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Attorney Christine Kingston Talks With Katherine On “This Needs To Be Said” About Student Debt And How There is Hope.

Categories: Interview, Student Loans

 

Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here on, This Needs to Be Said, our friend, attorney, Christine Kingston is here and she’s going to be sharing with you. Why it’s so important that you hear what she has to say today. If you have student debt and you thought you were going to die with that debt, there was no way out. And it’s over your head. Just like all things that happened at the turn of a new year. There is hope. Welcome back, Christine, how are you?

Katherine, Good to talk to you again. I’m excited and I’m doing fantastic. Thank you.

Absolutely, Listen. We are closing. We’re closing in. Look at me adding syllables. We are closing this year 2020, and I’m just looking back at it. There’s been a lot of things that, you know, we, as adults felt like we shouldn’t be made to do we’re adults. I became an adult so I can do what I want to do. No, one’s going to tell me what to do and then we get to the end. And I think we’ve discovered, I’m sort of glad someone made me do what I didn’t know I needed to do so I could discover the gift in it. And during this time, I understand that you have been able to put some more time into a book. That’s going to benefit many people that have a school debt.

I’m excited about it, and I’m excited to share it. And I know you’ve been a real champion for this book for me and for the people that need it. And thank you for that. I I’ve been working hard on it and obviously life gets in the way but I just I’m, I I’m proud to report it and Katherine, that I’m getting close to publishing this, probably in the next few months. So I’m excited about that. Yeah, and it’s called how to tame the student loan dragon. So it’s really all about the 43 million people suffering from student loan debt and ways that they can get that debt under control options that they can use and tools that they can have available for them to handle it. And then God will in the Creek don’t rise. Maybe they can actually slay the dragon and get rid of it altogether.

So there’s, a few tips and tricks on possibly how to do that but those are very narrow type of programs that might be available for people. So I’m very excited. I’m going to be talking about, you know, some of the problems we have now think about what happened in 2020, we’ve got all the kids going home from college, they shut down the campuses, but you know what They didn’t do Katherine. They didn’t cut the tuition. So they’re keeping the prices the same, forcing everybody to use their own expenses, computers, electricity things like that, stay at home, but they haven’t cut the tuition. What’s wrong with that picture, right, Wow! What’s wrong with that picture It’s bad enough. They took tuition over the last 20 years and raised it by 230%. They’re still not helping people in a pandemic.

Now in your book, give us some sneak peeks. You know, I like to, be the first to know stuff. So what’s one in the book? What’s one of the points in the book that you said, okay, I must have this in the book. And here’s why.

I think what’s important. This book has a lot of my client’s stories. The names are changed to protect them but I think the stories are important because the student loans are, are long tail conversation. I do a historical perspective in the beginning. So it’s interesting. We got to know how we got here, because unless you know how you got to where you’re at, we don’t know, we don’t have, you know, can’t figure out where to go from here. So we do a little bit of a historical perspective, but I think the most beautiful part of this is I tell my clients stories so that people can see that a number one. Wow. That’s my story. You know, cause I everybody’s got something that happened, right. You know, an example is, the first clients I ever took to trial mom and dad took out a parent plus loan, one of the best for their children, right?

We’ve got generations willing to put their money on the line for one kid to go through college. Why do we have to do that much for one kid to get through college Right So mom and dad wants better for their kids. They put their kids through college. They buy out these student loans. They take out these parent plus loans. So they might, co-sign some private loans. And then what happens they’re not able to keep their jobs. They end up getting cancer, they get sick. They have mental health issues, you know, and all of those things come along. Life smacks you up the side of the head when you’re trying to pay back all this debt. And so they just, it becomes an impossible task. The only problem with student loans, Katherine is it’s the only debt that is almost impossible, not completely, but almost impossible to discharge in a bankruptcy case. Wow. And so, you know it’s, okay. You can go to Vegas and gamble away your life, but don’t try to go to college and make your life better and then mess that up. Why, why did we set people up for such failure it’s a trap. It’s an absence.

