College Loan Slavery - Student Debt Is Getting Way Out of Hand
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November 12, 2008: Recent American college and university graduates find themselves with high student debts and low job prospects as their country heads into a recession, leading to an inability to pay even the interest on their loan and finding themselves with ever-higher debts.



Game and Story Use

  • Player character motivation is important for the smooth flow of a campaign. Unexpected but crushing student debts can be a powerful motivating force for recent graduates in a Present Day setting (or in any other time and place with similar situations) - leading otherwise ordinary people to desperately accept dangerous, risky, and/or illegal jobs which under normal situation they would never even consider. The conflict between their financial situation and their ethics can serve as a great source of drama and character development, and it should be easy to emphasize with the unexpected situation they find themselves in.
    • This situation might not only apply to a single PC, but to the entire party - all of them a friends back from college and find themselves unexpectedly unemployed, and now decide to get involved in a risky adventure to raise some desperately needed cash. But they have a plan. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
    • Don't forget to use this situation to get the affected PCs in trouble with collection agencies!
  • Long term this may help to reverse the somewhat blind rush of the middle class into University education - a university education is increasingly becoming an inflated asset as the price outstrips the recoverable value. Sooner or later this may lead back to the majority of people seeking non-academic skills with universities only serving those with an absolute requirement for it,
  • Cyberpunk is particularly friendly to this trope, with corporations "sponsoring" an education for someone and thus holding a huge debt over them as, effectively an indenture.
    • Also a good way for knowledge that isn't "useful" to be lost: after a few decades of the corps only sponsoring "employable" degrees, it starts getting harder to find faculty for history or fine arts. Entire fields might dry up, leaving nothing but idle rich dilettantes and old textbooks.
  • A systematic campaign of bankruptcies might have an interesting effect, but this may vary depending on local bankruptcy laws.
    • As anyone who was around for the 2008 housing crash remembers, people racking up unsustainable debts can have ripple effects through the entire system.
  • This is a golden opportunity for politicians looking to buy upper middle class votes - by "cancelling" student debt they can transfer taxpayer's money to create a client class of university graduates, probably at the expense of the non-graduate population. A "debt holiday" might serve even better as rather than cancel the debt they can suspend it and claim that their political opponents will revive it.
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