"I have come to think of my debt as like an alcoholic relative from whom I am estranged, but who shows up to ruin happy occasions." MH Miller's description of his roughly decade-old student loan debt might not be extreme enough. In a lengthy piece for the Baffler that was picked up by the Guardian, Miller describes a life tainted by the burden of what he owes at every turn. "My debt was the result, in equal measure, of a chain of rotten luck and a system that is an abject failure by design," he writes, and provides the backstory: a non-extravagant middle-class childhood; the decision to get a BA and an MA in English literature from New York University; the more than $100,000 he borrowed to do so; his parents' job loss in late 2008; the subsequent loss of their Michigan home.
"Now 30, I have been incapacitated by debt for a decade." He writes of the futility of reaching out to Citibank over and over in an attempt to have the loan term extended in order to lower the monthly payments, of "the foundational myth of an entire generation of Americans was the false promise that education was priceless," of a conversation he had with his father about suicide, and of the $12,531.12 he and his family paid over three years on a $25,000 loan, whose interest rate left a balance due of $25,933.66 after all those payments. Miller, now an arts editor for the New York Times Style Magazine, refinanced with the Silicon Valley startup SoFi a year ago. He's due to have his total debt of about $182,000 paid off in 2032. Read the full piece, which includes his story of attending a SoFi community dinner, here. (Read more Longform stories.)