And even to this cause as you’re talking, I’m picturing people that I know that have student debt, we all have debt. We’re paying it back. We’re deferring it. Whatever we’re doing, we’ve been to college. We have that. So I’m picturing different scenarios where one kid put the family in debt and was able to go to college. But then they decided not to. And the kid that really wanted to go to college, the parents said we don’t have money for you to go too bad. So now these kids grow up and there’s a risk between these siblings. You get what I mean so it’s not just that the family’s going into debt, you’re going into a divide. So you’re breaking down unnecessarily and yeah. There’s some success stories and people, you know, go to college and pay off their debt. And that’s wonderful. But for the other people, many people who have to, you know, juggle, they have to redistribute finances to make sure that they accommodate, being able to pay back this loan. That was what did you say 230%, over price. Yep. You know so it’s, it’s more than it is. Financial is huge, but the emotional tear that it does, because what does that say is one child more important than the other Because that’s all you have money for all. You have credit for a lot.

And what if you have three children How do you even,

Oh boy. Oh yeah. You got two siblings. Not against one.

Yeah. And you’re looking at an average $33,000 in tuition. You know what I was thinking about that when I’m writing this book back in 19, okay. Here we go. I’m old back in 1989 I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and $11,000 in student loans. Okay. But my income was such that it was not more than, you know, a small percentage of my income, at the time waiting on tables, you know, or finally getting to work in, you know, a management job, you know, at seven 50 an hour back then, you know, so, but I could afford to pay that back. Now you have children, graduates with over $30,000. Average is $33,000 in student loan debt. And we’re being we’re again, we’re in a pandemic scenario, Catherine. So people are not getting jobs. And so then they still have to pay the debt back. You’re not able to get a job. And the federal student loans will hunt you down until the day you die to collect on that debt because there’s no time limit for them to do it. Now, what do we do?

Now I don’t know if this is included in the book and I don’t know if you’re going to send me to go do homework, but what can we do at the local level where do we stop the bleeding because this is unfair. This seems like they’re getting away with a whole lot of stuff that even our other creditors don’t get it, you know, get the opportunity to just continue, you know, until forever to collect from us and then to overprice everything. That’s not fair. And it’s done out in the open.

Yeah. I think if, if someone today was considering going to college, I would say number one, tread carefully. Be very specific. I think it costs a lot of money when they change degrees in the middle of it. So there’s no change in your mind, pick a lane, get in it and go for it and be the best at that that you can possibly be. You got to keep your costs down, in terms of spending money for the education. And, and quite frankly, Katherine, I think it’s overpriced right now. If it’s a commodity or an asset, I’m going to say education is overpriced and underrated. I think you can get more out of YouTube University, which is not a true tool, just so you know. But I, listen, I have learned more cooking skills this year on YouTube. I’ve learned how to bed.

Oh yeah, girl. And I’ve been wrought iron. I can make design I mean, there’s all kinds of stuff now. And YouTube is phenomenal because people share their knowledge. You know, think it used to have wood shop in high school. We don’t have wood shop anymore. But then when we sent everybody home, there’s a bunch of kids that don’t have desks. So I just saw on the news the other day, it was on a, I think it was on David Mirror, world news tonight. He was talking about all these woodworkers who are coming out. These guys, the old guys are coming out, making desks for the kids that are stuck at home, that don’t have a desk and they’re giving the blueprints away on the internet and they’re teaching other people how to make these desks. It’s this grassroots, darling. We’re going old school on these people with the new school.

Technology love, I absolutely love the time travel. I was like, wow. I was telling somebody the other day, I said, boy, being a human is going to be a hot commodity soon. You better learn how to be nice to people because all people need right now is some kindness. So if you can do that.

That’s exactly right. And humans can do things that machines will never be able to do. And that’s the creative thinking. It’s those, you know, highly creative tasks and skills and problem solving. You know, the computers can only tell you, you know, options and things like that and so there’s things that computers can’t do but I think that’s where we’re going with that. Think about, you know, what’s going to be coming down the road. We’ve got to be able to shift on a dime and transfer and there’s a book out called change or die. I think that book is more important than ever now, because if people don’t change, if they do not adjust to the new world, order of wearing a mask, living in a pandemic, you know, the next one’s right around the corner. If we don’t learn our lessons now, right. You know, they start off with a small pebble and next thing you know, it’s a Boulder in your face. If you don’t listen and the universe has given us a wake-up call, we need to work on the climate. We need to treat people better. We need to bridge the gap to the income equality and be nice to people for crying out loud

Period! And you know, I used to argue with you, no, that’s not my situation. I’d never get myself in that situation, Right?

