How and why not to get private student loans

Here is why you should not get a private student loan:

Here is how you can avoid private loans, even if you were not wise enough in the beginning to choose parents who could pay for college:

  • Do not go for one of the do it at your own pace, study at home, we will lend you the money if your Pell Grant doesn’t cover the cost on-line universities. These are money mills for their operators and money pits for students.
  • Go to your local community college and tell them you want a 4-year degree from the state university, and you want to do your first two years at the community college (CC).
  • If you know what major you want at the university, call the university and talk to a counselor who will tell you what course of study to take at the CC. Get something in writing, even if it is only an e-mail, and follow the advice of the counselor.
  • If you don’t know what you want to study, get a job stocking shelves, bagging groceries, making hamburgers and fries, typing, answering the phone, plumber’s helper, running a cash register, waiting tables, or something that earns you a little bit of money while you make up your mind. This work experience will be valuable to you if you want to work part-time or do student work-study while attending college.
  • If you don’t know what you want to study but you just HAVE TO GO direct to college, go to the CC and major in English, History, or Math. The one of these three that appeals most to you will probably be a strong foundation for your later choice of majors. This is true because they are foundational subjects in the three major divisions of the curriculum, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences.
  • Get the 2-year AA or AS (Associates) degree. Work hard and make “A’s.” If you aren’t making good grades, ask for help. Community Colleges can assess weak points and help you meet your goals.
  • Check with your CC counselor to be sure you apply to your state university at the right point in your AA/AS program.

Private schools are not universally bad, but they cost more than the university. To justify the higher cost, they say that at the university you will be a number. Actually, although the university is large, your classes and your major become your community within the university. Your professors will care about you with about the same frequency that students experience at a private college. Your resources will be greater, as labs and libraries will be better equipped. There will be more plays, concerts, lectures, and gatherings. And your alumni network will be larger when you are looking for a job.

Oh — and don’t forget to vote for Democrats. People who believe in education invest in it. If you can’t find the data on who believes in education, just take my word for it. Democrats. Vote for one every time you get a chance.

Origins and consequences

Virginia’s Delegate Israel O’Quinn responded to my letter:

Thanks for your message. I can tell you for certain that not a single piece of legislation I filed was influenced by ALEC or any other national legislative organization. The bills I filed, and will continue to file, come directly from constituents or are items of interest for our region and/or Commonwealth.

He responded also on the matter of the economic impact of abortion-related bills, stating that “normal operating practice” is that every bill receives an economic impact statement. He said, “I’m not sure how your suggestion would expand that particular practice, but it is certainly a question for Legislative Services as I am not quite sure of the answer.”

I appreciate Delegate O’Quinn’s thoughtful response, which demonstrates that he is listening to voters. I am seeking the economic impact statements for the abortion-related bills in the Virginia legislature, and will post a link when I have that information. Updated Wednesday, April 4, 2012.
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Open and responsive government that takes care of business efficiently is what we need, and a citizen’s understanding of origins and consequences of bills before they become law is critical to this goal. Legislators also need to know where ideas come from and what their predictable consequences might be.

I recently sent a few comments to Delegate O’Quinn regarding the State Corruption Risk Report Card for Virginia. He responded that he too was disappointed, pointed out the problems of perspective in the report, and stated that he was committed to more open and accessible government in Virginia. I have no reason to doubt his commitment, and I hope that he will honor that as this legislature goes forward. I offered two suggestions for improving openness and accessibility in my letter back to him, reproduced below:

Dear Delegate O’Quinn:

Thank you for your response. I too was disappointed with this report card in Virginia, and while I agree that electing judges is not good, I believe we should have non-partisan judges. Judges should be committed to the equal and non-partisan administration of the law.

In the past — I am 67, so I have a lot of past — elections were partisan, and after the election legislators worked on substantive questions of the Commonwealth like infrastructure and improving the lives of citizens. I have recently been disappointed to learn that over 50 of the bills introduced in Virginia — including virtually all of the pro-gun, anti-woman, and public education assault legislation — were written by ALEC, and not by any Virginian at all. What does this say about us, about the neglect of the responsibility to govern among our elected representatives? Can we no longer govern ourselves? Are we enslaved to people we do not even know are controlling us?

