Audience Tells Stories Of College Debt

Listeners respond to recent Tell Me More stories about how some are rethinking their college dreams due to the economic recession. Also, listener Katie tells of her struggle with an eating disorder, following the program's discussion with author Stephanie Covington Armstrong, who wrote Not All Black Girls Know How To Eat. Plus, a listener offers well wishes for host Michel Martin.

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ALLISON KEYES, host:

I'm Allison Keyes and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away.

Coming up, are unmarried black women putting aside the idea of family for the sake of their careers? We talk about why some black women have yet to find Mr. Right. Yeah, Lee, I mean you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KEYES: But first, it's time for Back Talk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy is here. What's up Lee?

LEE HILL: Hey, there. Well, this week we discussed how a shaky economy has some rethinking their college dreams. Allison, we talked about how some high school graduates are deciding to skip or delay college. And also, how some college graduates are going back to school for graduate degrees after facing a bleak job market. Now after our story aired, we heard from a lot of listeners, who told us they could relate to both of these predicaments, including Elizabeth. She had this to say.

ELIZABETH: I'm a recent graduate and I have now gone onto graduate school, not just because I want to advance myself in my career but also to (unintelligible) my student loan and try to figure out how I'm going to find a job when I get out of school to provide some type of sustenance for me, as well as paying off my loan.

KEYES: Okay, Elizabeth. Good luck with that. Lee, speaking of colleges, President Obama recently signed a proclamation honoring historically black colleges or HBCUs. And on Wednesday, we talked about the mission of these institutions and how many of them are facing financial hardships. But one listener who blogs under the name Lee, that's not secretly you, is it?

HILL: Not quite.

KEYES: Just saying.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KEYES: Has mixed feelings about the president's commitment to HBCUs.

LEE: Didn't the Obama administration cut funding to HBCUs earlier this year? HBCUs are not perfect, but they are fully committed to the mission of educating these students. While this proclamation is well-deserved, it seems to ring a little hollow without the appropriate financial support to back it up.

HILL: Well, thanks for that comment. But there are different perspectives on the Obama administration's financial support for HBCUs. The president did not actually cut general funding, but eliminated the extra $85 million that black institutions receive because of a 2007 change in student loan laws.

And, Allison, moving on, Monday we spoke with Stephanie Covington Armstrong, author of the book, "Not All Black Girls Know How To Eat." Armstrong talked to us about her struggle for years with bulimia.

KEYES: Actually, Lee, that prompted quite a few of our listeners to share their own stories with us. Here's Katie.

KATIE: I kind of come to realize that I struggled with eating disorder in the past, even now, I try to go in through a binging state, where I won't eat for a while, so I'm depressed. And, you know, as soon as, I had pass that depression, then I'll start eating again. And I mean, that is a - an eating disorder. I've never really considered that before.

HILL: Thanks, Katie. And, Allison, before we go, the million dollar question is where in the world is Michel Martin?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HILL: Here's a message we received from a caller.

Mr. BEN HOOKES(ph) (Caller): Hey, Michel. This is Ben Hookes calling. Lady, we missed you this past week. Your home girls are holding the (unintelligible) down, but just want to let you know that we miss you. I know that my days are just not the same without you in it. So, once gain, I'm praying that everything is all right and hope to hear you soon.

HILL: Thanks, Ben. I will give Michel your message. And thanks to everyone for the get-well wishes. Michel is very much alive, trust me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HILL: And they're getting better. We all miss her. And she will be back with us sometime next week.

KEYES: And thank you so much, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Allison.

KEYES: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. Tell us more. You can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our new Web site, where you can read more from fellow listeners and enjoy a simpler social networking experience. Go to npr.org, click on programs and then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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