Don’t Pay Your Student Loans

Jason Salmon / (
Jason Salmon / (

It’s late August, which means the fall semester is starting, which means student loans are getting disbursed. The average American college student owes $29,400 upon graduation, and percentages are increasing every year. People grasping at the chance of a future have accumulated over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt. A TRILLION. That’s more than America’s total credit-card debt. If that seems like an impossibly large number, that’s because it is. It’s not real. Student loan debt is pretend; it’s Monopoly money, it’s fairy dust. So let’s stop acting like it’s a problem, because it totally doesn’t have to be.

Just don’t pay your student loans. Let ‘em default. Fuck it! Not paying your student loans would be an act of civil disobedience if the money actually mattered, which it doesn’t.

If you’ve already graduated from college, you’ve already received the service for which you agreed to pay. If you have your degree, you have it. They can’t take it away from you. If the money actually mattered, you would have had to pay upfront. Colleges aren’t the Pied Piper; they won’t steal your children if you don’t pay them (not that you can afford to have children, anyway).

Think about bitcoins. When bitcoins were a thing, most people didn’t get it and thought it was a fad, but technocrats such as Marc Andreesen and the Winklevoss twins were like, “No, this is definitely real. Bitcoin is money, and y’all should definitely buy in.” And then Mt. Gox, the bitcoin bank, got robbed, and like a hundred million dollars worth of bitcoins got stolen, and the Winklevii and everyone were like, “Haha, just kidding! Bitcoin’s not really money! Just a fad!”

Student loans are bitcoins. If we don’t believe in them, they don’t exist.

You may be thinking, “but if I agree to borrow money knowing in advance that I will never pay it, isn’t that stealing?” Sure it is. But who are you stealing from? The bank? The federal government? Fuck the bank! Fuck the federal government! Lenders are criminals. They’re lending you money knowing full well that they’re going to own you forever. They’ll lend you money, sure, but at a loan-shark interest rate.

But there’s an important difference between institutional lenders and loan sharks: Institutional lenders won’t take your debt out of your flesh. What’s the bank gonna do if you don’t pay them? Break your kneecaps? No, they’ll make it impossible for you to get another loan.

People say this like it’s a bad thing. “Oh, I’ll never be able to buy a house.” Well, you were never gonna be able to buy a house anyway! The American Dream is dead, dude! Draw me up a financial plan that’ll show me how you’ll save up enough for a down payment. You’re a perpetual intern/dishwasher. You’ll be lucky if you can afford to rent a room at the Day’s Inn. You shouldn’t have a credit card. That’s just more debt. Your credit is bad? So what! If you don’t pay your loans, you’ll have street credit.

This will only work if everyone defaults together. If nobody pays, what are they gonna do? Make everybody pay? No, they’ll go after a few people to try and scare everyone else. Don’t let them scare you. It’s like downloading mp3s. A few people got sued, but everybody kept doing it, and eventually the music industry gave up and music is free now. We can force colleges to invent their own version of Spotify. If no one pays, the debt industry collapses.

So the next time you get a bill, throw it away. Take what they offer, but don’t buy in. Live your life without fear and subservience.

(All right, obviously, I don’t know what I’m talking about and you should try to pay off your loans. But seriously, fuck student loans.) Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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