As to suggestions for how to make government more open and accessible, I would appreciate the tagging of each piece of legislation that has been influenced by ALEC and an attached description of the ALEC recommendation that influenced the law on your website.

In an associated matter, I cannot tell you how disappointed I am with the frivolous agenda of the Virginia legislature in the current session, so demeaning to women. In the light of modern science and medicine, our legislators brought the debates of the 1500’s to 1700’s back to the floor. These debates are based on religion and on a pre-scientific understanding that men constitute humanity and are the generative force in procreation while women are “instrumental,” contributing nothing. Surely we are not going to be asked to accept that we are men’s tools for reproducing themselves, and that we have no rights to our own bodies.

The ancient nation of Israel in the Old Testament had birth control, but they had a need to increase population. Maximizing procreation was a practical matter for them, and their rules for sexual behavior did exactly that. The rules that were practical in their time are contrary to good sense for us. Neither the economy or the biosphere can sustain maximum procreation here and now. And making women primarily a means of reproduction by shaming, by limiting choices, or by limiting access to birth control is reprehensible.

It is even more onerous to understand women’s lives in this way when the rules you have made will affect only low-income to moderate-income women — wealthy women have always had access to safe abortions, and they always will have, law notwithstanding. If your daughter can afford two weeks abroad, she can go where the law is more sane and more humane, and return without the problem and without any record of ever having had the problem. Only poor and middle-income women are affected, and none of our families can afford to rear and educate 15 children.

As to suggestions for how to make legislation about reproduction more open and accessible, I would appreciate each piece of legislation regarding women’s reproductive rights to be accompanied by a published economic and environmental impact statement, showing 1) how it will impact the ability of young women to become self-sufficient and on their own economically, and 2) how it will impact the ability of parents to provide adequate medical care, living space, education, and recreation for their children, and eventually how the Commonwealth will generate jobs for a constantly booming population, maintain a safety net for those who are disabled or who become disabled, and care for them as they reach retirement age.

Thank you again for your response, and for the opportunity to share my concerns and suggestions.

Sincerely,

– Sarah

Virginia tax credits for private K-12 should not pass

Tax credits for K-12 private school attendance is a bad idea. Remember that a tax credit is actually a payment of money from the public purse. Taxes are collected across the income strata, and public schools are funded from taxes. This legislation shuttles public money to private purses, essentially giving another tax break to people who do not need it. I am opposed to it for two reasons:

  • While it is true that getting a good education should not depend on your zip code,this legislation will do just that. It will establish a two-tiered quasi-public school system in which the state, using tax money from everyone, will support private schools for some children and a lower tier of public schools for others. This is contrary to any sense of equal opportunity.
  • This legislation purports to give poor children entry into private schools. If it is passed, I do not believe that the school populations will change. The private schools need only raise their tuition to absorb the public money that will flow into them, and poor and middle-class children will still attend public schools.
  • We cannot afford to abandon Virginia’s duty to all of our children, to educate them all — this is a foundation stone of democracy, and an absolute necessity for the 21st century. We need to educate all of Virginia’s children, not just those in certain zip codes or certain economic levels. Fix the public schools, don’t make them a ghetto.

    Some ideas are just bad

    Tonight a small group of mostly Democrats gathered in a room at the local community college to watch President Obama give the State of the Union Address. The event was sponsored by both Democrat and Republican student organizations. We gathered about half an hour early and talked about what we wanted to hear him say, and we were happy afterward that he covered our concerns. I was particularly pleased, since his speech proved that he has been reading my e-mails.

