Black Welfare Queen, PhD?

by Stacia L. Brown

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a must-read profile on the growing demographic of terminal academic-degree holders who are finding themselves applying for public assistance, due to job scarcity and low wages. Much of the piece focuses on white men and women, with the angle that this trend is particularly surprising and/or mortifying for them because, as one semi-anonymous source, “Lynn,” asserts:

“People don’t expect that white people need assistance. It’s a prevalent attitude. Applying for food stamps is even worse if you’re white and need help.” “My household went from one to three. My income was not enough, and so I had to apply for assistance,” she says. She now receives food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, and child-care assistance.

“My name is Kisha. You hear that name and you think black girl, big hoop earrings, on welfare, three or four babies’ daddies,” she says. “I had to work against my color, my flesh, and my name alone. I went to school to get all these degrees to prove to the rest of the world that I’m not lazy and I’m not on welfare. But there I was and I asked myself, ‘What’s the point? I’m here anyway.’”

I can personally attest to the difficulties adjunct professors face in trying to support themselves, post-education. When I decided on this career track, it was with a dreamy eye toward the prestige of being called “Professor,” toward earning esteem in my chosen field, toward publishing and paneling and becoming a foremost authority, and toward eventually transitioning up, into the rarefied echelon of the black upper (middle) class.

But, like Kisha, who testifies that she had to work at three different colleges to make ends meet, even before becoming a mother, I was quickly disabused of those notions.

“Prestige” means little for adjuncts, who now make up around 70 percent of U.S. college faculty. Hiring is contingent on enrollment, is contracted to last only 3-4 months at a time, and is low wage, compared to the salaries of full-time faculty (whose positions tend to be insular and designed for employees to “age out” of them or to willingly retire, rather than to ever be fired. Hence, the job scarcity).

The fact is: without retaining work at multiple schools and maintaining contracts with those schools from semester to semester, the likelihood of a salary that remains above the poverty line each year can be rather slim.

In terms of stigma, however, it’s dangerous to insist that one demographic’s reliance on public assistance is “more shameful” than the next’s. It’s all pretty humiliating. For everyone. In the end, the undereducated and the over-educated–of all racial groups–have to stand in the same line. They all have to endure the scrutiny and criticism of strangers who will label them as part of any trope they wish–be it poor white trash or black welfare queen–without any context.

But, if the end, if you’re still preoccupied with public perception, when your education and employment are failing to meet the most basic of human needs like food and shelter, you’re really worried about the wrong things.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    I’m going to be honest. When I was in my early 20′s I came to see that single people in this country are getting screwed and it’s mainly due to the TAX STRUCTURE and Welfare laws in this country.

    If you’re single, childless and working you’re getting screwed.

    If you’re a welfare case the red carpet is rolled out for you in so many ways.

    When I was graduated from college I was working a job making about 35k a year. Because I didn’t have any dependents or tax exemptions I was getting taxed out the arse. Add onto that my 401k payments, health insurance (which sucks even if you got), dental insurance, vision insurance, rent (with water/sewer), car note, student loans, phone bill, internet/cable, gas for the car, and groceries….I was damn near broke. Most of my money was either going to the government or bills.

    Then I figured out how to cheat/work the system…

    I started a business. Bought real estate (a tax shelter…thank you Jesus). Learned to save/invest/manage my own 401k etc. Things got better.

    But when I think about everything I went through to get to this point it upsets me sometimes.

    There is no incentive for “doing right” and staying off welfare.

    People on welfare get more benefits than single people trying to do things right (get an education, find a job, etc).

    The incentive is gone. It left when the jobs left this country.

    What is stopping Ms. PHD from collecting her welfare check now? Pride? Perhaps…but that’s probably the only thing.

  • Lady T


  • Queen

    OMG! Yessss! Preach! I’m 24 and I was dicussing this with my mother the other day.. It’s ridiculous how the system is set up. And thanks for the tips Toppin! I will def. be looking into ways I can invest and save my money into something besides just a savings account. :)

  • Stacia L. Brown

    “People on welfare get more benefits than single people trying to do things right (get an education, find a job, etc).”

    The professors this article profiles who are in need of public assistance have done all the things you’ve identified as “doing things right.” They’ve gotten an education, found jobs, and are currently employed. But because of their low wages and the unpredictable nature of their employment, they cannot can’t support themselves. They aren’t cheating the system in order to qualify for (or need) public assistance. Their actual income at their jobs is qualifying them for it.

  • Lady T

    I have always felt that way but quietly because I did not want to make my cousins, co-workers and friends feel bad. Watching the news and listening to the politicians today, it is only a matter of time for the welfare system to be cut. It is going to happen I think in the next several years. They are not building these prisons for no reason. I wish my sistas who are leaning on it would relize that America will be changing for the better, but for only those of us who are wise in our life choices.

  • Lady T

    @ Stacia Brown
    There are jobs that would gladly hire them but are these PHd graduates willing to take them? I have a family member who has a PHd but is extremely selective about her jobs. In this environment, no one has too many options. But I have to ask, why did they persue a doctoral degree where there are no jobs?

  • lovelygirl

    I attended community college before transferring to a University. While at community college I worked as a flight attendant. I lost my job due to 9/11. I got unemployment. I was a single, childless non property owner and like you said, ”Screwed.” When I decided to apply for financial aid at that time (community college was not as expensive as University and until I was laid off I paid for college myself) the first question the financial aid officer asked me was if I had children. I said, ”No.” She informed me that I didnt qualify. I didnt have to fill out one document. She simply told me that if I wasnt getting assistance from the govt then I couldnt get fin aid. Next day while in the common area I overheard a group of welfare mothers exchanging notes on how to cheat the govt, cheat fin aid and use the money for clothes, cable, etc.

  • LemonnLime

    “But, like Kisha, who testifies that she had to work at three different colleges to make ends meet, even before becoming a mother, I was quickly disabused of those notions.”

    How can you have all these degrees and still be this dumb? Doesn’t common sense dictates if you are having problems feeding yourself MAYBE you shouldn’t have kids? Seriously people are so selfish. As one of those educated, working, singles without kids Toppin is right, there is no incentive for doing things the right way. They just take and take and take and give it to others. So now my taxes can go to pay for high school dropout, PhDs ( btw if you are paying for a phd in this economy you are crazy unless it is in engineering or computers you will never make that money back and if it is in liberal arts I’m sorry you’re just dumb), and all their kids… great.

  • Stacia L. Brown

    While I’ll agree that some PhDs believe their years of education and experience mean they shouldn’t have to settle for work for which they’re overqualified, there are also PhDs who cannot find work in fields for which they’re overqualified–for precisely that reason. They’d command more pay than someone with fewer qualifications/years of experience and be deemed a less viable candidate because employers would rightly believe that they do not intend to stay (as soon as something opens up in a field more closely related to their own, they’ll leave to pursue it).

    As for why people get PhDs “where there are no jobs,” prospects change. Some PhDs take six or more years to attain and during that time, the winds of opportunity shift. Further, not all PhDs believe they’ll be limited to teaching work; their degrees can be applied to other types of positions. And they have no way of knowing ahead of time whether or not they’ll be able to find work outside of academia (just like most people in college aren’t as confident as they used to be that degree-related employment awaits them after graduation).

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    @Stacia L. Brown

    Read my ENTIRE comment again…this time in CONTEXT because I don’t think you understood my point which was there is NO INCENTIVE to “do things right.” These Ph.D. graduates are proof of that…

  • Stacia L. Brown

    I’ve always found it incredibly difficult to have any kind of nuanced conversation about “welfare” with people who’ve never needed assistance. It always devolves into blanket assessments, name-calling, poverty-shaming, and reinforcement of stereotypes about “welfare moms” who exchange tips about how to defraud the government–all of whom just happen to be within earshot of the anti-assistance proponent.


  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    Damn shame!

  • Sasha

    I’ve only been paying taxes since 2010 when I graduated from college but in that short time I have come to absolutely hate the idea of welfare/ government assistance. Like Toppin said and you backed up, there is absolutely no incentive to do it right because if you do you just end up getting the royal screw job. I look at my paycheck and see how much gets taken out for social security, Medicaid and other services I don’t even use and it pisses me off to no end. I know there’s no “right” time to have a kid but if there’s a wrong time it certainly was during the time when Kisha found herself in the position she did. I am of the understanding that people aren’t balling off of welfare but those same people often have to pay little to no rent so that check they’re receiving based off of doing 0 amount of work is ridiculous. Its truly frustrating to say the least.

  • Sasha

    That is so sad.

  • Stacia L. Brown

    If your definition of doing things the right way is getting an educating and getting a job, how are they proof of *not* doing things the right way? Because they have children? Even the married ones? (Because not all of the people in this article on this subject are single mothers.)

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    @Stacia L. Brown

    Let me see if I can make this plain…

    These women DID things the right way and STILL got screwed….which is why there is no longer an incentive to DO things the right way. Get it?

    In your effort to read more than is written you keep reading incorrectly.

    I don’t have a problem with these women….I have a problem with the way this phucked up country is going.

  • Yb


    It’s the same situation. Privileged people tell unprivileged people how to live their life and handle situations that affect the marginalized group. White/Black, Man/Woman, Rich/Poor, Straight/Gay, Ablebodied/Disabled. It gets tiring arguing with them and their straw mans that materialise from thin air.

  • lovelygirl

    @ Sasha. I have two family members who work for the welfare dept and they made it clear that those on welfare (mainly the generational welfare abusers) do not live a decent life. The money is so minimal that it’s impossible to eke a manageable living. For a socialogy course, my research showed that the average welfare recipient is on welfare for an average of 2 years and most wouldnt qualify in they received child support. I researched this 10 years ago. Im sure things have changed. From my standpoint, the abusers have made it hard for those who are genuine and truly do see it as a temporary financial means.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)


    “Privileged people tell unprivileged people how to live their life and handle situations that affect the marginalized group.”

    Arguably unprivileged people lose their autonomy when they look to those so-called privileged people to support them! The welfare state comes with a price…as it should.

    I am anti-assistance because I hated the way my check looked after working 40 plus hours a week for someone else. I am FOR tax reform.

    While I do sympathize with these women and while I no longer see any incentive to do things “the right way” it will be a cold day in hell before I support welfare in this country. I worked hard for mine…I’m not down for supporting someone else.

    You chicks better learn how to LEGALLY hustle like I did!

  • Yb


    1. I’m not on Welfare. I’m in college. Pay for my class classes without the use of financial aid nor student loans, with my own money. I work and own my own car.

    2. I stand by what I said and will not go back and forth arguing with you.

    You have a great day.

  • Keli

    Professors make their money through speaking engagements and being published authors. Adjunct professors typically work outside of education and maybe teach Part-time in their areas of specialty. I am completing my MA in Dec, and the program chair wants me to apply for the PhD. program… my response, I am not interested in academia, I’m interested in building knowledge to help create additional streams of income. I wonder how many that want the prestige of being called “doctor” or “professor” do their research regarding the average salary of professors. Especially if they’re working for public institutions, that information is typically public record.

    I struggled during undergrad, and my pride kept me from reaching out to anyone for help… I would rather go without. So I understand the woman not wanting to be stigmatized… also, once you put in so my work to better yourself, it almost seems as admitting defeat. Yet when I was going through my storm… I worked 2 to 3 jobs at all times. I didn’t let the fact I had a BBA from one of the top business schools stop me from taking a telemarketing job, or a sales clerk job at the mall. I never operated with the attitude that the work was beneath me. It was a great lesson in humility.

  • Anon

    Nah, some of us have either had or seen family go through hard times before, we just didn’t have kids to “qualify” for assistance.

    Toppin’, we are —–> <——- HERE on this. "Arguably unprivileged people lose their autonomy when they look to those so-called privileged people to support them! The welfare state comes with a price…as it should."

    Assistance generally comes with strings attached, and that's even including family, much less a fellow citizen of the state.

  • CurlySue

    I wish more women would seriously consider the pros vs cons of pursuing a PhD. Are you getting your PhD in a lucrative field? i.e. Engineering, some type of applicable science, etc. Will you be able to pay off the ridiculous student loans you’ve likely amassed? Is it really worth getting your PhD. In that I mean, will getting your PhD promise you significantly higher salary compared to your student loan debt? Education is great. But there is such a thing as over-educated. Especially when it’s perhaps not in a lucrative field and isn’t offsetting the debt you’ve acrued achieving it.

