Borrowed Future (2021) Movie Script

[Ramsey jingle]
BILL GATES: You graduates are
coming of ageat an amazing time.
BARACK OBAMA: As Americans,
we enjoy more freedoms
and opportunities and citizens
than any other nation on earth.
AMARI SIMMONS: So my American
dream is pretty simple.
My American dream is not
living paycheck to paycheck.
BARACK: We have the chance to
get an education and work hard,
and give our children
a better life.
to college, you don't get a job.
That's the only way you could
make a living for yourself.
MARK ZUCKERBERG: The challenge
for our generation
is to create a world
where has a sense of purpose.
JUSTIN MCDANIEL: From a pretty
early age I knew I wanted
to be an Orthodontist.
BARACK: What has always
been certain is the ability
to shape that destiny.
was a teacher, I just
ended up falling in love
with history
and went down that trek.
You will be happy.
You will be successful
and you will make a
difference in the world.
BARACK: Congratulations
on your graduation!
[dramatic music]
SETH GODIN: A college
degree is a signal.
MALE 1: Attend the best possible
university you can get into.
MALE 2: You'd be wrong
to forgo a college education.
FEMALE 1: The return
on a college education
had never been greater.
SETH G: What it is a
signal of, is: I'm able
to speak a certain way,
and understand a certain
set of cultural tropes and,
this group of people,
maybe not so much.
very tough for many Americans.
FEMALE 2: Tuition has
gone through the roof.
Post-secondary education
is now the largest source
of consumer borrowing
behinds mortgage loans.
MALE 4: So many families
are borrowing to the teeth.
SETH G: And the thing that
we say to these kids is:
Do this schtick in high
school, and it will
get you into college.
And then we say, now
do it again, and it
will get you a job.
MALE 5: They fall into
a trap our society
has created for them.
ALI VELSHI: Student loan debt
has been steadily increasing,
affecting approximately
44 million Americans.
MARIA: The cost of getting
a college education
is having a lasting
effect on graduates.
COURTNEY: It's just so natural,
like everyone knows it.
SETH FROTMAN: This is good debt.
AMARI: $13,000 can turn
into $25,000 easily.
SETH F: There's a good
return on investment.
JOSIAH: I'm paying all these
bills and I have nothing.
SETH F: You did this to
chase the American dream
that we all cherish.
FEMALE 4: People
are alive but not living.
MALE 6: This is not the way
the American dream was set up.
JUSTIN: You know,
I'm 36, I have a million
dollars in student loans.
SETH G: Every piece
in the system did what
it was supposed to do.
And the victims
are 17 years old.
SETH F: The story has all come
down to one thing.
"How has this happen to me
when I did everything correct?"
[ominous music]
ANTHONY ONEAL: I remember man,
when I was, you know 17.
Guy walked in from
a local college there in
the city of Fayetteville
and said, "Hey,
if you haven't started
thinking about college
education, you are late...
and if you really
want to be successful,
you have to go to college.
Because if you do not
go to college, you will
not be successful."
I didn't know how to process it.
My entire young life,
I was never taught
the proper education
of what I needed to be
successful. I was just
told "Go to college.
You will be successful,
and if you have to take out
student loans, that's okay.
Everyone is doing it."
And I became,
like everyone.
DAVE RAMSEY: The culture
in the last three
or four decades
has dramatically shifted.
It used to be that we said
education is important.
Study something, so that
you can further your career.
It moved from that to
where education was
permission to play.
You weren't gonna be valid
in the economy
unless you had a four year,
or more, degree.
Not only is it necessary,
but it's like a guarantee --
That you're guaranteed
to be more successful.
And so, you have to have this,
cause a degree is the answer.
MAN: Society has rules.
And the first rule is,
you gotta go to college.
You want to have a happy
and successful life?
You go to college.
If you want to be somebody,
you go to college.
If you want to fit in,
you go to college!
a four year college degree
still a good investment.
not surprisingly,
we at the Princeton Review
think it's a good investment
for a couple of reasons.
One, a student is gonna earn
a million dollars more
over their lifetime career
opposed if they didn't have
a college degree.
They're more nimble.
They have lower rates
of unemployment.
Even Robert Wood Johnson says,
they're going to live longer
because they're likely gonna
better insurance.
MIKE ROWE: We set the table
in such a way that we doomed
millions of parents
and kids to take the bait.
When we elevated the pursuit
of a four year degree to here,
we inversely relegated
a two year degree,
or a community college,
or an apprenticeship
program, or all those
other things down here.
Higher education became a thing.
Everything else
became an alternative.
DR. JOHN DELONY: There was some
studies that came out and said,
if you have a college degree,
you will make this much more
in your lifetime.
That became the marketing
slogan for higher ed.
Which is if you come do this,
you make more money.
The shift of a public good,
turned into a private good.
I'm getting my degree
so I can make more money for me.
Then the markets got involved.
And this thing was not something
all invested in, like roads,
or police or fire departments.
It became a way
for me to get rich.
MIKE: The cost of college
had grown faster
than the cost of energy
and the cost of real estate,
the cost of healthcare.
All of it.
Some how we got in our heads
that it's priceless.
And we've told an entire
generation of kids,
if they don't borrow
whatever it takes,
then they're going to enter
into this crazy rat race
hopelessly disadvantaged.
So you got a 17
or 18 year old kid,
being told to sign
on the dotted line, or else.
His parents aren't
cautioning him not to do that.
Guidance councilors aren't
saying "Hey, take a breath,
be careful."
Nobody is.
SETH: I think where
this really becomes a crisis
is millions of people
who faithfully
pay their student loan
bill every month,
where that debt
is having an enormous
implication on their lives,
and their communities.
Things like the ability to buy
a house, save for retirement,
what career you choose, even if
you're gonna start a family.
unintentional consequence
of just living in society and
being surrounded by everything
that says spend
and have a certain lifestyle,
and it's okay to borrow
and to go into debt.
And just make sure you
can afford the payments.
They're just
following on a path.
ANTHONY: Normal ended me
in the back of my car.
Because I didn't have
no where to sleep.
Normal ended me
in the YMCA washing myself,
because I didn't have a home
to go to and take a shower.
Before I even turned 19,
I'm $35,000 in debt.
I was that young kid thinking
about committing suicide.
I was that young kid
wondering how I'm gonna eat.
And it was during
that season of my life,
that I just decided I'm sick and
tired of being sick and tired.
I'm tired of not being
able to have the options.
What can I eat,
what can I do, where can I go?
And so, I got
myself out of debt.
Learned a lot about money.
Learned a lot about life.
CREW LADY: Alright, Anthony,
we're ready for ya.
ANTHONY: Had to lose some
friends. Had to better myself.
And I said,
when I get out of this,
I want to be in front
of young people
and help them go after
their dreams but make sure
that their dreams
do not become nightmares.
And when I look at this table,
I see dreams,
but if it's going down
the wrong path,
I also see future nightmares.
And so, I'm excited to be here
with you all tonight.
It's to have a conversation
about your life,
and what you are experiencing.
You all are about
to step into the real world.
What is one thing that
you're feeling about graduation?
I get outta high school,
I gotta make sure I get
the right steps to make sure
that whatever I do going forward
can put my kids
in a better situation than I am.
ANTHONY: Does that make
you fearful though?
Are you nervous
about that? Why?
cause I'm a teenager!
So, you know, I make
bone-head decisions.
CAMRYNN: So like, my
small decision can play
a big role in my future.
ANTHONY: Aye, but you know what?
At least you admit that, bruh!
My man said, "I'ma teenager.
I'mma make some dumb decisions."
What is one decision
you're scared of making?
CAMRYNN: I wanna enjoy
my life to the fullest,
cause I live for now.
