Some highlights from a Student Loan “Exit Interview,” which as you surely guessed is a text-based online quiz. This post is dedicated to all my friends and peers who are unjustifiably buried in debt.

“A sure way to help pay for college and to avoid excess borrowing is to work part-time. Not only will you be covering expenses, but you will gain valuable work experience. Be careful, however, not to overload your study time with work; part-time employment should be part-time.”

  • Will reducing your debt levels now help you in the future?
    (Yes / No)
  • You do not need to include your personal expenses, clothing and entertainment when figuring out a budget.
    (True / False)

100 percent of the balance of your student loan will be canceled in the event of your death. [This one isn’t funny because it became effective August 14, 2008.]


As for the financial system, I figured out how to fix it. Tomorrow, I’m moving my meager savings out of J.P. Morgan “Chase” Bank and putting it into Patelco, my local Community Credit Union. I will have all the same services, but a much lighter conscience. I never even signed up for Chase in the first place, I was a Washington Mutual customer and one day they changed all the signs and started calling my branch by a new name…

My loan educational experience this evening is the reason why I will switch tomorrow. The reason I found Patelco in the first place was out of sheer desperation, and my friend Laura’s alleviating recommendation. What could make me so desperate? I stepped foot inside a Chase bank.

It’s not what you think either, I hate bureaucracy and corporate drudgery as much as the next person, but it wasn’t so bad this time. By the end of my journey I made it to a cubicle in the back of the floor with an associate (or representative? maybe a banker? I don’t know what they’re called). I just needed some checks. Turns out she wanted to chat, and I soon found out that she too was a Berkeley grad, in political science. How odd, I thought. Do Harvard and Yale graduates work jobs like this? Is it some entry-level process I don’t understand? But, I didn’t want to be judgemental, and hell… I needed a job too, and you gotta take what you can get.

But by the end of our little meeting, this associate was pulling out laminated graphical diagrams, dropping Chase lingo, and serving me all this rhetoric about how I could use a Chase credit card, and how I could start earning points (not only double, but triple for such a valued customer). It made me sick! So much baloney! And the twist in my stomach formed. The powers of persuasion and critical thinking my alma mater prides itself on creating were performed on me in a bewildering and cosmically sinister mess. What do they teach folks in Political Science, anyway? By the end I was anxious; I ran out of ways to say “No, thanks” without breaking the fragile politeness between us for swift ranting. I was lucky I could hold my smile in place long enough to bid this associate adieu and scramble outside, gasping for air.