- It was the kind of birthday Sallie Mae wanted to celebrate. It turned 40, and sent out a few tweets to let everyone know how it had grown.
- It all started off well. Employees and government officials patted Sallie Mae on the back for its work helping students get degrees.
- And then it all went terrible terribly wrong. Sallie Mae began to trend on Twitter -- and not in the good kind of way. Plug "sallie mae" into a couple of free sentiment analysis tools, and you'll find the negative is far outweighing the positive today.
- As of noon, this tweet had been re-tweeted 313 times in a few hours.
- The tweets that follow range from funny to sad to angry. They come from students paying off loans and others, many of them young. Huffington Post blames a statistic from a recent report: "The percentage of tuition costs paid for through borrowed funds is higher among black students and their parents than that of their white counterparts. This may explain why the reaction amongst Twitter users of color was so swift and visceral."
- If all of this gives you heartburn about taking out a few student loans, listen to the advice given to Marketplace Money recently by author Kio Stark who interviewed scores of people about whether their college education was worth it for her new book, "Don't Go Back to School."
"I think people always worry about, 'will I be able to get a job if I learn outside of school, if I don't have a degree.' And all the stories that I collected show that people have every opportunity to find work without having a degree," says Stark. "So I think five years from now, given the economic situation we're in, employers are going to have to respect people who have learned outside of school and their credentials are their experience."
A few more tips for student loan debt and paying for college from Marketplace and Marketplace Money: