Kaitlin Mahar: This is the face of student debt


Shakeem T. Fowler, a 22-year-old student at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., was charged with second-degree larceny last week for stealing about $14,000 in cash receipts from BJ’s Wholesale Club.Why, you ask? What’s the difference between this man and any other troubled youth from Bridgeport, Conn.?

The answer is simple. Shakeem needed to pay his tuition.

While not everybody takes the route of stealing from their places of employment, college students go to ridiculous lengths to be able to get their education, all for the slight chance of providing a better life for themselves and their loved ones. According to a 2013 Huffington Post article, 53 percent of readers said a college degree was necessary for a good life, as opposed to the 28 percent who believed it isn’t.

Additionally, 62 percent believed that public college tuition wasn’t affordable. Fowler exemplifies what this country has come to: Students having to steal in order to afford their education.

Is he really the criminal here? Or is he yet another victim of the cold, domineering hand of Sallie Mae as she squeezes the life and life savings out of today’s students?

Take another look at Fowler. He isn’t simply a poster boy for those who want an education. Shakeem T. Fowler is a representative of those who need an education and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, no matter the cost.



2 thoughts on “Kaitlin Mahar: This is the face of student debt

  1. I took two 40 hour a week jobs and one 16 hour job on the weekends. I didn’t steal. I am still paying off my student loan. I have no sympathy.


    1. I’m not saying what Fowler did was right, but I can understand his situation. Sometimes, student loans don’t always cut it – people don’t always qualify for enough money to afford a college education, which is exactly my point. If people are resorting to stealing in order to get an education, then the system is inherently flawed.


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