Her name is Kelli Space and she started a website called “Two Hundred Thou” where strangers send her cash to help pay off her $200,000 in student loans for her undergraduate sociology degree from Northeastern University in Boston.
Really? This whole situation makes me queasy—who goes that far into debt for a sociology degree and then decides to panhandle on the Internet because they made a poor life choice?
Kelli Space made a very dumb decision: to go to Northeastern without scholarships or financial aid. Presumably she graduated from high school with basic math skills and could have fathomed how huge and scary $200,000 of debt is. She also should have read up on her lender. If she did, she would have learned that her chosen loan provider, Sallie Mae, is known for keeping college kids in debt longer.
I am empathetic to Space’s situation. I, too, am in college loan debt—when I’m done with my Master’s it’ll be some $50,000. But I’m not at all sympathetic. Because instead of going to an expensive, elite, undergrad school, I chose to save money and go to a state school—something Space should have looked into.
Space said on her website that she “had” to go to Northeastern because she was the first person in her family and extended family to go to college. Yes, well I was the first person in my family and extended family to graduate from high school, Kelli, and I didn’t “have” to go to my first choice, Boston University.
Like Space I was smart (good GPA), but not smart enough (my SAT scores were average at best). And I was poor, but not poor enough (because my Dad worked lots of overtime so we could afford car and mortgage payments). Like Space, BU didn’t offer me any scholarship money and only minimal financial aid. But I made a smart choice: to go to a cheaper, yet just as reputable, school for my major — English.
Space should have known that a sociology degree at Northeastern is basically the same as a sociology degree at UMass. It’s called reading up on a situation before you sign your life away to Sallie Mae.
I know the allure of paying for a name. I understand the rush of excitement when you’re in a school’s Facebook network and everyone can see how “smart” you are, especially when you come from a working class family. But when you come from a working class family, you can’t always afford that name.
I’m at Columbia now because I worked hard. While double-majoring in English and history at the University at Buffalo (a state school), I worked a part-time job at Borders. I spent every summer working over 40 hours a week to save money and this past summer, before I moved to New York City, I worked three jobs for 80 hours a week, because I knew affording this next year was entirely on me.
Space also said she’s in debt because she studied abroad. I wanted to study abroad but I couldn’t afford it, so I didn’t go. Sometimes life calls for sacrifices, Miss Space, and you have to deny yourself. You can’t always get what you want.
What annoys me the most about Space’s website, though, is that she said she has a full-time job, works 40 hours a week and still can’t afford loan payments. Well, Kelli, how about getting another job? Millions of Americans have multiple jobs just so they can get by—you should get one, too. I am fully expecting to go back to Borders after I get my Master’s in order to fund student-loan payments. A degree from a “fancy” school does not make you immune to working at a bookstore or even a fast food chain. You do what you have to do to get by, especially in this economy.
So far, people all over the Internet have donated over $7,000 to Space. Why? Why are you wasting money on a girl who made a poor life choice when there are starving people without homes that your money could better serve? Space has a job. Space has the skills to get another job. Space lives with her parents. Give your money to someone who lost their job because of the recession. Give your money to someone who lost their home in the foreclosure crisis. Give your money to someone who truly needs it because they fell, unexpectedly, on hard times.
Don’t give your money to Kelli Space. She doesn’t need it.
What she needs is a reality check, more work ethic, and less whining.