her case and seek generous contributions: She even provides the horrifying repayment schedule itself. For a 23-year-old, this is pretty goddamn bleak. She writes to Gawker:

The severity of my situation goes a bit deeper than “I owe this money, help me” – I am actually forced to live with my parents (forced = I am lucky! But…) as the monthly payments for just my private loans are currently $891 until Nov 2011 when they increase to $1600 per month for the following 20 years… attached is my payment plan. I also mentioned I have a job – which is great! And I probably have my college education to thank for that! Except there is still no way to make these monthly payments, and live on my own as a contributing member of society. Neither of my parents, nor I, really knew how this would pan out — unfortunately — and now that I’m here, I see no real light at the end of the tunnel.

As of this posting, she’s raised $2,413.59. The most glaring difference between Space’s case and the aforementioned  (ex?-)Wes student? Space has finished her education—she’s already in debt, and there’s no opting out. And she humbly acknowledges her fault and irresponsibility on the site:

It is MY fault, and mine alone, then, that I am in this debt due to “needing” to attend Northeastern 5 years ago. My gross abuse of finances to pay for my education should not be passed along to anyone else. . . . By all means, please donate to any of the many causes out there over me. I’m aware that my issue will remain an issue for some 20 years due to my own poor decision-making, and other immediate causes deserve any amount you can give. Please, do not think I expect anyone’s money, particularly over any other cause.

This tip was submitted to us by a recent Wesleyan grad who wishes to remain anonymous but points out that the comment responses to Ms. $200,000 “mirror the spectrum of extreme criticism/sympathy that appeared on Wesleying” back in June. It’s absolutely true, and it’s fascinating to see—again—the polarizing reactions that publicizing one’s private college-related financial woes seems to bring out. Honestly, I can’t beat the one bitingly snarky commenter, who succinctly points out:

I hate when I order the beluga with shaved truffles which the menu says is $640 and then get a bill at the end of the meal for $640. I’m like, WTF? How’d that happen?

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