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On Bryce’s Mind

By Staff | Jul 9, 2012

Something is wrong with higher education. Actually there are a lot of things wrong with it, just ask any current or former college student, or faculty member. But the one thing that is outrageous is student loans as they stand today. As more students decide to go to college, the total student loan debt also goes up.

Last week the United States Senate and the House of Representatives were trying to make a deal on how to make student loans affordable for students. I must say, they were trying to do something about this now?! In an election year, when political fighting is at a high? Couldn’t they have done this in 2009? Couldn’t they have done this in 2011, when the student loan debt surpassed the national average for credit card debt? Seriously, in 2011 it was in the trillions.

Conservative blogger Rob Port said in an April 8 posting on SayAnythingBlog.com that like the home loans market, there is a “sub-prime bubble in the student loan market”, and that like the belief that “increased home ownership would make us a better country” the government has been subsidizing college students with the same belief.

All right, look, you’re a college student. Let’s say your tuition is $8,000 for a whole year, your room is $5,000 a year, your meal plan is $2,000, you’ve got hundreds of dollars in fees, and, depending on your class load, you’re gonna spend probably anywhere between $100-$1000, or more, on books. You’ve got a grant and a scholarship that may take out a chunk of those things you’ve got to pay for, but that’s it. A chunk. Now if you’ve got the option of accepting one or multiple loans that you do not have to pay back until you’re done with school, would you? If it sounded like free money, then of course you would.

College graduates or dropouts have options when it comes time to repaying their loans. They can consolidate some, all (depending on the type), or one of their loans into one loan in order to pay one amount. They can defer, or they can set up a plan based on their income. Science, technology, engineering and math graduates (STEM) are eligible for up to a certain amount of money in loan forgiveness.

But student loans are not without problems. Since 2005, even privately held student loans cannot be discharged when someone files for bankruptcy, unless the borrower shows an undue hardship. If someone defaults on their student loan payments, the debt he or she has to pay skyrockets. Collection agencies and the government will do what it takes to get their money back, all because someone missed at least one payment. Plus with certain repayment plans, it takes a lot longer to pay off the loans, and the interest rates keep changing.

Plus look at what’s happening now with people graduating college. People with degrees are getting jobs, but not the kind of jobs for which they studied. Chances are a person with a degree in English Literature, for example, will get a job at McDonald’s rather than make money as an author or a critic.

Any debt can be damaging to a person’s reputation, and credit, if he or she cannot pay. So why aren’t student loans treated like any other form of debt? Personally I think they should be.

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