On Friday, August 28th, TikToker Holly Polly (@swankysquirrel1) posted a video in which she cries and laughs to the camera while trying to grasp her student loan debts. She expresses her frustration with the U.S.’s loaning system. The video has already gained over 2 million views on TikTok and hundreds of thousands of retweets.
This TikTok has created a conversation on social media which has sparked a debate between whether or not student loan debt is a result of predation by student loan holders or if it is your own personal responsibility to pay off your debts. In her TikTok, Holly makes it clear that she believes it is not the fault of the individual, but of the system itself.
Many Twitter users agree with her stance on the matter.
Muted. Argue with your auntie.
— Nayamka Roberts-Smith, LE (@LaBeautyologist) August 28, 2020
Everyone in the comments saying “Just work for it ☺️” SHES PAID $120,000 ON A $80,000 LOAN?! She still OWES $76k! Basically her ENTIRE loan. How is that not working for it? Student loans are DESIGNED to keep you in debt. My mom who went to college in the 80’s is still paying hers
— ZebbraFries (@ZebbraFries) August 29, 2020
Now the National Average for interest rates on Student Loans are anywhere from 5.05% to 7.08%. So, considering Holly overlaid her video with a 7%, we can assume that her interest rate wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Yet, some people online still think the outstanding debt is her fault.
— @BMS_DavesNotHere (@BMSMaxContract) August 28, 2020
Along with the critics, there are many people who are questioning the validity of her statements and the legitimacy of the video. Another Twitter user chimed in to point out that Holly Polly posted a second TikTok that proved that the information in her first TikTok was actually false! The numbers given in that video were all wrong.
this literally isn’t true, she posted this shortly after and tried to hide that she already paid off 80k of the principal. her original loan was closer to 160k…. pic.twitter.com/o0yDDTdBsX
— kt 🥺 (@kateylewser) August 28, 2020
Wait, so this information wasn’t the truth? You mean the internet gave us false information? I know it’s tough to believe. But before we decide what’s true or not, maybe we better check in with someone who knows more about interest rates, personal finance and well, math in general.
On the personal finance site BraveSaver, the TikTok was analyzed. After running several tests with various situations, loan interest rates and financial plans, it was concluded that, “the numbers by the original TikToker just do not add up.”
Perhaps that isn’t the point though. While the numbers being shared may not be accurate, this TikTok is helping to illustrate a very crucial point: there are flaws in the current student loaning system. In fact, BraveSaver, the same site who corrected the TikTok went on to add their own thoughts and actually AGREED with Holly Polly.
In the final paragraphs of the article, BraveSaver pointed out that, “the state of student loans is horrifying and needs to change.” Additionally, they wrote that perhaps Holly was not intentionally lying but that she was not educated enough on the matters of financial loans and therefore she thought her numbers and story were accurate. So really, this also just brings to light the lack of financial literacy being taught in higher education.
And now, whether or not this is a true story or a theatrical performance for views, it has garnered the attention of several different politicians across the country. Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted her support of the TikTok on Friday.
Abolish student loan debt.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 28, 2020
Then, Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said in a statement, “The average borrower has $30,000 worth of [student loan] debt — [canceling that] will jump-start the economy.”
So, does it really matter whether or not this TikTok was 100% accurate in the details? As we approach election season, perhaps now more than ever we have to consider redesigning our loaning systems for our students.