And then, I also gotta
live for the future.
So you don't know
which one you wanna choose.
tells me all the time to
do what makes me happy.
She'd support me 100%!
But then, I also have my dad,
he tells me,
"Look, you have
to pick something.
It has to be something
that's high paying
because you have
to feed yourself." You know?
And when in old
society, today you can't
just not go to college.
Well, you can but,
it can be a little rough.
CLAYTON: Of course
you're growing up, your
parents always tell you,
"You can do anything want to do.
You can do anything you put
your mind to," yada-yada-ya,
"If you work hard in high school
and you keep these good grades
and you take these classes.
You'll go anywhere
you wanna go."
Well, they don't
tell ya that there's
a $180,000 price tag
attached to it.
ANTHONY: So do you think college
is the only way
you can be successful in life.
ALL: Yes.
CLAYTON: Going to college
is like a safety net.
No matter what you do in life,
no matter what dreams you chase.
If you have a degree to fall
back on, you're always safe.
[soft dramatic music]
JOSIAH: My game plan
was the game plan that
everyone else had.
I'm going to apply
to get student loans.
I always thought everything
was just gonna be fine.
Every thing will
sort itself out.
[engine starting]
[soft piano music]
JOSIAH: College was
always in the picture.
Older brother went to college.
Older sister went to college so,
me being the youngest,
also go to college.
And, get the best
I can for myself.
[soft piano music]
For that first year,
was $24,000.
I didn't work.
I played through three sports,
so to me, it was real easy
to just say, "This money
will just take care of itself.
I'll make enough money."
Went off to school
and didn't really worry about it
for a year until we had to do it
all over again.
INTERVIEWER: Free money?
JOSIAH: Free money!
[bell ringing]
JOSIAH: Get out the notes
that we started on before,
we're gonna keep going
over values and beliefs
and things that we have
in our society
that tells us what we can and
cannot do and so on from there.
COURTNEY: I met Josiah
through mutual friends.
We were only dating
for a couple of months,
and he just brought it up,
and I didn't even think
twice about it.
Like, everyone had it like that.
It's fine. Whatever.
And I don't think
it really hit me until, like,
the week after we got married.
We got a decent amount of money
from our wedding
and that instantly went straight
to like, all of our bills.
And then, like, it was gone.
[soft piano music]
JOSIAH: Everyone in the
pictures, they're so happy,
holding their diploma,
walking across the stage.
By the time the graduation
ceremony was,
I had realized it's not
this happy-go-lucky time.
I had taken out about
$110,000 in student loans.
Interest had been gathering the
entire time that had to balloon
to $125,000 after four
and a half years of college.
It was something
that I was not prepared for.
It was an avalanche
coming down on me.
I had a total of 11 separate
bills coming in the mail
for eight hundred
and seventy some dollars
that I was gonna have
to pay per month.
[soft piano music]
ANTHONY: Student loan's
on the table for you?
ANTHONY: Man, you jumped
straight to yes, bruh!
CLAYTON: I mean, I'm not
the first, I won't be the last,
like -- 'Cause --
ANTHONY: Is that
the only option?
CLAYTON: I mean, technically no.
CAMRYNN: My thing is,
whenever you gotta do something,
you gotta take the good
and the bad with it.
CAMRYNN: So like, my
thing is, if you want
to be real successful,
you might have
to take on the debt,
but is you gon' work hard
to get out of the debt?
KAMERON: But how much
debt is too much debt?
CAMRYNN: Well, really,
you know like --
That's the whole thing when
it comes to the student loans.
Like, what is you feel like
is enough risk for you?
CECI: Yeah!
And in life,
like everything sucks.
Everything has,
like, a backdrop.
Everything has a trade-off.
You're never gonna
get the good only.
You're just choosing
what sucks less.
CLAYTON: Well, yeah.
That's true.
KAMERON: I know people that are
planning to die with that debt.
Like, they're only
paying interest.
CECI: I'll take the blow.
Like give it to me.
You know?
MARIO MIKHAEIL: So you'd like,
hold that burden
for the rest of your life,
paying off student
loans, hundreds and
hundreds of thousands --
CECI: Yeah, when you want
something really bad,
you gotta take all of it.
SETH F: This is probably one of,
if not the most important
financial decisions
in your life.
And I think a lot of this stems
from this unfortunate thought
that we don't need
to worry about student debt
because it's "Good Debt".
There's something
about the word "student"
being before the word loan,
that just makes us think
about this differently, and like
differently in a very bad way.
[soft music]
DAVE: The student loan
problem has reached
epidemic proportions.
The curve on the growth
of credit card debt,
even though it's
been ridiculous, has
been much more gentle
than the curve on
student loan debt.
It's gone to a mushroom cloud in
terms of the Mathematics of it.
The problem is that you don't
register emotionally
that it's money.
I mean, when you borrow money,
to buy a $20,000 car,
you have a completely different
emotional experience
than if you write a check
or put down $20,000
worth of Benjamins right there.
You have an --
You have an emotional experience
that you do not have
when you just sign
and go, "I think I can
make those payments."
It's the same thing that
happens with student loans.
SETH F: There's a whole lot
of people who have a big target
on your back who view you
and your ability to take
on a ton of debt
as their chance to get rich.
- College tuition
has risen enormously
over the past five decades.
Why would someone
pay for this?
Well, everyone seems to agree
that graduating from college
if a guarantee to a better life.
So, it's no surprise
that the student debt level
has risen exponentially
as people
pursue their shot
at the American dream.
But is the pay-off really there?
When the student loan
program was first started
by the government,
it had really good intentions.
Students can only borrow up
to $1,000 a year for school.
The expectation was,
as students completed
their higher education,
they would in, in turn,
contribute their knowledge
and skills back into society.
And the money for all
of this came directly
from the U.S. Treasury.
But as the demand for higher
education grew, so did tuition.
Now, the government had
to open up the student
loan program even more.
So, they brought in the banks.
That meant the government
didn't have to foot
the initial bill anymore.
But, they still guaranteed
the loans if the borrower
couldn't pay it back.
So the banks, they were getting
paid one way or the other.
And on top of that
they got to collect
any and all interest
from the loans.
In business,
this is called making a profit.
So, fast forward.
Tuition is still rising
because the demand for college
wasn't slowing down, and the
banks, they couldn't keep up.
This is where the government
stepped in and created
the Student Loan
Marketing Association.
More conveniently
known as "SallieMae."
As a government
sponsored enterprise,
they were designed to
fund the money into the
student loan program.
They would buy the loans
from the banks which allowed
the banks the cash flow
to issue more loans.
And over the next two decades,
SallieMae became a major player
in the student loan market.
But in 2004, SallieMae cut their
strings from the government
and became
a fully private company,
and this meant
they were a real business.
A business that exists
for one thing.
To make a profit.
This is where
the student loan program
went from being
a public good to big money.
Actually, this isn't
even a program anymore.
It's an industry.
The real nail in the coffin
though came a year later
when SallieMae convinced
congress to make
private student loans
nearly impossible
to discharge through bankruptcy.
This has resulted
in growing default rates,
record amounts
of interest accumulated
and dragged out repayment plans
that never go away.
Now, we're left with entire
generations of people trapped
in student loan debt, who
took it on in hopes of making
a better life for themselves.
Because that was the original
goal for all of this.
But it's companies like
SallieMae, Navient, Great Lakes,
Pheaa, Osla, Nelnet,
and countless others
who's pockets are overflowing
with the money your future
was supposed to be built on.
So, with over 45 million
Americans sharing
this 1.6 trillion dollars
of student loan debt,
the question still remains.
LACY YOUNG: Hey guys!
It's Lacy!
And, I am broke as [bleep].