As I did, I said, they should pay their debts back because I did.

Right, Right. And then one day you find yourself in a similar situation or the exact same situation and you wish you had, so I try to live my life already, putting it forward to, you know, just in case that is Katherine in the future or Katherine, at any point, I would want somebody to stop and, you know, check on me. You know, if I’m stopped at the side of the road, you know, be safe yourself with check on me. Don’t just ride past me officer .Katherine, you know, whoever these different representations of me are that show up. So Katherine would financial debt. I want you to make sure that you pick up a copy of Christine’s book when it comes out, because while we’re talking about just the money, part of it, it’s an emotional burden to know that you have something that you could never get up, get out from under and there’s in this book. So what is something that they can look to is saying. Hey, okay, we’ve talked about the problem, but what might be an ideal solution

Well, I think one step they can, you know, everybody needs to take is number one you have to get into action. And I think action first of all, action kills fear. So if you’ve got fear and you’re afraid of this dragon, right, and it’s enormous, it’s, fire-breathing, it’s not going to go away and it’s staring you down. It’s you know, it’s wreaking havoc on your financial life because then the federal student loans, if you ignore them, they can intercept your tax refunds. They can garnish your wages. And I mean, they can make it really hurt. Right And so what you really need to do is get into action. I think, you know, one of the things that they need to do is figure out what are their options. Talk to professionals. You know, my office provides free consultations to people. There are attorneys that do this, work all over the country.

Then there’s not that many of us, but they’re out there. And if I can’t help them, because they’re not here in California, then I would refer them to one of my colleagues who can, I think the second thing too, Katherine speaking about going back to grassroots and answering your prior question. What are the things people can do I think people need to advocate. I think what we’ve got in this last election, where the most voters that we’ve ever gotten to go to the polls, here’s my request. America, keep it up, keep doing it back to the polls book for your local government, pay attention to who’s in your local offices and pay attention as to whether or not they’re going to be advocating for that, that mission that you’re on the road that you’re trying to get to. You know, you want someone to get rid of your student loans.

Then we need to put people up in Congress that, are going to make that happen. We need to advocate for that. We need to scream louder. Black lives matter. Absolutely! They matter. And we need to make it matter all the way down to the pocket book, because I think that’s the part where it hurts. Right We put everybody in jail. We make everybody stay in debt. And just think about it as a trap. This whole system is designed to keep you in debt for a reason. You would not work at that minimum wage job if you, were not needing to make money to live.

Right and it feels.

Do we do it without that? How do we get off that grid Right? You know, I think a lot of people are turned into tiny home living. People are looking at maybe going to homestead properties. Great, do it. Let’s do that.

People doing band life! Yeah. So, I mean, they’re making it. Yeah. So getting creative, but you have to be open to it. It may not be what you pictured back then, but you can evolve in what the vision is because you didn’t know that much back then. And Christine, I want to thank you so much cause I didn’t know when I went to school that it wasn’t going to be the solution, but it’s definitely a tool for the journey. It’s not the, it’s not the end all and be all there’s more work to do because going to school to become an educator or an English major, then you have to go practice it. You don’t major it the day they give you your degree. So,

Exactly! And I’m seeing a lot of students, Katherine. I’m seeing a lot of people. Here’s the other problem that I was thinking about to think about the hospitals right now and your healthcare workers. Okay. Let’s think about them for a moment because first of all, these guys don’t, they’d never signed up for this. They never signed up for a, a global pandemic that they’re risking their own lives. They’re having post-traumatic stress disorder, they’re catching COVID themselves and going to work with COVID because they’re already exposed and working in COVID units. They’re committing suicide because they’re stressed out. And if right now you can’t go to the hospital and get, you know? your elective surgery. Number one, number two, if you were in a car accident today, do you really want to go to the hospital I think not. But I think the point that I’m trying to make there is these people require a high level of education into, in order to take care of us. Okay. My thought is why do you, want and there’s people out there. So say, for example, I said, schools are overpriced but we need healthcare workers. Why are we not seeking the best talent, educating them for free and getting them to work When I go to the doctor, I don’t care if my doctor is rich, I care that my doctor is smart and I care that my doctor cares about me and I don’t want my doctor to be distracted by his damn student loans.

