The latest schadenfreude that has us all glued to entertainment news is the #collegecheatingscandal; a nauseating attempt by some of Hollywood’s wealthiest parents to cheat their already privileged kids into the best colleges. It is just another example of how the wealthiest in the country take advantage of a system that is already tipped heavily in their favor. But what comes with wealth these days far exceeds what prior generations have known. And yet this is the biggest argument we could possibly have towards financial aid forgiveness. Bear with me.
Lori Loughlin, an 80’s actress most of us hadn’t thought of in a long time, if ever really at all, apparently amassed a sizeable (by my standards) fortune over the years. Her work on the ’80s hit Full House in addition to work on other shows, TV movies and spokesperson for various companies brought her in an estimated $20 million. Her husband, 90’s fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli has his own massive bank account in the tune of $80 million. The two of them together undoubtedly own investments and other money-making ventures bringing in who knows how much more additional money.
Felicity Huffman is best known for her years on Desperate Housewives (the irony here kills me) but has also been in numerous independent films has a reported net worth of $20 million. Her husband, though not charged in this, has had many hit movies and TV shows and comes in at $45 million. The two of them together have a staggering $65 million dollars floating around. Most likely also well invested in various projects and companies. In other words, they are all OK.
Meanwhile, in real-world America the rest of us are in DEBT. Hugh, massive overwhelming DEBT that will follow many of us until the day we die. I am a single parent putting myself through grad school. My own personal debt for wanting a decent life to take care of my children without living hand to mouth has me in financial aid debt to the tune of $120k and climbing (I graduate this fall). I am not alone here. I have colleagues that have just as much if not more. There is nothing any of us can do about this debt. If we get sick or can’t pay, there is no way to file bankruptcy. We cannot get social security until it is paid off, meaning many of us will remain in the workforce until far beyond the standard age of retirement. We are expected to pay off our debt, save for retirement and somehow put our own kids through college hoping they don’t meet the same fate.
The Giannulli girls, Olivia Jade and Isabella, along with the Macy girl Sofia will be fine. They are born into a life for which they will never do without, never know if they will make their rent or know the struggle of trying to pay back massive student loan debt. They also have a life that has allowed them contacts and connections the rest of us can only dream of.
When I was in my teens the hottest models of the time were Paulina Porizkova, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington. Women that were “discovered”, seemingly plucked out of nowhere that went on to become supermodels, with lucrative contracts with makeup and clothing companies. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Some of the biggest models today are Gigi Hadid, Kaia Gerber, and Kendall Jenner. Not to mention Bella Hadid, Sailor Lee Brinkley-Cook and Ireland Baldwin. All beautiful girls, but not “plucked” out of nowhere. In my honest opinion, some of them simply aren’t as attractive as their mothers. But they were all born with something the rest of us don’t have. Amazing connections and a foot in a door that is slammed shut for other more deserving people. They have Instagram and YouTube accounts that allow for hundreds of thousands if not millions of followers. Like Olivia Jade, they can start YouTube channels with access to the best editing equipment (if not hired editors). This can lead to things like lucrative business deals with makeup companies (again like Olivia Jade) and endorsements can bring in additional funds. And so the same scenario plays out time and again for the other children of wealthy parents.
These girls didn’t seem to even want to go to school, their parents seemed to only want to keep up the facade of living their idea of a perfect life. One that included their kids being students in the most sought after schools despite the fact that they didn’t deserve the academic honor of being there. It’s infuriating enough that they have the privilege without the need, but the fact is should they graduate they will have no debt to pay back. No fear of having their incomes garnished for not doing so. No, the playing field is no longer not just uneven, it is simply unobtainable. With the connections and money the parents of these girls have they will go on to invest in other venues at best, or at worst live in their parent’s gold lined basements for the rest of their lives. They will be ok. The rest of us, not so much.
Isn’t it time we start taxing the wealthiest the hardest and start using this money for education for those that want it? Shouldn’t these highly sought-after schools like USC start offering more spots to the kids that worked the hardest and deserved it but don’t have the fancy last name to get them in? Shouldn’t we have grants for graduate degrees instead of just straight loans for those that don’t come from wealth?
As a single parent, I am incredibly proud of the fact that I put myself through graduate school despite some massive hurdles thrown my way. I hung in there and I am nearly done. This is the kind of determination I want to pass on to my children. But this feat should not come with the price tag of the massive debt that many of us will struggle to pay back. It is time this country stops with the nepotism that is keeping the best and the brightest from moving forward. I honestly think there are plenty of young, more deserving girls on YouTube that could use that Sephora connection more than Olivia Jade. But they’ll never get it because they were raised by a single mom who worked two jobs to provide for them instead of an 80’s sitcom star who got lucky in the entertainment industry and married well to boot. I think this is all a sad commentary on the avarice and greed that seems to propel a lot of what happens in our society.
I also think it’s time to even the playing field.

Thea Bryan is a single parent putting herself through grad school. Life is hard, but she is harder. Press on.

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