  • Tampicotg

    Respectfully she was completely incorrect. If you community college was regionally accredited you qualified for financial aid, she probably did not want to do the paperwork! FYI: Financial aid can be used for just about anything so how they chose to spend it was on them. As long as they’re attending courses and passing at least 75% of them they can continue to receive financial aid. There’s no way to really cheat financial aid….

  • Stacia L. Brown

    Ah! I did misunderstand you there. I apologize.

  • Ms. Information

    AMEN! #singlechildlessandscrewedbytheirseverymonth

  • The Taker

    Dude that is bogus. Because of you’re financial/job situation, you should have been approved for FA. I’m sorry about that. You think folks would be understanding of people’s situation.

  • JessicaMercedes

    I was working a full time job getting paid $10 (before taxes) and I was also attending community college on a full time schedule. I have two children. Its hard to imagine a single, childless person making it work on $10 an hour, now just imagine a single mother of 2 trying to make it work. I applied for welfare trying to get assistance to pay for food, child care, and to get Medicaid. How about they denied me for all three, quoting that I earned too much. I was like, WTF? Then I see these girls on section 8 (in really nice townhouses and freshly built homes), free daycare, free after care, free summer camp, 2 shopping carts full of groceries, cash assistance, WIC, a free bus pass (which they sell to pay for gas for their cars), and I can go on. And of course they’re wearing a $200 hair style, a $40 manicure, and the latest Jeffery Campbell’s. And, no, I am not exaggerating. So even though am not single and childless, I completely understand your frustration. I do find myself thinking, “What’s the point?” sometimes, but I still can’t imagine myself being a welfare queen.

  • The Taker

    I so agree with you. These people know absolutely NOTHING. I know folks who were on welfare (i.e, mom, aunt, a family friend) and they would NEVER abuse the system. Took the money they got and did the best they freaking can to provide for their families. They were/are hard-working and busting their butts trying to make ends meet and that’s with the help of P.A. I never heard nor seen of this “Ballin’ out of Control” with people on welfare. Maybe in some cases, some folks do that but in most cases, a lot of them don’t. Oh and for all these snooty, snobby people’s information, welfare checks are also taxed. HA!!! We are all paying taxes, so please do away with the “My money is going to all the po’ folks”. Everybody is paying the one and only man, Uncle Sam. NOBODY in this country gets away without paying taxes from the haves to the have-nots, I don’t give damn what you saw nor heard.

  • Ms. Information

    The Taker….you are wrong…I was a case manager for several years and welfare checks are not taxed…..while I know and met many good women using it for help…I met many MORE taking advantage of it……….having more kids, knowing that it would increase their food stamps and welfare amount…every one is not honorable like your aunts et cetera….I had to stop doing that job after I met a 29 year old with 9 kids…her foodstamp amount was $1000 a month…while I could barely eat as a college graduate with no kids.

  • The Taker

    AGREES 100000%. I honestly believe and fell that people are only doing this bragging rights. I mean seriously do you really need a PhD in Humanities.

  • Chic Noir

    Many of adjuncts make as much or less than a kid with a high-school diploma who works as a manager at Burger King? So we have a growing population of people making beer wages with Champagne degrees.

    Well this won’t look good in the long term. We need to have a student loan forgiveness program ASAP.

    We should require that colleges and universities have to show where every dollar is spent. You have schools putting up new buildings where maybe a handful of classes are held, pretty much wasting money. Yet every year they want to increase tuition, I’m telling you it’s a load of BS.

    Colleges are playing a case of keeping up with the Jones.

  • The Taker

    My mom’s check was taxed. I have no idea why, but hers was taxed. She’s off it now though. And that’s really horrible. One thing about welfare that I learned was it’s not a lifelong situation where you have no job and random ass people around the country are paying for your livelihood. They send your butt out there to work. They help you look and prepare for jobs. They set up work-training programs that recipients MUST attend when THEY tell you to attend. You don’t go, they cut you off point blank. Welfare typically gives people a time limit. And like I said during that, best to believe you better be doing something productive ( getting off welfare).

  • Chic Noir


    I refuse to live in a small town or some place where public transportation sucks. Cars are like vampire squid, behind your housing costs, they are biggest expenditure for most people. What really sucks is cars depreciated in value so after a few years, you don’t have anything to show for it.

    Now add in payments(just go to the auction yall and save ya coins), insurance, parking, tolls, tickets, and gas… you’re talking about thousands of dollars per year.

    If you’re a welfare case the red carpet is rolled out for you in so many ways.

    No one lives on welfare, people survive on welfare!

  • Ms. Information

    That’s true, maybe states do it differently…Georgia doesn’t tax welfare checks…but the divide in my mind was (for the younger, hood chicks with the attitude) you have section 8 paying for houses in nice neighborhoods, free food, free healthcare, free transportation, utility assistance…they were living better than the workers…what is the motivation to get off of welfare when you are living better than the people administering it to you? I think that the type of woman on welfare has changed..I think our mothers honestly needed assistance, especially in the 70′s…now there is a sick sense of entitlement amongst these younger girls.

  • Chic Noir

    I forgot to add that I agree with your comment. I just think it’s best if more people try to avoid the expense of owning a car.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    “We need to have a student loan forgiveness program ASAP”

    I think not! When you take out a LOAN you agree to the terms of that loan. You are responsible for repaying that debt…job or no job.

    Our attention should be on the creation of JOBS and tax reform…not ridding people of their responsibility.

    And yes, I do know some people who LIVE off of welfare, foodstamps and section 8. And I mean they are living damn good. It is no longer a situation where they stick your arse in the projects. They set some of these single mothers up good. Almost every need is provided for thanks to the taxpayers.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    @Chic Noir

    Owning a car is almost unavoidable in MOST parts of this country. Public transportation will only get you so far in places like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, California etc. Not to mention it is a hassle within itself.

  • Ms. Information

    @ Toppin…pretty pretty please take my student loans…or I could just have a baby, get section 8, food stamps, medicaid and a check…and defer my loans for the rest of my life…lol

  • I got sense!

    Okay so I saw several things here but I want to highlight a couple of them.

    1. Doing the right things is fine and well but what I feel many people are missing is that you can’t do it alone whether man, woman, black or white. No one can make it on one income.

    2. Do these women have stable partners?

    3. Both women have children and this is where I no longer have any sympathy. STOP creating more bills (children) for yourself when you can even take care of yourself. That’s stupid as hell. Again, no matter your age, gender, creed, or color.

    4. Planing, planning, planning. At some point people need to do some research and stoop doing things just because you can or just because you want to.

    Learn to sacrifice, have a 5-10-15 plan with action objectives. READ!! Disconnect the cable and get a subscription to a magazine that is about investing, planning, and starting your own business. Plant a garden or get some pot to grow some of your own food. Dont have any kids when you can’t afford them. This is such a huge issue. You are making your
    life harder and it unnecessary. If you need assistance you need assistance but don’t abuse it. Have pride, standards, morals, and self respect. Work hard and earn it. It’s very possible.

  • entro

    Thank you for this article. Ive been telling people forever that the face of welfare has changed dramatically and the welfare queen was and is still a myth created by the right wing. You cannot get rich from welfare! people are lying about welfare recipients using their EBT cards to take trips to hawaii. LYE!! cannot happen, with the paultry amount of assistance that people are receiving as well as the restrictions on places you can use that card.
    My relative works for social sevices and there are so many people that go a long period of time without applying because of the shame put on people for needing HELP
    and they are not single mothers, teenage mothers and all the other stereotypes are out there but they are people like the one mentioned in the article, families that lost their homes before they were thrown out saved money normally used for their mortgage (Which were denied modification)to purchase a small motorhome so their children would have some shelter and they park it and move it from place to place.
    This is disgraceful that people would sand in judgement in situations they have no knowledge of and make others feel ashamed for needing help, even though they have paid or continue to pay into the system
    Hell yeah they should feel entitled because its their money they are asking to use!!
    Isnt entitlement being given something that is yours ????????

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    @Ms. Information

    Nothing in this world is free. Someone somewhere will PAY if student loans are “forgiven.” And we are talking BILLIONS of dollars. That ish in not going to happen.

    Taxpayers in this country are footing the bill for PELL…the vast majority of us are not down for paying off student loans that people signed agreements to repay.

  • Chic Noir

    So how many of you would like for the United States to adopt a system a more socialist system like that found in Scandinavia?

    Universal health care
    Free education up to the PhD level

  • Chic Noir

    Oh and the reason why things suck for so many people is because there is someone in another part of the world you is willing to do your job for half or maybe even a third of your pay.

    Now combine that with automation taking away jobs in manufacturing and even law and guess what we are screwed!

    So you get a job making less but your cost of living does not decrease. It’s much easier to live well on 30k in India than it is in the United States.

  • Chic Noir


    Well something needs to be done to rehad the student loan industry. It’s another mortgage industry. There should be limits placed on what students can borrow according to what sort of degree they are working towards.

    People who’ve borrowed 100k-200k in student loans working at Starbucks can no way in hell expect to pay that back. To get out that debt, they can do two things, runway or kill themselves.

  • Chic Noir

    I wish my sistas who are leaning on it would relize that America will be changing for the better, but for only those of us who are wise in our life choices

    More details please?

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    @Chic Noir

    So basically you’re asking someone/something (the government) to police students, who should KNOW not to take out six figures in student loans???

    At what point are the STUDENTS responsible here???

    The government is not there to force you to make responsible choices about YOUR life and future.

    If you (in general) went to a liberal arts school, got a liberal arts education and paid six figures for it you SHOULD kill yourself. That is nobody’s responsibility but yours.

    I hated paying back my student loans too, but I DID it. Nothing in this world is free. Just remember that…

  • entro

    If after 25+ years of working my butt off and paying into this system, If ever I need help because of illness or hardship or whatever unforseen circumstance . Im going head high into my local office and applying for assistance because I am ENTITLED
    There is so many negative connotations given to that word and its kept people ignorant and ashamed of Entitlement programs like Social Security and MediCare and unemployment,they are called entiltlements because everyone whose paid into it are ENTITLED to it. The reason that these programs are being demonized is a greater political motivation, that is to privatize them (The effects of this is too much to get into)
    Some of the judgemental and ill informed comments on this board are shameful

  • Chic Noir


    Is a teenager really responsible enough to take out a six figure debt? Do teenagers understand how compound interest work? Do teenagers understand the responsibilities that come with managing debt even “good debt”?

    Of course not!

    Most adults struggle with money for God’s sake.

    Toppin, you need to have some empathy.

  • Chic Noir

    I got sense Plant a garden or get some pot to grow some of your own food

    How is the weather in Cali?

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    @Chic Noir

    This is the REAL WORLD…and in the real world nobody cares how YOU got into YOUR debt…we just know we are not going to be paying back YOUR debt.

    That teenager more than likely had to get someone to co-sign on a loan with him/her. If he/she cannot repay said loan it then falls on that co-signer. If that co-signer cannot repay the loan then it goes to collections and it’s probably taken out of your wages/income tax check by force (I think this depends on the type of loan).

    The moral of this story: Don’t borrow what you don’t think you can pay back.

  • Chic Noir

    toppin That teenager more than likely had to get someone to co-sign on a loan with him/her. If he/she cannot repay said loan it then falls on that co-signer.

    IIRC, for federal student loans, you don’t need a cosigner. I’m sure there are private student loans that allow 18 years to sign on the dotted line without a co-signer.

    The moral of this story: Don’t borrow what you don’t think you can pay back.

    Exactly but this would be only in an ideal world.

    Look what happened with the mortgage industry. Most people, sad to say, need someone looking out for them. There is a lot of greed and little empathy in this country.

  • H

    You are too right. People like to get PhDs in liberal arts fields. I have nothing against those fields, but it’s hard to get a job in some of those fields and hard to make a good living. People especially black people need to realize science and technology is where it’s at. It’s the field of tomorrow, so that gives job security, and you can get good pay with a bachelor’s degree.