Right! Yeah. And he’s only practicing on me because they going to take something off the student loan for coming in, not really caring about this area, but can we get you to fill in, like, why don’t we, we don’t that’s in the movie.

Well, I think now we are missing. Yes, exactly. We’re missing the human potential here by forcing people to pay an extortion fee and extraordinarily high amount of money. I mean, for crying out loud, I met a dental graduate at a USC dental school, $800,000 in student loan debt for a dental degree at a UFC, is that the price people are willing to pay.

Well, you know what we are willing to pray, pray, play a high ticket price for notoriety. I think about the people that want to be coached in business. They really want to be the boss. They don’t really want to do the work sometimes. And so I said, well for that group of people, I’m gonna get little hats and jackets and name badges, and just put boss on it because that’s, that’s what they want to do. So I can charge a lot for the boss price, the, the boss packet, because they don’t really want to do anything over there. They just want to look the part. So looking the, having so much debt has become, I guess, a badge of honor, you know, I’ve taken on this much debt to get this much education. And I guess it gives you more bragging rights at a cocktail party that we’re not attending right now.

And when did that become a bragging Right How, how, how backwards are we How do we get here to where that’s a badge of honor?

I don’t know. I don’t know. It makes one group, if you decide to go to military and other person’s size to go to trade school, another person goes to a four-year university. So on and so on, the one is not better than the other. Each person has decided a different path to take and they don’t match. They don’t measure out the same, but we we’ve decided there’s a less than and greater than somehow. But this, this debt, I think even the people who are in this statistic of having debt, they may they may not even know that they’re drowning because they’re using it as notoriety.

Well, and that’s fine. And everybody gets to make their choices in life. But we have to think about it in terms of, where do we want to go and what kind of world does anybody want to live in Right so for those of you out there suffering right now and your student loans, and you’re thinking that there’s no end in sight, it’s barreling down on you. It’s putting an enormous amount of pressure. You’re depressed. You’re, you’re, you’re sad. You’re in quarantine and you got nobody to talk to you. You haven’t hugged anybody since March. I got it you know, then, then let’s, let’s under that pressure cooker, the gold, you know, the only way we get to gold Kathryn is we have to smelt off the, or we get rid of the bad stuff. We have to turn up the heat and that’s exactly what’s happening.

And then you’re going to find an answer if you just wait for it and you have that, that, that’s how we make diamonds, put them up under nuts pressure. And, and then you get a diamond for gold. You have to smell it off, all that iron ore. And then you get to the gold, right the cream rises to the top and all those metaphors and that’s really the, you know, that’s where your answers are gonna come and people have to think about what kind of world do you want to live in Well, you need to advocate for that world. You want equality, then fight for equality and don’t stop until we get it. You’ve got to go to vote. You got to take action. You have to step into, you know, being responsible as an American citizen. Like in the beginning, they made us all build the roads ourselves, you know, but again, it was a load of crap. They told everybody coming over on Ellis Island. You know the streets are paved with gold. They said, you know, but instead when you get here, there are no streets and you have to build them yourself, same thing with education and anything that you want in life. You’ve got to work for it. but I think that we’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do before we can get to that, you know, global ideal, you know, vision that apparently I want to live in.

I hope there’s, other people.

That they want, to join me.

I’m going to be right there with you. What are we going to do again, to wrap up right here Because you know, you and I can continue talking, but I want you to let people know how to get in touch with you outside of this needs to be said,

Thank you, Katherine. My name is Christine Kingston. My website is Surf City Lawyers.com. I’m in Huntington Beach, California, and I am a licensed attorney in the state of California and I handle a chapter seven chapter 13 bankruptcy. You can give us a call at (714) 533-9210.

All right, until next time have a super day.

Katherine it’s been a pleasure. Good to talk to you always. Thank you.

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