I Need An Education Bailout Plan A few months ago, teenager Taylor Riddle was at the top of his game as one of the youngest delegates at the Democratic National Convention. Now, he finds himself caught unexpectedly in the middle of the nation's economic crisis.
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I Need An Education Bailout Plan

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I Need An Education Bailout Plan

I Need An Education Bailout Plan

I Need An Education Bailout Plan

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Taylor Riddle says he'd like to see a bailout package for higher education. Ayesha Walker for NPR hide caption

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Ayesha Walker for NPR

Taylor Riddle says he'd like to see a bailout package for higher education.

Ayesha Walker for NPR

Let me cut to the chase: I may have to drop out of college, because $2,000 is standing between me and my education. I never expected to face this dilemma. The credit freeze that everyone keeps talking about could freeze me out of finishing my freshman year at the University of Arkansas.

Like a lot of young Americans, I'm using federal loans to pay for the bulk of my college expenses. But I still owe $7,000 for the rest of the school year. My family doesn't have that kind of money.

My parents are very middle class. My mom works as a respiratory therapist and is currently in between jobs. My dad is a golf pro, but not the Tiger Woods kind — the kind that works at a golf course and makes $50,000 to $60,000 a year.

My parents can't afford to pay for any of my education out-of-pocket, so my plan was to get a bank loan. But that plan fell through when the economic crisis hit.

With banks so nervous about lending, it's students like me who aren't making the cut. And we don't have time for the credit markets to thaw. I only have a matter of weeks to settle what I owe the university by the end of this semester — $2,000.

I've hit a fork in the road.

I either have to drop out of college and go back home to save money, or ask friends and neighbors for loans to keep me in school. It's completely humiliating to know I have no control over my future.

I'm not alone. The economy has become a big conversation in my dorm. I know kids who are leaving at the end of this semester, and others who may have to leave at the end of the year. Some can't get bank loans, and some just can't afford the day-to-day expenses. A lot of students' cars haven't moved because they can't afford to pay for gas, even with gas being as low as $1.79 a gallon here.

Everyone's talking about the bailout for Wall Street and a possible bailout for auto companies, but I'd like to see a bailout package for higher education — for people like me, an average student from an average town, Jonesboro, Ark. The country wants young people to be able to compete in this global economy, but the U.S. can't produce a large pool of college graduates if many of us have to drop out.

This essay was produced by Youth Radio.