GUY: $200,000 --
LADY: $172,000 in debt.
GUY: I went to
a regular-ass state school.
LADY 2: I have only
paid off $7,231.11.
How much interest have
I paid in 13 years.
Holy [bleep].
LADY 3: I got in there
one day, and they said,
"Your loans would be
forgiven if you die."
Oh. That's nice.
AMARI: So, I feel like
my time in college
wasn't really the ideal picture
that I had of college.
I felt like college
was supposed to be fun,
and the time
that you're away from parents
and rules and can make
your own decisions.
But, my college
was pretty much filled with
how am I gonna make sure
I'm stable?
[soft dramatic strings]
AMARI: My view was like
"It's not the end of the world.
It's normal.
It's life to have debt.
Everyone has debt.
Everyone has it!
So, it was fine.
Brush it off.
Don't worry about it."
[soft dramatic strings]
When, I got my final
finished-aid report,
and I seen how much
more money I needed,
you can't start class if you
don't have a zero-balance.
I had to do something.
I couldn't get that amount
of money from home.
I talked to
the financial aid advisors
that we have at our school
and they introduced me to loans.
I did look at it as an
investment for myself,
like it's okay.
But then, once I realize I had
to continue to take things out,
it was like, "Okay,
wow, this is, like,
adding up very quickly."
It became a thing of like,
dreading the fact
that I'm gonna owe so much money
when I get outta school!
[dramatic piano music]
That is when it like,
hit me the hardest.
It's like you don't
wanna have to be in debt.
So it's like you gotta
comfort yourself
with the notion that it's
normal. But you don't want it.
So, it's like a constant, like,
dissonance and conflict
going on through your whole
collegiate career,
because it's like
"Yeah, I'm excelling
as far as I'm getting
a high education,
but at the same time, I'm gonna
be just like everyone else,
working to pay off debt."
[soft dramatic music]
KRISTINA ELLIS: The weight that
people feel from this decision,
they haven't even
made their first rent
payment on an apartment.
They haven't had to own bank
account, for a lot of students.
Like the pre-frontal cortex
isn't even fully developed yet.
And yet we're saying, "Do you
want $50,000 in student loans?"
That's a lot to put on
an 18-year-old,
especially when
you have well- respected
adults working at banks,
or admissions offices
sayings, "You know, hey!
This is a great thing.
Just take out this loan.
It's no big deal!"
People shouldn't leave college
in chains from the decision
to get an education that helps
them contribute to society.
That is a good thing.
It's really sad to see people
struggle as a result
of this great decision
to get an education.
JOSIAH: And add another
one to the list.
They said some of these other
bills were going to be
a little bit lower,
but, you never know.
So, we might even have
additional stuff too, so,
cut back on groceries.
So, if we could change --
What do we need --
We need about $60, $80...
If we could change this --
COURTNEY: You would think, "Oh,
I have a house, we have a car,
we have jobs --
Like, we're fine.
We're the average
American." But, we
weren't making ends meet.
JOSIAH: We were living
paycheck to paycheck,
and I thought
I made a decent salary.
Well we could get
the taxes this month,
that puts us at about $20 short.
So, if I donate plasma
like another time,
that's another $20
or $60 or so.
Depending on which on it is --
JOSIAH: We are on our way
to Lima to donate plasma.
It's something that I do usually
every Tuesday and Thursday,
after football practice.
[whistle blowing]
JOSIAH: White!
Drive it, man!
Drive it!
Outside, linebackers,
widen out.
-- have to stay in still.
Quarterback is still your guy,
cause if they do a cross --
I don't get home till
about eight or so, but,
gotta make us
a little extra money somehow.
And that money I make during
the month, our donating
is a big difference in my life.
People say, like I go through
a crazy schedule, but you know.
I've left Courtney at home
for the last 12+ hours.
I've worked and worked and
worked at a job I didn't like.
But, I had no choice.
I had student loan
payments to make.
I didn't make enough money
to pay it off in 15 years
like the plan they wanted me to.
It's gonna take me
30 years to pay off.
I took up credit cards when I
was out of college because,
that's what you do.
I still had a car
payment that time too.
I was broken.
I'm paying all these bills
and I have nothing.
ANTHONY: I want you
to be successful.
I want each and every
one of you all to go
after the American dream.
But I gotta ask you this
question, what is one thing
that could stop your dreams?
ANTHONY: Say that again?
ANTHONY: One more time?
ANTHONY: My man!
You gotta take debt
off of the table.
I'd rather take six years
to graduate debt free
than to graduate in four
and spend the next 30 years
paying back my student loans.
Let's be real!
If all of you all went
to college, didn't listen
to my advice today,
two of you all will
graduate from this table
with $100,000 or more in debt.
Studies are showing
that the average person
takes some 20 years
to pay back their student
loan debt. Lemme go deeper.
Studies are showing that y'all
right here, young people,
when you graduate college,
the number one goal in life
is not to get your dream job.
The number one goal in life is,
when you graduate college,
is not to go out there
and buy you a nice car.
It's not to go out there to buy
a house and start a family.
You know what the number one
goal is for college people
who are just now graduating?
ALL: Pay off student loans.
ANTHONY: Is that
the American dream? No!
The number one mistake I see
with your generation is,
you take a kid's approach
to an adult decision.
DAVID WILSON: It's funny,
talking with my mom
and getting her story of,
"You know, I went to
college for $4,000!"
And thinking to myself,
that's cool,
it's not that cheap now!
[soft music]
Growing up, we were more
in the lower middle class.
Single mom who has two boys.
You could tell that we didn't
have an endless supply of money.
[soft music]
For college, I ended up opting
to go the business route,
I saw what the financial
situation was like,
and realized if I could
create a business and grow that
and be able to give back,
how much more of a difference
would that make if I could
fund 20 of me to go to college.
U of M, in Minnesota
was my big choice.
It's a very large,
substantial campus.
And you get this
sense of pride, you know,
walking in that situation
knowing that this is where
I could be cutting my teeth
for going out
in the real world.
So, one day, go to
the mailbox, I got in!
It's what I wanted, I was
totally set on going there,
I done everything I needed
to up until that point.
Basically I could coast
all my senior year, right?
I made it to the next step.
That's the funny part.
They don't send the tuition
with the acceptance letter.
That letter also had shock.
When you open it up.
You look at it,
and $22,000 a year.
At that time, I'm driving
a car I paid $600 for.
I was totally ready
just to dive deep into debt
because that's what
the journey looks like, right?
That's what everyone
expects it to be.
And, I was gonna be one of them.
ANTHONY: What college
are you going to?
KAMERON: I haven't
gotten like, my financial
package for the college
I'm going to yet, but,
Duke is my passion.
ANTHONY: Why is Duke
your dream school?
KAMERON: I've been
to the campus.
I've toured and I fell
in love with it.
ANTHONY: You fell
in love with -- ?
KAMERON: Like the exp -- Like
the classes, the people there,
the overall, like,
experience of being there.
The connections.
ANTHONY: How much is Duke
goin' to run you?
KAMERON: Yearly, about 75?
ANTHONY: Ooh, my Lord!
KAMERON: [chuckling]
It's undergrad, so,
I'm still thinking about it --
ANTHONY: That's $300,000...
KAMERON: Yeah, I know.
ANTHONY: ...for a degree!
ANTHONY: What about you?
CECI: N.Y.U. really.
CECI: Yep.
that your school?
CECI: Because it's like
saturated with music artists,
with producers,
with opportunities
just out at every corner,
for music in particular.
ANTHONY: How much is it?
CECI: 75?
ANTHONY: My gosh!
CECI: I'm gonna
reach for what I can.
And if N.Y.U. is it,
then I'm gonna reach.
Oh my gosh, that was
so serious, please stop.
