What About MY Leg? A Story About Student Loan Forgiveness

This Tweet was made in response to someone saying that student loan forgiveness is “unfair” to everyone who worked hard to pay off their student loans. @transsnowcone says: “I know everybody wants a COVID vaccine, but what about the hundreds of thousands of people who died of it? They’ll never get the chance to get vaccinated, therefore we should just stop working on the vaccine and allow everyone else to die of it too” Check her out – she is delightful!

There has been talk of student loan holders getting a chunk of their debt forgiven after the presidential inauguration in January 2021. This would be absolutely fantastic and help a lot of people become financially stable, but of course, those who had already paid off significant debts pointed out that this will not help their situations.

I’ve been screaming about student loan forgiveness since I was in graduate school. Over the past four years, I have made enormous progress on my debt. (Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those “If I can do it, you can do it” blogs where I ignore my own obvious privilege. Have I worked hard? Absolutely! Are there factors that make this easier for me than it might be for other people? Also yes.) There is a possibility that, by the time this forgiveness is rolled out, I won’t have any more student loans.

I’ve been asked if I would be upset if I paid back my loans and then other people’s loans were forgiven. The short answer is no. For a slightly longer answer, I wrote a little story that I hope you enjoy. Here it goes!

What About MY Leg?

Scene: three people are in a room. One sits in a chair (A), one lies on the floor and yells in pain (B), and one tends to the person on the floor (C).

C: Your leg is broken. We need to set the bone.
A: I once had a broken leg. It was broken way worse! The bone was sticking out! And nobody helped me set it. I did it all by myself. You should set your own broken leg too.
B: I’m in too much pain! I need help so my leg can heal.
A: You just need to try harder. No one helped me when my leg was broken.
C: I’m sorry no one helped you, but we can make it so that no one else suffers the way you did.
A: I still have a limp from how it healed. Why are you fixing THIS leg while I still have a limp?
C: We can get you support for the limp, but this person needs help NOW.

This is what you sound like when you ask about people who didn’t get loan forgiveness. If it gets passed the day after I make my final payment, I will still be happy that people got help. Would I like to be reimbursed for my education? Sure! But letting other people struggle doesn’t make my life any better.

Let’s practice caring about others even when it doesn’t benefit us.

Published by Amy Marschall, Psy.D.

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. Her clinical interests are varied and include child and adolescent therapy, TF-CBT, rural psychology, telemental health, sexual and domestic violence, psychological assessment, and mental illness prevention. Dr. Marschall presently works in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she provides individual and family therapy and psychological assessment to children, adolescents, and college students. She also facilitates an art therapy group for adolescents and college students with anxiety and depression. Dr. Amy Marschall is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Telemental Health.

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