Saturday, September 24, 2011

College and Debt

Sarah Jaffe at Alternet laments the gigantic debt incurred by college students.  Where she fails is in placing blame.  Never getting to the heart of the matter (which I will get to later), she blames the collection agency after the student defaults.

Now, I have some personal experience with college and with student loans.  I went to college later in life (I started at 31) and was able to  pay via GI Bennies.  They ran out, thanks to the transition from Vietnam-era benefits and the current system (thanks, Democrat-controlled Congress - I still had 36 months of eligibility left).  But I had the ability to go back for a year to the high-paying job I left to go to college (another story for another time).  Not everyone has that ability.  I get that.

But here's the deal:  we subsidize both public and private colleges and universities through both scholarships and the federal student loan program.  There is no incentive for these institutions to contain costs.  From a cultural standpoint, there is a belief in this country that everyone should go  to college.  Consequently, many are admitted who are unprepared.  But no matter, the Feds will provide a loan, either way.    And since those loans are generally means-tested, the loans go to those least able to pay them back.  Is it any wonder the massive student loans go into default?

To blame the collection agency and claim that students should just not bother to repay is absurd.  Let's work on the root of the problem.


Dad29 said...

The FIRST error here is the error that 'college education makes one useful and smart.'

Education, in the classical (Conservative) sense, should make one understand human nature and be able to see the higher things well.

Apprenticeship is for learning a trade or skill, and for most (not all) professions.

IOW, the fallacy is that 'college' makes one 'educated.'

There are very few, if any, highy-skilled machinists, farmers, or tradesmen who learned their stuff in college. And few whose "skills" would improve by virtue of a college education, by the way.

Selling "college" as a means to business or professional success is nigh unto fraud. But it provides millions of people with jobs--as college teachers and administrators.

Deekaman said...

I could not (and did not) say it better.