Don't leave the silence!
ALL: [laughing]
CLAYTON: Okay, so, I toured
Buffalo back in November,
and I don't know,
I feel like it'll be a lot like
high school as far as like,
arriving, like, there --
Like I know, my parents
talk about college
was like the best years
of their lives and da-da-da.
So, I feel like, the experiences
I'm gonna get at college
are going to be like, unmatched.
ANTHONY: So you're going
all the way to Buffalo State
just to have an upgraded
high school experience?
CLAYTON: [laughs] Yeah.
Keyword, upgraded.
SETH G: Well, if I
wanted to sell a college
to the normal group
of semi-unmotivated,
semi-uninformed people,
I would start
with the football team.
[marching band and cheering]
SETH G: I would move
on to the parties.
[celebratory music]
SETH G: I would then go
on to shiny pictures of
people at graduation.
WILL: We are...
I wouldn't mention student debt.
I wouldn't mention all the hours
you have in-between class,
because most colleges
aren't good at helping
people through that.
BRAD: Picking a school
is a complicated process
between applications and essays
and costs and visitation
and the stuff out there on the
web. It's just overwhelming.
The average person
doesn't know what to look for.
Cause this isn't their world.
And then, all of a sudden,
you get thrust into it,
and it's information overload,
and how do you synthesize it
into something that makes
a whole lot of sense?
GAYLE KING: The new 30th edition
of "Best Colleges"
was just released this morning.
We've got it.
Brian Kelly's editor
of US News and World report.
Good to see you again, Brian
GAYLE: This is getting
to be an annual visit,
and we like it!
DR. JOHN: If you were to ask me,
what's the worst thing
that has happened
to higher education
in the last 20 to 30 years,
I would say unabashedly,
a fledgling magazine decided
to start ranking colleges.
ANNE-MARIE GREEN: Which schools
would have the greatest chance
of giving you
the American dream?
BRIAN: Uh, the usual suspects I
would have to say are Princeton,
Harvard, Yale, Columbia,
Stanford, are the top five.
The whole world wants
to go to these places.
DR. JOHN: Education
is a brand now.
It's a label.
It's an industry.
SETH G: One of the things the US
News and World Report measures
is the percentage of people
that college rejects.
The more people you reject,
the better college you must be.
BRIAN: I always look
at their alumni.
They have their
very loyal alumni.
People who go
to Princeton love Princeton.
They give it money.
They come back.
They stay engaged
with the school.
That makes a difference.
DR. JOHN: And then
they came with this ever
evolving matrix of points.
Really important things like,
your reputation.
How other people
think about you.
That turns into
a higher ed arms race.
CLAYTON: It's like
Nikes versus Gucci.
They're both shoes.
They both work the same,
but one has more value
because of the name.
SETH G: Some colleges
figured out if they
made their dorms nicer,
or their gyms fancier,
more people would wanna come.
SAVANNAH: What's up
with their dorms?
What do they have?
BRIAN: Beautiful campuses.
10 different residence halls.
There's a food service.
It's pretty awe --
SAVANNAH: Looks nice!
HODA KOTB: That's beautiful!
SETH G: If more people
wanted to come,
they discovered the US
News and World Report
would rank them higher.
you accept bribes?
BRIAN: Only very large ones!
I have been lobbied by some of
the finest people in the world.
SETH G: If US News
and Report rank them higher,
more people wanted to come.
If more people wanted to come,
they could charge more,
because their piece of paper
was worth more.
So the ratchet kept turning.
And it kept turning.
And it kept turning.
DR. JOHN: The parents
are demanding it.
The college students
are demanding it.
You have to build it!
Otherwise, they won't
come because your college
isn't good enough.
SETH G: The idea,
that you could spend four years,
not living at home, going
to class three hours a day,
yeah, that's
the definition of privilege,
where ever you came from.
HODA: Best campus food?
ROBERT: It is fabulous.
SETH G: So let's be
really clear,
you shouldn't go
to a famous college.
There should be no reason.
I hope you go to a great
college, but I also know
that some of the cheapest
colleges in America
could be great
if you make 'em great.
If you use your time there
to have a series of experiences
to change your life
and other people's lives --
'Cause that's what you get.
You get four years
of freedom and leverage.
What are you gonna do with it.
Cause if all you're
doing is saying "I'm
gonna give up four years
of my life, and all my money for
a piece of paper at the end,"
well, it doesn't
make sense to pay
what you're currently
paying for the paper.
DAVID: What really was apparent
to me was how much debt
can be that ball
and chain on your ankle
when you actually hop
into the real world.
Once you can change that mental
state of debt actually
doesn't have to be an option,
I can do this a different way,
there's a new found freedom
that comes with that.
Going forward with school I knew
that I wanted to pay for it.
Later on in my senior year
when I went and toured
Wisconsin Lutheran College,
I went to the school
with the mindset
that I'm gonna hate this.
I was thinking,
"Am I shorting myself
by going to a small school?
Will I be able to get
the job I want to because
I went to a no name school?"
Everybody knows the University
of Wisconsin, the Badgers.
How many people know
the Wisconsin Lutheran
College Warriors?
As exciting as D3 football is,
I knew we weren't gonna
be known for that.
But then, when that
tuition bill came,
paired with some scholarships
that I earned in high school,
meant I wouldn't be going
in debt my first year.
That was an eye opener.
DAVE: I'm convinced that most
of the mistakes around college
are simply college choice.
It's that simple.
30 years ago, the difference
in cost of a community college,
a state school and a private
school was not a lot.
And the difference
in what you got 30 years ago,
in terms of the quality
of education was a lot.
The weird thing is,
is that the quality of
education has come up,
on the community
college, so much, and on
the state school so much,
that they're almost
all three parallel now.
But, the cost went
dramatically different.
But here's the thing.
A lot of people get
the basic knowledge of business.
The basic knowledge
of a communication.
The basic knowledge
in an I.T. field
at a community college and get
a really good career out of it.
Information is just
much more accessible now
than it was 30 years ago
to the average person.
SETH G: So let's talk
for a second
about whether you should go
to college at all.
Given that every
single course at M.I.T.
is available on-line for free,
given that with motivation,
you could cover four years of
college course work in a year,
that there are ways
to cobble together
what you would learn in college
and even show up with a degree
without going in the front door,
without paying full price.
And the giant shift
that's happening is that
the people who are hiring,
what they want from you is not
that you went to a school
with a better reputation, or at
least a better football team.
What they want from you
is the real skills.
Creativity, honesty, directness,
leadership, resilience.
And I think we gotta strip away
the easy and fun part,
stop rewarding
it, stop confusing it
with a useful signal,
and instead get back
to the hard part which is,
how we're going
to get productive,
generous human beings.
[soft jazz music]
really going to college
to get my degree.
I'm going to get the knowledge.
So, my plan was to go
Cal Arts right?
That's like,
the Harvard for animation.
DEDAR: Yeah.
And then,
I was like, "I'm set."
But then, two schools
here have animation pr --
so I was like, you know?
Might as well.
I go and check out Lipscomb's
animation program.
And it's the -- the professors
are Disney animators.
So it's like, what I'm getting
here in my home state,
and home city, is
like, for free.
Instead of like getting
into $400k debt.
DEDAR: It's like,
why would I not?
You know?
So you turned down, the Harvard
of animation to come here.
DEDAR: Turned down the chance.
You're banking
on student loans and work,
if not, sounds like you may
not be going to school.
CLAYTON: That's the reality
I've come to face this year.
ANTHONY: You still might
not be able to go to school,
or your dream school?
CLAYTON: I wanna be able
to be comfortable at school.
Like, if I don't go
to my dream school.
Cause I've picked my dream
schools to be the schools
that I would be happy at.
That I would be comfortable at.
CLAYTON: It's like the price you
pay for certain things in life.
Because I could skip
out on college, and go
work a full-time job.
Won't have any debt,
but I won't be happy.
Can't come up with
$13,000 a year, so --
ANTHONY: You can't?
ALL: No.
[ominous music]
DAVID: I honestly didn't
know how I was gonna
pay for year number two.
I -- You go through
the first year of bliss,
but when the tuition bill
hits and you get that
letter in your mailbox
that says tuition
is going up for next year,
no one wants to pay
more money for school.
I was fully prepared
to take a gap year, or
do anything to avoid
having debt my second year,
and continuing on.
tuition can now cost
as much as $50,000 a year,
but luckily one woman
says she's figured out
how to get a college
education for free.
Kristina Ellis earned half a
million dollars in scholarships
and is the author
of "Confessions of a
Scholarship Winner,"
welcome Kristina!
Nice to see you.
KRISTINA: A lot of times when
people hear that I won a half
a million dollars
in scholarships, they
sometimes assume that like,
I just got to pocket
anything that I didn't use.
They're like, "Where's
the car that you bought."
And it's like, "No,
that's not how it works."
That being said, a really
cool thing about pushing
for a lot of scholarships
is that you can actually
get a refund check.
If you live off-campus,
I would actually get
like a $10,000 check
each semester to be able
to pay for my housing
and my books and meals
and transportation, so,
winning scholarships can allow
you to have a lot of freedom
and flexibility with
how you live your life
while you're in college.
ANTHONY: Well, what are your
thoughts on scholarships?
Are you all currently
applying for any right now?
KAMERON: Yes, and it's like,
I don't know where to look.
And it's really
overwhelming because you
hit so many dead-ends.
CLAYTON: It's like 10 million
scholarships, it's just --
It's overwhelming.
It's stressful.
KAMERON: I went to the library
and got scholarship books
and they're garbage.
Like, I'm trying.
ANTHONY: Alright.
AMARI: I was aware
about scholarships.
Honestly, they
were just a hassle.
It's just too many
non-guarantees in there
when I could be working.
Because most of them only
range from like $200 - $1000,
and that doesn't even put
a thump in how much tuition is
at most universities.
[soft music]
KRISTINA: I think it's great
to have the conversation
about scholarships
your freshman year.
Because it gives students time
to develop a resume
without a lot of pressure.
That being said, a
lot of students think
that it's too late
to apply for scholarships
if they already started college,
and that's just not true.
There are scholarships
that are available for students
all throughout
their college experience.
ANTHONY: The gap is,
really, there's a lack
of financial education
inside of our schools.
And then, too,
there's just a lack of wise
council along this journey,
and were not taking the time
to teach our young people
to step back
and to do the research --
KRISTINA: If you spent two hours
filling out an application
that allows you
to win a $1000 scholarship,
that's like making $500 an hour.
That is significant.
I mean, what other
part time job in high school
are you gonna find
that makes that amount of money?
DAVID: I decided I wanna make
looking at scholarships
like my full-time job.
If I just hit one of those
$500 scholarships
after applying for ten of them,
it's still worthwhile.
KRISTINA: So much of it is about
habits and just getting
in a groove of consistently
putting in the effort.
It doesn't have
to be so overwhelming
if you just break it down
into just manageable steps.
ANTHONY: You may have
to come home, spend two hours --
Spend three hours
on the internet, grinding.
You may get a lot of no's, but
that one yes, that second yes,
that third yes, is gonna be
worth all the no's that you got.
Scholarships are
a great opportunity.
[soft dramatic music]
KRISTINA: There are millions
of scholarships given away,
every single year
for so many different reasons.
You can get a scholarship
for being tall, for being short,
there's a vegetarian
There's a scholarship
for being a golf caddy,
for having the best
zombie apocalypse escape plan.
The criteria so broad that it's
a numbers game in many senses.
Don't write off
the $500 scholarship.
Don't write off
the $1000 scholarship,
because those are often where
students find the most success.
DAVID: There are some I didn't
find out until the last second.
And there some that I
got, that I didn't even
know I was going to get.
KRISTINA: If you are still
enrolled in a university,
you should still do
your research and try
to find scholarships.
If you are currently
taking out student loans
to get through school,
take a moment to do some
research and see the
vast options available.
DAVE: Where you do not have set
goals, and you do not go through
a series of behaviors
with intentionality
you are never going
to be, in that area of
your life, successful.
And college is no
exception to that.
ANTHONY: Every single day,
you're being intentional
about the decisions
you make that's going
to get you in college
and through college
without borrowing a dime.
[soft dramatic music]
ELEVATOR: Going down.
AMARI: It sets in once
you apply for graduation.
It's like "Okay,
I will no longer be in school,
so I no longer have
that crutch of putting off."
Because now at this
point, I am gonna have
to come up with a plan
as to when I'm gonna
start paying it back off,
how much I'm gonna have
to start paying back off,
and what I can even
afford to pay back off.
And, there's a bunch of stuff
that comes with adulthood
that you just don't account for.
It does kinda make
me worry about what I'm
gonna do then. You know?
Like, I don't wanna be still
paying back student loans
when I'm supposed
to be nearing retirement.
But, being realistic in life,
looking at it, it's like,
well, maybe I won't be because
$13,000 could turn into $25,000
easily depending
on how I manage that.
Because it's a lot of my peers
who leave a four year university
and still don't have
a job for six months.
And that's when
you have to start paying
back your student loans!
So it's like, what do you do?
[soft dramatic music]
COURTNEY: Moving to Van Wert,
we tried buying a home.
Like it wasn't a very nice home,
but it was in well means.
And, we applied
for a loan and got denied.
Definitely like,
put us in perspective, like,
we would never get a house.
We wouldn't be able to
have kids. We're not
gonna be able to live.
JOSIAH: We had a point in time
where we actually
did not go shopping
for a full month.
And we didn't have food
outside of basically
some boxes of pasta,
and, like, watered down
spaghetti sauce,
'cause we did not have enough
money to literally go for --
to buy groceries.
And that's with every
credit card maxed
out, everything, like,
just literally backs to the
wall, pinned up against it.
COURTNEY: Like, we've
officially hit rock bottom.
JOSIAH: I had just looked
back at that money I owe,
and realize, what did
it actually get me.
I know it got me
a college degree.
And I know it got
me experiences, but
is a college degree
and experiences
worth $125,000?
DR. JOHN: We don't think
anymore. We just do.
So much of our mental health
challenges in this country
are because we let our feelings
and our emotions drive our day.
College choice is no difference.
We've gotten so
unintentional about it.
And then we figure out
how we pay for it later.
Now we blinked and there's
a couple of trillion of dollars
floating around out there
on the backs of 19, 20,
25-year-olds, 40-year-olds.
It just comes like
a car payment, like a mortgage.
That's just a payment we have.
That's a way of life,
and we've got to re-center that.
JUSTIN: So who's the first
person on the schedule?
LAUREN MCDANIEL: It's a console.
JUSTIN: Oh, okay.
When I was ten, I got hit
in the mouth with a golf ball.
So it like,
broke my two front teeth.
And unfortunately I was the one
that hit the golf ball,
so it came back and hit me
right in the mouth.
I was kinda in and our
of the dentist office as a kid,
so that's what got me
interested in Orthodontics.
I got out of
undergrad debt-free.
But, then it quickly
went the other direction.
[soft dramatic music]
JUSTIN: Finished dental school.
I had probably somewhere around
$400,000 in student loans.
Ortho and oral surgery are two
most competitive residencies.
And a majority of programs,
I mean they only have
three or four seats each year.
And they probably have
15,000 applications.