  • Toppin

    @Chic Noir

    There IS a limit on how much students can borrow in Federal loans each year. That student makes a decision as to whether or not to take it.

    We live in democracy. If most people want someone to look out for them (i.e., big government/socialism/etc) I suggest they leave this country. Trust me…they will be back once they realize BIG BROTHER’S help comes with a huge price.

  • H

    I agree with Toppin somewhat. There are just too many silly people who seriously think a loan is free money. They take out huge loans to fund lavish lifestyles that they could never afford. There are too many kids get silly degrees at expensive liberal arts schools.

    But some change is needed. Student loan debt is higher than credit card debt. I think that they should lower the interest rate.

    We learn through our mistakes, and that’s a big one to make, but where are the parents? The government should make it a requirement for lenders to explain interest rates to these kids and tell them how long it will take to pay these loans off, tell them how much spending money they will lose each month with loan payments.

  • Toppin


    Okay clearly people are reaching now…

    “The government should make it a requirement for lenders to explain interest rates to these kids and tell them how long it will take to pay these loans off, tell them how much spending money they will lose each month with loan payments.”

    They DO this already. It is called ENTRY and EXIT loan interviews/counseling. These “kids” know what they are getting themselves into from the jump. Whether they pay attention to entry/exit counseling is a different story. My Freshman year of college I didn’t pay attention. However, by the time I reached my senior of college and went their the exit loan counseling my ears and eyes were WIDE awake. Why? Because the real world was beating down the door. I had to GROW UP and handle my business.

    I believe alot of people think someone is just going to come in and save their arse when they screw up. The government is not there to bail you out of debt. The taxpayers are not their to bail you out of debt. It is your responsibility to know your interest rate, know how long it will take to pay off your loans, know how to budget, save, etc. Stop outsourcing your responsibility as a borrower.

  • lady t

    @ Chic Noir
    When Europe collapses, all who is in debt which is mostly 99% of all the nations, will have to pay the piper. The nations who have programs that aide the poor will cut drastically and you will have people who will be completely without security. No home, no food, no medical assistance, no anything. If you are skilled, you will be able to maintain a living. If you have no crediable skills you will be getting the left overs, basically the few jobs no one want. This will create a precise division of class. I’m not trying to be mean but there will be the rich, the working middle class and the destitute. Why do you think the goverment is building more prisons. It will be survival of the fittest. It will not last a very long time but the supreme black race (true hebrews) will reunite and claim their land.

    sorry if you do not believe this or think I’m crazy

  • Chic Noir

    @lady T- So you’re a Hebrew Isralite, it’s cool :)

  • Chic Noir

    To buttress my point on why it’s dangerous to give young people too much money and credit at such an early age.

  • Chic Noir
  • Toppin

    @Chic Noir

    No one is giving it to them. They are getting LOANS. It is damn near impossible to pay for college in this day and age without LOANS. This “me” generation needs to take responsibility…just like every generation before them has had to do.

  • lady t

    @ chic noir

    you’re not?

  • Chic Noir


    Student loans are given out to almost anyone who wants one. Why do you think places like ITT tech and Devry are allowed to flourish.

    I firmly believe that teenagers(17 year olds) are rnot esponsible enough to make such a decision that will effect them for the rest of their lives. The part of the brain used in decision making isn’t fully developed by 18 years of age.

    The New York times did a very good in depth report about credit cards around the world. You see even in places where people are believed to have good future time orientation, people often find themselves deep in debt.

    Read about South Korea and credit card debt.

  • Chic Noir

    No, I’m not a Hebrew Isralite.

  • thinkpink

    @lovelygirl…you were lied to and that is completely incorrect. You should have been eligible for financial aid. I am single, childless, not married and my financial aid covered my community college costs in full and then some. Like a previous commenter said…she most likely did not want to fill out the paperwork. Financial aid is income based period and is a nearly impossible system to cheat.

  • Toppin

    @Chic Noir

    You and I will have to agree to disagree because no one is going to convenience me that someone who WILLINGLY signs a contract/agreement to repay a loan is a victim. These “kids” get advised before and after the fact. If they cannot pay it back that is their burden alone. I swear if any politician starts talking about forgiving loans I’m voting for the other guy.

  • bob

    I knew someone that was living decent off of wellfare and they live better than people that work a 9 to 5 busting there ass. It comes down to pride if you have to much pride like me to be on wellfare you will struggle. If you dont care and will take the money you need you will struggle less.

  • lady t

    @ chic noir
    what is your background?…….just curious

  • Insight

    You sound exactly like me except I didnt buy my own business. I have been working in commercial real estate since I graduated college (24 yrs old now).

    The only major increase that I have had is switching jobs. If anyone reads this article and wants to know the quickest way to get a pay increase, look for another job even if you dont want it.

    Last year I was promoted/transferred within my company (the promotion landed me an extra $6,000…. even though I know co-workers with the same exact position being paid more..yes I’m still bitter) then started talking to all of the assistants and realized I was being paid $10,000 LESS than the assistant (I was the youngest, but did not have the lowest position) and I was an accountant!!!! When I found this out I was furious, started applying to jobs in LA and landed one that pays $20,000 more than my last position. When I quit they offered me more money, but I didnt want to stay with a company that thought it was ok to mistreat their employees. Now I get paid more, and work for one of the best companies in LA.

    But it doesnt matter anyway, when most people look at me, they think I have a kid and am still in school. Or that I’m on welfare. Or that my boyfriend takes care of me (even though I make more).

  • Alexandra

    And that’s all I needed to hear. I agree with you too. Now I’m wondering if she feels her Ph.D is beneficial? Another thing that caused her financial issues were children. Sorry to say it, but why can’t people understand that children are costly? And that’s where my lack of sympathy.

  • Yeppers

    ehhhh. Education.. in this country.. a classic case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The people with all the wealth can afford to send there kids to ivy leagues debt free while the middle class get into more and more debt. Meanwhile Ivy league schools supply full scholarships/enrollment for international students to study here and then go back to their home country…….

  • Joshunda

    I’m glad you wrote this. I was taken aback by the headline and the story, and reluctant to read the Chronicle of Higher Education after the black studies fiasco. But as someone considering pursuing a career in academia, it’s definitely food for thought.

