PENSACOLA, FL—According to a study conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, a large percentage of students who graduate from U.S. colleges and universities in the coming year are, in fact, in debt to Japan's yakuza.
Experts from the Department of Student Affairs were reportedly overwhelmed by the weight of the financial burdens caused by the estimated 774,000 student debt collectors that the Secret Service estimates to be related to college and the general "elitist trend" of college students indentifying as working in high-paying salaried jobs.
"The irony is just too painful to absorb," said David Wade, director of student affairs at the University of Florida, describing how the average student almost certainly has to work for money to pay off that campus loan. "Because of the American and New Deal college infrastructure built over the last few decades, the flow of student debt to Yakuza has been unprecedented. Our three offices at UF alone have found more than 400 students carrying debt and some $6,000 in for-profit debt. If some of these students are not working security in casinos in Macau, then I simply don't know how it all came to this."
"This is such a huge problem and has gotten so out of hand that it's essentially become a cottage industry," added Wade.
Though the government has no statistics on the combined student debt carried by each academic year, the Secret Service has confirmed that at least one college student is in it for the money. According to the study, of the 63,000 students currently enrolled at UF, 24 of them are reportedly yakuza.
In addition, a majority of the Harvard University students graduating with debt to the yakuza are also in it for the money, even though this is a school with a heavy emphasis on liberal arts and language and international research.
"There are really no words for it," said Jed Stubblefield, a Harvard Business School student who said he's been working since the last day of his freshman year. "Money just wasn't a big issue when I was in high school. I received the fabled government job aid package and had a comfortable first four years of college. But then came the seniors and now I have no income and am expecting to be in serious debt for the next 20 years. And it's not only money. I am $7,000 in debt to a corrupt judge who blackmailed me to drop out of college and do a six-month indentured stint for him. He just wouldn't take no for an answer."
Adding that his family's financial situation is not so good, Stubblefield said he sometimes wonders if his tuition payments will ever be paid off.
"I am terribly sad about this, but what can I do?" Stubblefield said. "You think I can blame my family? No way. What's my mom going to do if I can't afford to grow up?"
According to Stubblefield, most of the young graduates can expect to repay the majority of their student loans within a year, for better or worse. While Stubblefield anticipates that most of the debt will be "completed" by the time he turns 32, he worries about what might happen after that.
"The crazy thing is that this is an epidemic that no one is paying attention to," said William Lauderdale, a Long Beach State student who works as a cook at Olive Garden. "There's no information available for students like me. Nobody knows how I managed to get through college with so much debt, or if I was ever paid for it. I really don't know."
"The thing is, if I let the Yakuza get to me, I'll never be able to repay this debt and pay my kids off for college," Lauderdale added. "Nothing in this world can make me feel better."
According to the Secret Service report, 69.9 percent of student debts are from loans taken out to pay for student expenses; 20.6 percent are federal subsidized loans taken out to cover out-of-pocket student-loan costs; 17.4 percent are private loans taken out for tuition and fees, although many of those are Sallie Mae-sponsored loans that have very little restrictions upon them.