    During the discussion before the speech, one member stood and declared himself to be a Republican. We see a lot of these in southwest Virginia, so we were not frightened. He did not have an issue that he wanted to see President Obama address in the speech, but he did have an idea to present. He pointed out that we were all Democrats except himself, and he asked us to crash the Republican primary and vote for Ron Paul so that the Republicans would go to the convention with a split vote. He had some rationale for this being a good thing, based on his assertion that he would never vote for Romney or Gingrich, and somehow a split ticket would make the Republicans give him a better option — presumably Ron Paul.

    Virginia has an open primary, and on March 6 Republicans here will choose between two candidates, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Perry, Santorum, Gingrich, and Huntsman failed to qualify for the ballot, sued the Virginia State Board of Elections and the Virginia GOP for an exception to the rules, and lost.

    I am a Virginia Democrat who knows from working at the polls that when we have a primary it is standard practice for Republicans to cast spoiler votes in our primary, I know it is possible for us to do this dastardly deed as much as it is for Republicans to do it to us. That is, it would be possible for us if:

    • we thought governing was a game that you should game
    • we had no ethics, and
    • we didn’t mind being on the phonebanking lists for the next 10 years as Republicans.

    I’m not saying that no Democrat ever voted in a Republican primary, but I am not aware of any Democrat ever doing that. Certainly we do not do organized get-out-the-vote party crashing. We could not, because we are, well, Democrats.

    Most particularly we should not even consider voting in this Republican primary to advantage Ron Paul, a racist sexist isolationist snapping turtle who throughout his career has bitten the hand — that would be the government hand — that feeds him. And if a Republican wants Ron Paul to win, he should be out campaigning for Ron Paul, not trying to finesse an unethical spoiler vote in the primary from outside his own party.

    If you want to know where I am coming from

    I suppose it is not fair to talk about religion without letting people know where you are coming from in the religious context. So before I take on the dominionists for not being on the right path, I will give you some background on my perspective.

    I was born into Christianity, but as the dominionists moved in — at first they called themselves the Moral Majority, and then the Promise Keepers — I found myself moving out. When the church quit supporting labor unions and civil rights and public education, i moved out further. To be quite frank, they never supported women, but for a while I thought they were coming along on this matter. But maybe they never did.

    I was familiar with Christian scripture, belief, story, and practice before I entered high school. I taught a Sunday School class, taught Vacation Bible School, and was the president of the youth organization Christ’s Ambassadors in the Assembly of God church. Yes. I know. Sarah Palin. In college I earned around 20 credit hours of courses in religion, all of it in the Christian perspective, and all on Christian topics with the exception of one course in comparative religions taught by a Christian professor. I still recognize myself as a Christian, but to my Christian birth family I am an apostate heathen heretic.

    I can insult many members of my Christian family by quoting the Sermon on the Mount, telling the story of the Good Samaritan, or pointing out that Jesus told the Woman at the Well that the true worship of God was not tied to race, creed, or geography, and that his message was addressed to individual people, not nations. They feel abused also when I point out that Jesus refused the opportunity to have dominion over the earth, and a dominionist can’t possibly be following in Jesus’s footsteps. But they can in retaliation observe that the Devil can quote scripture. So knowing, using, and citing scripture doesn’t keep me from being an apostate heathen heretic. And then I can remind them that if the Devil quotes scripture, it is still scripture.

    So there you have it. I am an apostate heathen heretic, perhaps otherwise known to a few souls of the scattered remnant as a Christian who is not a fundamentalist and not a dominionist. I believe in evolution, in spite of the current round of GOP debates. I am pro-choice.

    Some people think I am a Buddhist, and maybe I am because I finally learned to spell it last year. And in my heretical manner of pointing out, I will point out that some people think Jesus was a Buddhist. On that subject, I can see how Buddhist ideas translated through the Hellenistic lens could have produced the early Christian movement. Somebody needs to write a book about that. If you have, send me the ISBN so I can find it and read it. I am sure it is obscure.

    I read obscure books.

    Happy Birthday!

    http://embed.crooksandliars.com/v/MjMwODQtNTM2Nzc?color=C93033

    A world of difference?

    This raises a question about whether or not we all actually live in the same world: