One of the big reasons why Bernie Sanders appeals to many younger Americans is because of his calls to make public colleges tuition free. Over the past period of years, tuition and college costs have spiraled out of control, increasing much faster than the rate of inflation. A 2014 report from the Institute For College Access and Success says that in 2012, 71 percent of students graduating from four year institutions had student loan debt. The average level of debt for those students was $29,400, up from $23,450 in 2008.
For many of these students, the American dream is no longer finding a good job and creating a decent life for yourself. The primary focus instead has become simply climbing out from under a mountain of student debt, all of it incurred before students can even begin the career they are planning to have after graduation.
Rapper Dee-1 graduated from Louisiana State University in 2009, and like so many other recent graduates he left college with a substantial amount of debt. The New Orleans native worked for a couple of years as a math teacher, then he set out to attempt to make a name for himself in the music business. In 2014 Dee-1 landed a record deal with RCA.
Dee-1’s song “Sallie Mae Back” is all about his experience in paying off his student loans with Sallie Mae Bank, which is one of the big student loan providers. But Dee-1’s song and video is about much more than celebrating his good fortune in being able to pay off his loans. The video starts with this message:
Student loan debt is out of control in the U.S. Over $1.2 trillion is owed in student loans.
The message goes on to say how Dee-1 spent months making just the minimum payment on his student loans, and some months not being able to afford to do that, before landing his deal with RCA. Then, thanks to the advance money he received, he was able to pay off his loans.
Dee-1’s song and video have apparently struck a chord with younger Americans, who no doubt see their own experiences in the things he describes, like phone calls from your loan servicer when you fall behind in your payments. Welcome to America 2.0.16, where creating a better life for yourself takes a back seat to paying for the education that is supposed to let you achieve that better life. Is paying off your college loans what now passes for the “American Dream?”
Here’s Dee-1’s video “Sallie Mae Back,” via YouTube:
Featured image via YouTube screen capture