    And as an adjunct, I appreciate that you included the context of the low-wage/high labor that we endure. I guess it all depends on what area you intend to study, whether there’s funding or not and on and on. So many variables. Part of what makes it alarming is that academia used to be the go-to “secure” job, but now even tenured folks aren’t happy with what’s on the other side.

  • seventeen

    Yes, I find socialism appealing on many levels. I’m not sure why it gets such a bad rap.
    It’s not shameful for black women to receive welfare. It’s shameful that a dominate capitalist country won’t or can’t fairly provide for it’s citizens.

  • MurkyEarth

    Unfortunately welfare is a vicious cycle sort of thing: If you make 100 bucks too much on your pay check then you lose services like Medicaid and stamps and other benefits and so some might think that they might as well don’t work because working will take away benefits. My mom is disabled and needs dialysis and gets disability and social security (She had worked construction and at the post office for many years) and she makes 100 dollars too much in her monthly social security and so instead of getting the full benefits of medicaid, she has medicare which she was to make co payments of which she can’t afford on her social security and so my sister and I help more often than not.

    Welfare is good for people that need it but it makes it impossible to for some people to get off without terrible repercussions.

  • Rochelle

    Chic people like you make me sick. No responsiblity. It is like the whole housing crisis. People bought home and took out second mortgages without really knowing what they are doing(supposedly). All of a sudden they lose the house they put 0 down on. Pleazze no one to blame but themselves. I have a secret chuckle when they put the couple out on the street who just had to have the big house or updated condo. Same with this. WHEN THINGS HIT THE FAN YOU HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT YOURSELVES! I want all the broke people to go to your purse or wallet, take out your license and know the person in that picture is to blame for all your downfalls. Especially with debt!

  • Dreaming

    When I was working in banking, I had a coworker who wanted to go from being a 32-hour full-time to being part-time so that she could collect more government benefits. It kind of pissed me off because I saw it as her wanting to become more dependent on the system.

  • I got sense!

    LOL, sorry, typo. That was supposed to say

    Get some pots to grow the to grow some of your own food in.

  • I got sense!

    “I’ve always found it incredibly difficult to have any kind of nuanced conversation about “welfare” with people who’ve never needed assistance. It always devolves into blanket assessments, name-calling, poverty-shaming, and reinforcement of stereotypes about “welfare moms” who exchange tips about how to defraud the government–all of whom just happen to be within earshot of the anti-assistance proponent.


    Very interesting post but you are doing the EXACT same thing you are ridiculing someone else for doing. What constitutes a blanket statement. In the USA it’s all about percentages and majority. Whether welfare fraud is what is you are specifically speaking about or it’s simply the women who have a kid that they can’t take care of get welfare then CONTINUE to have kids and get more welfare it’s one in the same for me. Welfare was not designed to actually help people better their lives. Many understand this while many others don’t. In the current economic downturn many people who didn’t want to be on welfare had never been on them before or in a very long time had no choice. Obviously they are different than the generations of welfare recipients. I am by no means privileged but I would love if their was a welfare reform where you can’t get additional funds for having additional kids. Use welfare for its intended purposes not as a steady means of income for an extended period of time. The funny thing is you can call it stereotypes all you want but I received many unwarranted lessons on how to cheat the system. It’s sad. Especially for minorities.

  • LOLing

    @ Rochelle. Wow what a comment….I guess we’re the blame for the economy too.. too bad Bush decided to cut taxes for the rich…Hmmm. There at least should be some sort of cap on tuition the fact that my tuition went up from $13,000 to $23,000 in a 4 a year span is ridiculous… Or maybe the “broke people” shouldn’t go to college at all….

  • minna k.


    Lets not forget 5 weeks PAID vacation, maternal and paternal leave pay, a free nanny, cab money from a hospital, siesta (should I keep going?)

    Someone up thread offered the solution to the problem with pay by suggesting that we ALL get technology degrees. So what happens when all of those jobs become obsolete, automated and suddenly all of those tech professionals are on the unemployment line. The owners have their money so why should they pay people to do an okay job with the option of free labor?

    The bar on this issue moves constantly, and there are countless examples of how it has an effect on labor practices. People in their late 60′s are finding themselves looking for work in the service industries that their generation once looked to as inferior, temporary, for the 20 year old student, or reserved for the uneducated. Perhaps because of the same kind of stigma associated with “welfare queens” , that has resulted in little advocacy for the service industry when it came to laws around firing practices, health care, living wages, etc. Very few rights, minimizing perks along with ethics.

    Entitlement programs are necessary even for those who INSIST that they are smarter than the average bear, and project this stigma that is destroying that system. One does not know for sure what kinds of circumstances will bring one to the welfare offices of their state.

  • Stacia L. Brown

    What blanket statement am I making?

  • Stacia L. Brown

    There *are* a ton of variables and it definitely depends on the area you intend to study. I honestly don’t think that this pervasive the “sky is falling” attitude toward humanities should deter those who can receive a funded degree from pursuing one. Even if academia doesn’t pan out, you’d still have a doctorate you could apply to another field. You could start a nonprofit. You could go directly into public school administration.

    The key is to be adaptable/flexible about the kind of work you’re willing to pursue, post-doc. Some people who pursue PhDs are really married to the idea of staying the course of professorship–and it’s costing them.

  • purplekeychain


    I hate that folks have to qualify receiving assistance. Like “I got foodstamps, but I also went to school full time, worked 5 jobs, was a caregiver to my invalid 150 year old great-great-grandmother, raised 9 kids, and volunteered at a homeless shelter 6 days a week.”

    It reminds me of the arguments about Trayvon Martin and how, as a young black man, he had to be qualified as “unarmed” and “a good student” and “no criminal record” and on and on.

    If you need assistance, you need it. Period. What is a bank loan if not assistance — the money is secured by the government, which is funded by tax-payers, so really, it’s all of our money. What is police protection, EMS, firefighters, etc. if it’s not public assistance?

    Folk need to get off that BS about being “against” public assistance. Some people need a little extra help — so the f– what? There are always going to be people who abuse the system — look at the Bernie Ebbers’ and Bernie Madoffs’ of the world — but that doesn’t mean everyone who benefits from the system abuse it.