So, I mean, you have to be up
in the top of your class
to even get an interview.
Alright, you just
gotta stay biting down
to hold that in place
for me, okay?
JUSTIN: Once I was in residency,
the tuition was $95,000 a year.
I mean, at that point, what --
I didn't have any other options.
It was either, you know, you're
not gonna be an orthodontist
or this is what you're gonna do.
DR. JOHN: There is
a "bottomless-pit of
money," if you will.
I consider private loan folks,
the same as payday lenders.
There's always a place
to go find money, right?
It's just gonna
cost you your soul.
But there's money out there
if you're gonna do the things
you gotta do to get it.
BRAD: We're seeing
private educational
loans becoming larger
and larger where there's no real
governmental control
like there is under
the federal programs.
Those, you're at
the mercy of your lender.
And for that, I can't tell you
what's gonna happen.
But, you're at the mercy of a
private credit-based lender,
and you owe tens of thousands
of dollars. Good luck.
[soft dramatic music]
about it like a car payment.
You've agreed this much money
over this many months
at this much amount
to pay it back.
When you don't
[knocks], we want it.
Give me your pound
of flesh, now.
And that pound of flesh could
come in all different ways,
but they have to sue
you to get that.
Then you have now,
a judgement against you,
that they can then do other
things. For instance.
Garnish a paycheck,
if you have one.
Garnish a bank account
if you have one.
Repossess a vehicle
if you own it,
to be made whole
because they lent you money.
What we also have to think
about though, with that is,
roughly 90% of those
are co-signers.
So the co-signer
could be mom or dad,
grandma and grandpa
is a huge one,
and there's nothing
worst, sitting around
thanksgiving table,
telling grandpa
you can't pay that,
and grandpa already knows
because he was served
with a lawsuit too.
SETH F: We had borrowers
with private student loans,
where they would be paying
their loan on time, faithfully,
and they're, like,
parent or grand parent
who co-signed their loans died,
and instantly, despite the fact
that they were paying,
they're like, "Now your in
default, give us all our money."
BEVERLY: I had someone -- She
was in a horrific car accident,
paralyzed her and her mother
was killed in the car accident
which triggered the default
on the private student loans.
She was hoping
to get back to work.
She was, you know, working
for her degree in nursing
and she had a
closed head injury.
And I thought, okay,
this is the case!
This is it!
We can do this!
And, the court, in that
at the end of the day,
because she was gonna
qualify most likely for
home social security disability,
that meant that she had
the ability to pay it back.
LAUREN: Green bean
casserole with stuffing,
but I want to try to figure out
how to make stuffing,
cause even if I add some broth
to it, it won't be so dry.
JUSTIN: It won't be dry.
But we'll try it and see.
JUSTIN: One way to find out.
When it came to student
loans, like you could
get whatever you wanted.
[ominous music]
There's problems
on both sides of that.
There're people
that are giving them money,
and there are people
that are taking the money.
I mean, $95,000
times 15 residents,
you're talking about
1.3 million dollars
in tuition from 15 people.
[ominous music]
And the international residents
that were there paid $140,000
in tuition every year.
You're a number.
You're a paycheck.
[ominous music continues]
And who you're surrounded
by in those years are people
who probably know nothing
about personal finance.
Have the same loans
that you have.
And you literally just --
You do everything you can
just to not
even think about it.
It's not like, I'm
getting a loan and they're
giving me the money
and then I have to actually
give it to the school.
I never saw it.
It's scary.
But at that point
you're just like, whatever man.
With all the interest
and everything that I
already had on my loans,
I probably had 500 or $600,000.
I'm like, sure just
throw it on there.
[ominous music continues]
LAUREN: You wanna go ahead
and take care of that?
Can we do the impressions?
JUSTIN: [indistinct response]
It's a ton of money, and it is.
It's scary.
And I think early on too,
it was just --
We had to have like
a lot of, like, hard
conversations about it.
How are we gonna pay it off?
Do we just go on a minimum
repayment plan
and you just pay it off forever?
Like, how do you even
begin to get out of it.
JUSTIN: The people who
are writing the loans,
they don't care.
I just got an offer
on my student loan, like,
"Oh, you qualify to lower
your interest rate!"
Well, why'd you wait till I have
$300,000 in interest
to lower my interest rate?
Why don't you lower it before?
Cause you just wanted
all the interest.
MIKE: These student loans,
you know, they never go away.
Unlike so much other debt
that can be "forgiven,"
you know in the wake
of a bankruptcy for instance.
It's like stepping in gum,
man, like it's with you,
forever and ever and ever.
LAUREN: So, it is accruing about
$6,000 of interest every month.
[upbeat music]
JUDGE: Mr. Frotman, you are now
recognized for five minutes
to present your oral testimony.
SETH F: Over the course
of the last decade,
I traveled all across
this country
talking to thousands
of people in big cities,
small towns and nearly every
slice of America in between.
And from these conversations,
I have found one aspect
of life cuts across.
The fall out from
extraordinary student debt.
There are now more than
8 million student loan
borrowers in default.
We had a million student loan
borrowers default last year,
year before that,
the year before that,
year before that,
So if you do the math.
That means, every 28 seconds,
another student loan borrower
defaults on his loan.
On top of that,
we have three million
more borrowers who are behind.
That's over 10 million people,
or one out of four
student loan borrowers
who are having their
financial lives ruined
as they can't make
their payments.
People with student debt
had just felt invisible.
You take on debt?
That's what you're
supposed to do.
This is good debt,
stop complaining.
But the ramifications
for your financial life
are the same if not worse.
Like student loan borrowers have
less rights, less protections,
and we use the full weight
of the government
to make sure you pay that back.
[intense music]
at all of the things
that are going on right here,
and I'm just --
Article after article,
what certainly seems like a very
large amount of corruption.
In 2009, SallieMae CEO said,
"If a borrower can create
condensation on a mirror, they
need to get a loan this year,"
in order to put their
sub-prime lending in place.
Navient forwarded wrong
information of credit
reporting agencies,
saying that permanently disabled
veterans had defaulted
on their loans when they hadn't.
Then you have I.T.T. Credit
Union using financial aid staff
to rush students up through
an automated application process
when they knew
that they had projected
default rates as high as 64%!
So they were setting
people up to fail.
SETH F: These are series
of public policy choices
at the federal government,
at the state government,
that have gotten us here.
I think this is the intersection
between so much debt
and illegal practices, right?
Because, there's this enormous
mismatch between what borrowers
are promised and what's
happening on the ground,
and in between
are student loan companies,
this is not just some one-off
company or like, one bad apple.
You see players across
the student loan spectrum
who just view this
as their chance to get rich.
[dramatic upbeat music]
is Lynn Sabulski,
I am a former employee
of Navient's call center.
I thought it was going to be
really easy straight forward job
that I would understand
the rules, that
I would perform well.
The longer, I was there,
I started to notice red flags.
[phone ringing]
People were being asked to lie.
People were not being given
the right information.
In general, there was just this
oppressive environment
that wasn't really allowing the
representatives to do the job
that they were being paid to do.
BEVERLY: There is a memo
that Navient Counsel told
and had the mantra to the people
that you would call,
those customer service people.
Forebear, forebear, forebear.
Get these people that way.
- Forbearance:
an agreement to postpone
your loan payments while
interest continues to accrue.
LYNN: When Navient puts
an account in forbearance,
they get to collect
the interest.
Those loan balances increase,
they are now collecting interest
on top of interest.
That is the most beneficial
scenario for them.
SETH F: We sued one of the
biggest student loan companies
in the country, Navient.
