I’m Like the Wayne Gretzky of Student Loans

Hello! I’m your graduate school student loan. I’m so happy to have helped you complete an MFA in Design at a prestigious northeastern university. I see you are now working part-time in the bluetooth speakers and headphones department at a Best Buy in Durham. I see also that we’re going on six consecutive years of voluntary deferment. As for me – look how much I’ve grown! I totaled $61,404.31 when you graduated, but thanks to accumulated interest, am all the way up to $93,766.67 today. Don’t look now (really, you shouldn’t), but I’ll soon break the magical $100,000.00 barrier that all student loans aspire to. I just keep racking up the big numbers, year after year, just like NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky. I’m like the Wayne Gretzky of Student Loans.

Three years of sleeping until noon every day in New York City, attending two classes and one design studio a week, and drinking in a different East Village bar every night – wasn’t that fun? Totally worth the $1,797.56 you’ll have to pay every month for the next quarter of a century, in the event you finally decide to confront the reality of this looming financial catastrophe. Because the numbers just keep growing and growing, like Wayne Gretzky’s point totals when he skated on a line with Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson in the heyday of the Edmonton Oilers. Four straight Stanley Cups they won. Yowzers.

Do you know about the power of compounding interest? It’s how people who save and invest a relatively modest amount of money every year can retire as millionaires one day. Well, I’m like that, but in reverse. By repeatedly choosing deferment, you’ve turned a considerable but manageable student loan into a life-destroying fiscal leviathan.

When you were studying the works of Ray and Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, someone really should have taught you about compounding interest.

Did you know that just as Wayne Gretzky was coveted and bought by several NHL teams, different corporations keep buying me? First Wells Fargo, then Sallie Mae, and now Navient. Even if you never fully pay me back, the $178,056.77 (conservative estimate) outstanding at your death at age 61 (sorry, spoiler) can be claimed as an asset, which I’m told by the creatives in bookkeeping is just as important as wringing the money out of you.

Not that we aren’t going to try. You’re on your last deferment, friend. After that, we’re looking at collection agencies, wage garnishment, and credit rating annihilation – the ‘hat trick,’ if you will, of student loan collection.

Wayne Gretzky holds the all-time NHL record with fifty hat tricks. Nobody’s ever breaking that one.

Maybe you’re planning to pay me off in a lump sum of miraculously acquired money, perhaps an inheritance? Heads up, but there’s a reason you needed a loan in the first place. Your parents don’t have that kind of money, and they just took out a reverse mortgage.

But life’s not just about money; it’s about doing what you love. In Wayne Gretzky’s case, it was hockey. In your case, it’s design. Do what you love and the money will follow, they say. It’s kind of too bad you didn’t love playing professional hockey. Those guys are loaded.

It seems like only yesterday we started this journey together. I want you to know that I’m never giving up on you. Never. No matter what, I’ll always be right there with you, to the very, very end.

Good luck, friend.


Navient account #AO338766

Justin Bryant: Recent short fiction has appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Modern Literature, VLAK Magazine, and others. I live in Raleigh, NC with my partner Sarah and our dogs Roxy and Bryce. 

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