  • Kacey

    Stacia, I can understand what you are saying. For every welfare cheat there are probably many more people who are genuinely in need and trying to get off. However, those few welfare cheats we do encounter offer anecdotal evidence of a system in need of better oversight and repair.
    I’m not sure where you are from but in my NYC neighborhood I am constantly angered to see young girls redeeming WIC checks and using EBT cards while pushing babies in $1000 Bugaboo strollers. I have seen families where Welfare is generational and the recipients have no incentive to do better. I know young girls who recklessly have children they can not afford because they know they have a safety net to fall back on.
    I am a college graduate now pursuing a graduate degree. Before going back to grad school I worked for years and saw my paychecks reduced to support the above-described individuals. I’m still striving to do things the “right way” but trust me, when I see some of things I do it’s hard to not wonder why I even bother.

  • Kacey

    You hit the nail on the head!
    One of the individuals featured in the referenced article has a PhD in Medieval history. I mean, besides teaching, what in the world can you do with that? What company is going to hire you with that type of degree? I can just imagine some HR person reading that on a resume and laughing hysterically as she put it in the shredder. I think if you are going to incur the expense of higher education make sure it is in a field that offers lucrative employment prospects or offers skills that can be practically applied to other fields.

  • CurlySue

    Lol @ PhD in medieval history.

    “Can you build a pivot table using Excel?”

    “No, but I CAN go into detail about the medieval feudal system. So, there’s that”


  • lovelygirl

    city colleges of chicago, harold washington. I went to the financial aid office twice. Told the same thing twice. i never completed paperwork

  • isthatall

    @ Toppin

    Your ”problem” is that you expect people to take responsibilty for their actions. You expect people to stop playing dumb de dumb dumb and handle business. It’s 2012, today, we blame the govt, police, teachers, everyone else for our problems… We expect others to fix our mess. You, Toppin are soooo 1970s

  • Gell0h0h

    I can definitely relate to the last paragraph!

  • SisterSource

    Perhaps it is time to make some new rules. If these 2 women played by ‘the rules,’ and earned the pinultimate degree (suggesting that they are intelligent, resourceful, persistent, articulate (defending a dissertation is no joke), and other desirable skills for almost any job), then ‘the rules’ and the system that governs them is hopelessly broken.

    We (people of color, degreed folks, non-degreed folks, parents, sisters, brothers–ALL of us) who agree that ‘the rules’ are broken and NOT working for most folks, simply MUST engage in the political system that creates ‘the rules’ and CHANGE THEM. We have an opportunity every 2 years to change Congress and every 4 years to change who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but we often don’t vote. And after we vote, we have an OBLIGATION to make sure that the folks in Congress that WORK FOR US know what we expect them to do. Yes, the system is rigged so that big campaign contributors often get their attention first, but WE can have the last word.

  • momo

    mmm go onto fasfa website I because you really cant cheat the fa system i think you were getting misinformation. you should apply online 1st and then see what they say.

  • Chic Noir

    Religion, race or ethnicity?

  • Chic Noir


    When *beep* hits the fan, we all pay. So why not have government step in to avoid the out of control lending and betting that goes on.

    Have you not seen what is happening in Spain and Greece ??? Even people who were responsible with their money and borrowing are being hurt by the austerity measures. If we don’t get a handle on Student loans and the mortgage industry, we will be right there with them.

  • Chic Noir

    Avoid Law school folks, that’s another one that is getting people into a lot of debt.

  • Whatever

    Everyone crying about their taxes going to welfare recipients and people not being responsible with their loans need to STFU! Most of your tax money over the past decade has been supporting war! Not the welfare mom, not the college grads, not the home owners that went into foreclosure… War. Now if you would like to rant on and on about that fine.

    Let’s stop pretending that people are living well off of welfare. These people really do not receive that much. There are all types of people that fall on hard times and need assistance to get back on their feet. That’s what these programs are for. There are many people who got their degrees and expected a return on their investment through employment. When the economy collapsed and we fell into a recession, many had their expectations crushed. It’s not as simple as major in something more sensible. For many people I know when they began their freshman year everything seemed fine but once the end of senior year rolled around we were full swing into the recession. Many panicked and went back to school hoping a graduate degree would set them a part and make them more favorable to employers. If it were as simple as what we majored in then schools need to start cutting a lot of majors right now… why not get to the root of the problem? Why not be more realistic about post graduate employment and have colleges and universities only enroll students into majors by how many actual jobs will be readily available? Tuition is way to high for this f*cked up economy….with or without loans.

  • Chic Noir


    these ladies won’t hear what you have to say.

    They lack empathy plain and simple. The commenter complaining about paying Social Security and Medicare would probably have something different to say when she sees her grandma struggling to pay for her medicine or dying a slow painful death because she can’t afford to see her doctor.

  • Kam

    To be fair, the employment rate of PhDs are not known. In fact the very workings of the doctorate system are not well known outside of academia. For those from communities that don’t have a long history of being in academia (e.g. Black people) there are few ways to get this information. Unemployment in academia is hush hush and departments gladly open their arms to new students without telling the students what’s really up.

  • Rochelle

    LOL I hope you go to a state college and I that you researched that your college is the cheapest college in your state. There is no reason that a person has to leave the state to go to college or pick an expensive college. If they choose to be prepared to pay. It is nothing but the borrowers fault. Point blank. As far as banks an mortgages, i can give less than a damn when people default on a house they could not afford in the first place. Gives me an opportunity to buy the property and turn a profit. most people say they didn’t know what they were doing in 2005-2009 era of “lets buy a mcmansion.” Well Ill send them and their children a post card at the YMCA. this type of thinking about I deserve this and that is what got us into this mess in the first place. NO you don’t deserve to have a house, NO you don’t deserve to go to an overpriced school unless you can afford it. NO you don’t deserve your loan to be forgiven because you studied something stupid or you popped out a kid. I DON”T GIVE A DAMN. Own up and take responsiblity for your damn self. Tired of American entitlement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • edub

    And let’s not forget that these Scandinavian countries pay a tax rate of approximately 40% AND er’body pays taxes AND they have strict immigration policies which keep all resources for only citizens. We have too many non tax payers and illegal immigrants to have such programs in this country.