And a single claim,
as part of that lawsuit,
documented how the practices of
this company added four billion,
with a B, dollars
of unnecessary interest
on to the most
vulnerable borrowers.
our friends across the aisle
have mentioned that student loan
services are supposedly
not incentivized as to your
borrowers towards forbearance
and they are not financially
incentivized to give borrowers
poor or outright
incorrect advice.
Yet, an audit release by the
D.O.E. in February this year,
found that more than 60% of the
department's oversight report,
contained examples of servicers
acting improperly.
If our friends across
the aisle are correct,
and loan servicers are not
incentivized to make mistakes
and give poor advice, then why
is this consistently happening?
SETH F: Because they're wrong.
Because they are incentivized
to give bad advice.
They're incentivized to get
their call reps off the phone
as quick as possible, which
we see across the industry,
leading to the outcomes
we have today.
LYNN: This part of our
training was keeping your
calls to seven minutes.
If I don't keep
my call to seven minutes,
I have a lower status
at the end of the day.
I'm considered as not
having performed as well.
If you're a representative
and you're choice is,
"give this person
the help they need,
or get in trouble
in some way shape or form,"
then really, you're pitting
one person against the other.
I was talking to my co-workers
over lunch and over break,
and a few of my
co-workers said that,
there's just no way to answer
all of those questions
in a way that was satisfactory
and maintain
the numbers that
we were maintaining.
And so, they would be on their
call, and they would just press
a button and go, "Oops!"
[phone dial tone]
Dial again.
BEVERLY: Funny enough,
Navient's still in business,
making a kajillion dollars a
year, and still has contracts
with the federal government.
Hm. Angry yet?
CATIE BECK: On the shoreline
of Maui's Wailea Beach,
at the luxurious Fairmont hotel,
SallieMae executives
and more than a hundred
of its employees
are on a five day paid trip
celebrating a record year.
5 billion in student loans
to 374,000 borrowers!
session and recognition
of accomplishments
for our sales force, is but
something that has been done,
I'm gonna say, since the
company was founded in 1972.
And it's recognition
of the hard work,
but it's an important
piece of planning.
I think we're done.
SETH F: That is,
like, a general sentiment
that we hear frequently, which
is, "We love getting the money
to be involved
in the student loans system."
But when it actually comes to
doing the work to help borrowers
to avoid the defaults,
you know, how dare you
accuse us of being
part of the problem.
And so, we sued
this company in court,
and one of their top
legal arguments were, "Judge,
you should dismiss this
case because we have no
actual responsibility
to help borrowers."
JOSIAH: I'm being cheated
out of my paycheck.
I could retire
two years after I'm done
paying my student loans.
It's like paying for retirement
and literally never seeing
a dime of it ever again.
SETH F: You should know
the names of the companies
that have targeted
your constituency.
Citibank, Discover Bank,
Navient, Pheaa, QuinStreet,
SallieMae, SoFi,
Transworld, Wells Fargo,
and the list goes on.
[soft dramatic music]
LYNN: In a way,
there's no morality in
the student loan system
because there is no one
that's going to stop
you from borrowing.
At the end of the day,
it's just, you know,
you type a couple buttons in,
and on the other side there's a
student loan with some numbers.
That is the most
personal it gets.
[ominous music]
JOSIAH: So, this right
here is my college diploma.
Don't even take it
out of the envelope.
In fact, I had to have
my mother mail it to me,
'cause I didn't know
what it was.
So, let's see.
Stamped, signed and sealed.
That's not going
to ever be framed.
Not going to ever leave
this envelop again,
and I'm sure
I could have the degree.
It allows me to do something
that I love to do in teaching,
but this piece of paper
is something that has brought
a lot of pain in my life.
I don't really
want to look at it.
[soft suspenseful music]
AMARI: You could talk to someone
who's graduated 10 years ago,
and they still
owe student loans.
So it's like, if I could meet
a complete stranger
and this is what we have
in common, that's an issue.
[music continues]
JUSTIN: The borrower is
a slave to a lender, and
like, that's so true.
When you have this kind
of debt or really any
debt, you feel that.
It changes who you are,
and how you can behave.
It changes your life.
GPS: You've arrived
at your destination.
DAVE: The choices that
they've made now own them.
And they were led down this
primrose path by a set of values
put on them by a series of
guidance counselors and parents
who weren't thinking, educators
who were out of control,
and a congress who
continues this ridiculous
student loan debacle.
And here they sit trapped.
And they do not know what to do.
COURTNEY: I'mma try to do
this without crying.
I feel like, when he told me how
much student loan debt he had,
it wasn't going to make me
change the way I felt about him.
Like, you're debt isn't bringing
you down as a person, you know?
Millions of Americans
are struggling with
the same problem.
Like, it's not just your fault.
I like, I don't care
how much debt he'll ever have.
I will still always love him.
But I don't think
he realized that.
JOSIAH: I feel like I've failed
as the provider, as the husband,
because I'm the reason
that we're in so much debt.
We only had a total of $142,000.
A hundred and twenty some
of that is my college.
It's literally like
saying, you're the reason
your team is losing.
If they --
If you weren't on this team,
we'd be winning.
But because of one thing, it
takes everybody down with them.
[soft dramatic music]
COURTNEY: The first hardest
thing it was for me
was right after we got married,
we could not go on a honeymoon.
And I know that sounds,
like, cliche, but like,
you don't realize
you'll never have that,
like, moment,
that like, time again.
Like, newlyweds get to go
to like this awesome place.
Like it's something you look
forward to when you get married.
And like, we lost out
on, like, that time.
That was hard.
JOSIAH: I know she still
loves me no matter what,
and I'm so grateful for that,
but, it's stopped us
from being able to get a house
when we moved down to Van Wert,
and it stopped us for a long
time from not having kids.
Like, I'm not being the man
that I'm supposed to be.
[soft dramatic music]
JUSTIN: Looking at, you
know, what it's gonna
look like to actually
attempt to pay it
off, paying somewhere
around $10,000 a month,
you know, sounds like
it's gonna, you know,
actually do something,
but it's not gonna do as much
as you'd like to
think that it will.
At some point, it's
gonna have to be, you
know, you're paying 20,
30, $40,000 a month.
To be able to pay 30
or $40,000 a month, I mean,
you gotta be making
a lot of money.
You know I think, realizing,
you know, what it is
and just knowing that...
you know it's probably
not going to be possible,
you know without --
[voice breaking]
the help of God.
I mean...How am I going
to make that much money?
But, all you can do
is just try, so...
SETH G: There're a lot of people
who quite rightfully say,
I did everything
I was told to do.
Now, I'm in a boat load of debt.
I'm not happy about it.
How're we gonna keep this
cycle from repeating itself.
Well to the first
group of people,
I'm sorry that you shouldn't
have trusted the system.
The system let you down.
How do we keep from
repeating it is,
stop telling people this is what
they're supposed to do.
Stop telling people
that this is the path.
It might be easier.
It's definitely more fun in
the short run, but here it is,
What you're supposed
to do is figure out how
to make a contribution,
not figure out
how to make a marketing,
industrial governance system
happy in the short run.
DAVID: What was the
first step you took in
terms of you getting out
the lifestyle that you were.
Changed my mind.
What are you putting inside
of this, that comes out of this,
that comes out of this.
A degree that y'all
are tryn'a get,
is a small degree
when it comes to your life.
This right here is everything.
And when I changed
what I was putting up here,
that's when my
whole life changed.
Each and every single one of you
all need to have a clear vision
of what you wanna do.
The vision is not,
"I wanna go to this school.
I wanna have this experience."
No, what is the vision
for your life.
"I wanna have options.
I want freedom."
The question is, are you willing
to put in the work upfront.
If you can grasp that,
you will be successful.
[soft dramatic strings]
DAVID: Going into my senior
year, I knew it'd be close.
I can do the Math, so can you.
