Harry Potter And The Curse Of The Student Loans
I had some vague idea that Hogwarts was expensive. But no one told me that when I graduated I would owe an amount equivalent to roughly 300,000 butterbeers. When I first embarked upon my wizarding degree, I had zero savings of my own and no one to co-sign my loans, so I took out a private loan on the recommendation of a “friend” who later turned out to be a Death Eater (long story). Anyway, after 10 years of fighting for my life, rescuing classmates and mentors alike, blah blah blah, my interest rate was the last thing on my mind. Frankly, by my final year I assumed I could just Expelliarmus any extra debt that had accumulated.
Little did I know someone had put a Cascading Jinx on those loans. So I decided to defer them for a couple of years while I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life—turns out that the only professorships they give out these days are adjunct, even at Hogwarts. I slipped on a few payments, and now I owe 60,000 Galleons more than when I started. I’m getting Howlers every second from the Ministry of Credit. I can’t walk out my door without being accosted by a fucking owl!
Looking back, I wish someone had told me how all this worked. I was only 10 years old! I didn’t know what the hell “APR” stood for. And nobody told me how little people actually make from a degree in wizarding. Now that I’m out in the “real world,” so to speak, I’m finding it hard to snag even the most entry-level salary. Believe it or not, skills like “vanquishing” and “snitch-grabbing” don’t exactly translate. I finally got a position as a sandwich artist at a new shop called Blood ‘n’ Beans. (Rumor is, I only got the gig because I could Accio roasted tomatoes faster than everyone else.) I can barely pay off the interest on my loan, let alone touch the principle.
Even if I do find a job in magic, my degree is practically obsolete already because the technology moves so fast. I don’t know how do any of the latest defensive charms, and now that the damn Marauder’s Map went digital, everyone knows where I am all of the time.
The way I see it, no one deserves to be punished for trying to better themselves with an education, or for not totally grasping how loans work. So I took a few semesters off to go look for Horcruxes—so what? I obviously wasn’t thinking about the interest piling up when I was out literally saving the world. Sometimes I find myself nostalgically diving into the old Pensieve, reliving that first moment I signed on the dotted line. If only I had known then what taking on that debt load really meant. After seven years of school, no matter how many half-corporeal energetic animal spirit guardians I produce from my wand, I still owe someone money. I’m a debtor now, not a hero.
I guess I should have known that a school with the ability to disguise itself from authorities and send students across the space-time continuum couldn’t be trusted to clearly outline its student loan terms. Worse, when I called to see if I could consolidate, the loan company would only speak to me in Parseltongue. (Never a good sign.)
I’m barely able to make any payments now, but when I do, I have zero cash left for anything besides the rent on my studio chamber and the occasional Chocolate Frog to lift my spirits. God forbid I need emergency medical care. If some new physical manifestation of Voldemort comes after me next month and I have to fly my now outdated broom to the infirmary again, I’m screwed.
I suppose it’s not all doom and gloom, though. When I go out, sometimes I throw on the old Invisibility Cloak, which at least helps me avoid the owls. And I’ve managed to piece together a side gig doing magic for children’s birthday parties. Also, YouTube videos of me testing Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans have started to pay small dividends. Subscribe to my channel! I could use the ad revenue.
As for you, I advise you to pay close attention to my tale of woe. If you still think you’d like to pursue a degree in wizarding, consider a state school. Or maybe the University of Phoenix Feathers? Sure, it’s online-only, and nearly as pricey as Hogwarts, but Snape told me they’ve got a pretty good postgrad job program.
Update: This article originally appeared on June 10, 2016. Art by Emily Haasch
Update: This article originally appeared on June 10, 2016.
Art by Emily Haasch