  • African Mami

    I so wish we had a welfare system back in the motherland, oh snap it can’t be so—> because 99.9% of the pippoz would be on welfare leaving 0.1% to fund it.

    *my post is random as hell, and I know it is not contributing to the INTENSE and FIIIIIIIERCE discussion up thurrrrrr*

    Ooooowiiii, TOPPIN, MARRY ME girlfriend!!! You articulation is too damn segggzay!

  • Whatever

    @Chic Noir,

    I totally agree. It’s a lack of empathy and also arrogance. It’s so easy to attack those that are already down which is why no one dares to bring up where our money is really going.

  • We’re doomed

    Look, I have 3 advanced degrees and am a full-time professor. In the humanities (gasp!). I’m still paying student loans along with my single-person taxes. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone.

    But I am curious – what kind of culture would we have with only scientists and engineers and no artists, no writers, no philosophers, no historians (medieval or otherwise–who do you think is responsible for researching, writing, and teaching black history? It isn’t engineers.) This kind of thinking isn’t logical or sustainable.

    The problem is what our culture values, not that everyone who invests in education doesn’t aspire to–or have–the same job. Perpetuating the notion that the only valid education is one that results in the highest income is ultimately destructive. And even if we could realistically pursue it, we’d be the worse for it.

  • Pat

    @Mrs. Info.. I too had worked for that division and you are right. These people do make more than those administering welfare. Its sick and sad. I too had to leave that division because what I saw and heard would get to me.

  • Pat

    Kacy +1.
    Ebt=food stamps, section 8=rent,cash assistance=money, social security,tanf, husky health care I can go on. All contingent opon how many in a household ,circumstances and income. One of the worst case was when I told a young girl to take the opportunity go to school and better herself. She declined,then turn around and cried about how she was struggling(no money from her b-daddy etc.) during the assessment. Smh.

  • Pat

    @Chic Noir thank you for sharing that link above. I have a younger cousin that will inherit money once she’s 18(she`s 16 now) from her folks. It made me think of her. I will make her read it. Ill talk to her folks about restrictions, as well as educating her about money. Again thank you.

  • Keke

    @Rochelle..There’s no such thing as a cheap college anymore (even in state)..Gone are those days. lol. Unless of course you chose to take up a trade.

    In all fairness something needs to be done about the state of education. It’s rather unfortunate higher education has become nothing more than a “Big business” vrying for hefy prices and bragging rights.

  • Krysie

    lol. And this is what they don’t tell you. Just because you have a PhD doesn’t necessarily mean you will bank in sufficient cash. Many professors (including adjunct) and teaching assistants are broker than ever! particularly those who specialize in the liberal arts (go figure!) so it is no surprise to me that this is happening!

    Lol. The purpose of a Phd in most jurisdictions is to teach and educate and we all know that teachers don’t make money!

    One of my former English professors makes less than $45,000 a year! That is less than my mother earns and she only has her G.E.D!

  • niksmit

    That whole lender/borrower thread above is ridiculous.
    If I have money and someone without an income asks me to borrow money, I’m not lending it to them because they have no means to repay me. This is not how our lenders have been deciding who to lend to in the U.S. That’s not smart business, if their business is built on being repaid with interest. So no, we don’t need to police borrowers, we need to police lenders.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    You people need to get a freakin clue. This is why the world is leaving black people behind. Some of you just don’t understand how BUSINESS works.

    Lenders, in the case of student loans, are loaning you money based on you paying it back LATER WHEN YOU GET A JOB AFTER YOU FINISH SCHOOL. On top of that you have SEVERAL deferment options with these loans. These are the ONLY loans that work that way. You CANNOT compare student loans to other types of loans. They are two very different beast.

    If they (lenders) denied students the opportunity to get loans based on money they haven’t yet earned MOST, if not ALL, students would be rejected.

    Student loans are built around this: I WILL PAY YOU BACK WHEN I GET A JOB AFTER I FINISH SCHOOL.


    STUDENTS agree to those conditions when they SIGN THE PROMISSORY NOTE.

    What is a promissory note?

    While students are in school, if they have FEDERAL LOANS, the GOVERNMENT pays the interest on those loans. Even if they have to defer their loans, in some cases, the GOVERNMENT will pay the interest on those loans.

    With that said, NO one needs to be policed here. Jobs simply need to be created.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    “If they (lenders) denied students the opportunity to get loans based on money they haven’t yet earned MOST, if not ALL, students would be rejected.”

    ^^Statement should read: If they (lenders) denied students the opportunity to get loans based on money they haven’t yet earned, OR don’t have, MOST, if not ALL, students would be rejected.

  • niksmit

    Look at me moving past your use of the phrase of “you people.”

    I know exactly how the system works. If you think it’s good business to lend money to people with questionable job prospects and no co-signer to tap for funds, then you have bigger issues than we can address in this forum. Lenders are supposed to assess their risks and approve loans accordingly. When they fail at this they should have to eat it. Instead they got legislation passed that make student loans the only type of debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. I find that highly problematic. Where’s their responsibility in choosing who they lend money to?

    You’ve actually led me to a better discussion though: why do so many students NEED loans to attain a higher education, even at public institutions? Why can’t they pay their tuition by working entry level jobs while attending school like some folks did back in the day?

    There are layers upon layers of problems wrapped up in this discussion, while you remain focused on one tree (the little one with the least power) and miss the forest.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)


    Keep waiting for the cow to jump over the moon. This is a capitalist world. It ain’t going to change because you find yourself unable to pay for college or unable to pay your student loans. As I told Chic…student loans companies are going to get their money before you get your money (i.e., your wages/income tax check).

    Good day.

  • Chic Noir

    You hit it on the nose.

    Toppin This is a capitalist world. It ain’t going to change because you find yourself unable to pay for college or unable to pay your student loans.

    Yup, some people say the same thing about those without health insurance or who have insurance that denies coverage for a life saving procedure.

    This is a capitalist world. It ain’t going to change just because you’re 35 have cancer and have a young child you would like to see grow into an adult. Just be lucky you lived to see 35 and be prepared to die cause ya don’t have enough money to save your life.

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