Working at a normal
hourly job would not pay
the necessary $14,000
I needed for school.
I knew what I had to do.
I went for something
with more opportunity,
and that was a sales
commission job,
and really went
and made the most of it.
Usually worked four days a week,
10 hour shifts,
and then on my off-days, I'd
sell lawn-mowers and flip them.
Driving across the state.
Hey, how's it going!
MALE: Good, how 'bout you?
DAVID: Good!
It's right over here.
Little did I know that, there
was so much opportunity in it.
[uplifting music]
DAVID: Well, I know you had it
listed for six but,
would you take five on it, cash?
[mower running]
ANTHONY: We gotta teach
young people
how to really take ownership
of their life.
If they're paying something
outta their pocket,
they will take their
education experience
a little more serious,
because now they can say,
my parents didn't pay for it,
we paid for it.
DAVID: This is just
simplistic to me.
It's something
that I understand and,
I don't think lawn-mowers
is for everybody.
So, someone who is interested
in shoes would be better suited
to do something like that.
As long as you have
knowledge in an area,
you can probably figure out
a way to make money with it.
SETH G: During this
expensive period,
if you have the resources,
and the time,
how will you choose
to spend it,
so that when the system
tries to squeeze you,
you can say, "No thank you!"
DAVID: Got these
pictures uploaded,
gotta do some cropping,
get them posted, then wait.
There was one guy I bought
a bigger zero-turn, paid $1,700.
Brought it home,
washed it, listed it,
sold it for $2,600 same day.
My mom would be dumbfounded.
"Are you sure you're
allowed to do that?"
Like, Mom, it's selling
lawn-mowers, I don't
know what else you want.
You definitely have a lot
of noise around you saying,
take out loans,
you're not able to do this.
Once you find that window
of opportunity though,
and realize that if you repeat
this process over
and over like I did
with lawn-mowers,
there's just so
much empowerment.
And that feeling
of running after this goal,
and chasing it down and putting
everything you have into it,
that's hard to explain.
Alright, she's all ready to go.
CUSTOMER: $800, yeah?
When you start opening
your eyes and looking
to these unique
opportunities, you could
add value in unique ways.
All good!
Enjoy it!
In total, that summer,
I probably made around $13,000.
That point, I could say,
I'm getting out of these
four years debt-free.
DAVID: Well, I dunno if we're
allowed to go here, but we are.
Ah sweet!
That's cool.
DR. JOHN: So I remember
once when I was an undergrad
and I asked my history
professor, "Why did
they send all these 18
and 19 year old US soldiers
to a Normandy invasion?"
And he said something
that shook me.
He said, "Because any combat
veterans who saw that plan
would have said no way."
[soft dramatic music]
D-Day worked because
of some extraordinary planning,
some extraordinary sacrifice.
And what he said,
was good ol' fashioned,
unabated American
teenage arrogance.
Cause they got up in front
and told those boys,
Nine out of ten of you
will not come home.
90 out of 100 of you
are not coming back.
And those guys in line went,
"Sucks to be that guy, right?"
And they did that
all the way down.
'Cause when you're a teenager,
you're invincible.
It's gonna happen
to somebody else.
And so, I have to know,
no matter how honest I'm being,
and how upfront I'm being,
"Hey, this is expensive,
and you're gonna have
to pay this back."
I have to know
that my end consumer,
the 18-year-olds going
"Okay, we'll get there,"
and has no understanding
of what $700 a month
actually feels like out
of a $2,400 a month paycheck.
CLAYTON: I just -- I feel like
I'm just so worried about what,
like, having a sacrifice
my happiness for
like a cheaper route.
Like having to sacrifice
what really makes me happy
and brings me joy on a day to
day basis just to save money.
Like, happiness is
worth anything. Like,
you know what I mean?
That's the part I'm confused on.
Like, if you're not happy in
life, at that given moment,
no matter what it takes,
does it really matter,
the happiness later on?
ANTHONY: I'm not saying
you can't be happy.
I want you to be happy.
But I feel as if your happiness
comes from something
that is outside of education.
And I feel as if you're
looking for something
to confirm something
on the internal side of you,
not something
to help you grow as a man.
Because, if you're looking
for the education,
then you can get
the education anywhere.
But from what you said,
you just wanna go there
so you can have a good time.
I would really step back
and ask myself,
what's more important.
Happiness for four years
that cost me 30,
or a little bit of happiness
but hard work
that really makes me happy
for the rest of my life.
And if it was me, I'm saying,
"Man, I'm putting in the work."
[soft string music]
DAVID: I look back
at my four years, and,
is was the time of my life.
I got to travel
a bunch for really cheap.
Been to Alaska, California,
Texas, Florida --
But the reality is,
it's not the buildings,
it's not the sports, it's not
the land around the school
that make the experience.
It's all up to you.
It's not the school
that's gonna change that.
[soft string music]
DAVID'S MOM: So which one
of these are you sitting at.
DAVID: I'm way,
like, over there.
You'll have to get
your binoculars out
and squint a little.
MOM: I actually brought them.
DAVID: You did?
MOM: I did.
ANTHONY: You know what the
difference is between
a normal person and someone
who is not normal?
Is the not normal person
was willing to do the things
that normal people
are not willing to do.
I do not want to live
the majority of my life
not being able to do
what I want to do
because I gotta pay
for things in my past.
That's the normal
I refuse to be a part of.
SETH G: Students need
to begin by saying,
I refused to be brainwashed
into believing
that if I get into
a good college,
that means I'm better
than if I don't.
So go find a door you can afford
and go through that door.
And figure out how to marshal
the resources you need.
Whether it's scholarships
or only going part time,
or taking a gap year,
and working like crazy,
putting $25,000 in the bank,
so at least, your first year,
you're not starting
with free and easy money
you're going to be
paying off for decades.
DAVE: It never was the degree
that caused people to succeed.
It was the knowledge base,
the tools in their belt,
to be able to get
their work done.
That's what caused
people to succeed.
It's still what causes
people to succeed.
Whether you can demonstrate
that you have the skills
to do the job is going
to be a much higher indicator
than where you went
to school or for that matter,
even if you have the degree.
MIKE: I think there's
a real opportunity for
guidance counselors
and parents to talk to their
kids about how they wanna work,
as opposed to what
they wanna do.
I think a smarter thing
to tell a person who's
trying to figure out
what they want to be
when they grow up,
is to say, "Put it all
on the table."
And if you do that, you're
liable to be a very happy,
satisfied plumber,
making six figures a year,
or perhaps running our own
mechanical contract company.
It's not the job that
makes you happy, it's you.
SETH G: So what this
is really about is freedom.
It's about earning the
freedom to decide what
you wanna do next.
ANNOUNCER: David James Wilson,
Bachelor of Arts,
Business Administrations,
Summa Cum Laude.
ANTHONY: Here's a secret
to you about being successful.
You're not looking
at the picture today.
You're looking at the
end picture, what kind
of future do you want,
and the choice you're
making now will impact it.
DAVID: I can choose
what opportunities I want.
I can choose
where I want to live.
I can decide my job.
I can focus my time
on things that matter to me.
Which will lead to greater
satisfaction down the road.
The best feeling is knowing that
this journey that I'm starting
with the rest of life,
I don't have to carry
any baggage with me.
[uplifting music]
ANTHONY: Can you imagine getting
off that stage, going home,
walking into your
job for the very first
time, it's your career,
and when you get that
first paycheck, that
paycheck is yours?
[uplifting music continues]
Can you imagine having freedom
at 22, making 35, 40,
$45,000 a year?
[uplifting music continues]
Walking the stage debt-free
is not just about walking
the stage debt-free, but you're
walking into life debt-free.
[uplifting music ending]
["Polar Nights" playing]