Student Loan Debt Crisis: How’d We Get Here and What Happens Next?

The amount of student loan debt and the rate of delinquency have been climbing for years now. If it seems like every new statistic is worse than the last, that’s because it is. Credit bureau TransUnion says more than half of student loan accounts are in deferral status, and FICO Labs found that a rising number of those debtors aren't paying those loans back.

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The amount of student loan debt and the rate of delinquency have been climbing for years now. If it seems like every new statistic is worse than the last, that’s because it is. Two studies released this week are no exception.

Credit bureau TransUnion says that in the past five years, the average student loan debt each borrower carries has risen 30% to $23,829. More than half of student loan accounts, which add up to more than 40% of the total dollars owed, are in deferral status. This is just a temporary reprieve; students can defer for only a few years before they have to repay.

The trouble is, many of them aren’t doing so. FICO Labs found that delinquencies rose by 22% in five years. For the newest group of loans it studied, delinquency rates are 15.1% — higher than the 11% cited by the Federal Reserve in a November report. Like the Fed’s study, the FICO analysis doesn’t include loans that are in a deferred status — which means the number of people who can’t afford to pay back that money may be almost twice as high as what the official delinquency rates reflect.

This situation obviously can’t be sustained over the long term. “I think a few more years and it’s going to be a general crisis,” says Barry Bosworth, an economist at the Brookings Institution. Interest rates are unusually low right now; when they rise, more borrowers who were just keeping their heads above water are liable to become delinquent.

A Perfect Storm

The aggregate amount of debt has soared because many people decided to go back to school after being laid off, says Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting for TransUnion’s financial services unit.

In today’s economy, people increasingly need a college degree to be viewed as employable. The New York Times says this “degree inflation” comes at a serious cost to students. “In the late 1970s, the median wage was 40% higher for college graduates than for people with more than a high school degree; now the wage premium is about 80%,” it says.

(MORE: Is the Student-Loan Debt Crisis Worse than We Thought?)

And it’s getting more expensive to get those degrees. “We’re pushing more and more of the cost onto the students,” Bosworth says.

This year, the cost of tuition and fees at public four-year colleges went up nearly 5%, according the to the College Board, even as assistance fell. “The rapid growth in federal aid — which for a few years actually reduced the average net prices students paid — has ended,” the group said in an October report.

Waiting on a Turnaround

“It’s unclear whether or not it’s bottomed out,” says Frederic Huynh, senior principal scientist at FICO. One barometer of what future delinquency rates will look like is the credit quality of the people getting student loans today, he says. “If we look at some of the more recent vintages… more consumers have lower FICO scores,” which means more delinquencies.

The tide isn’t going to turn until the labor market for new graduates improves, Huynh says. New graduates need to secure a stable and steady paycheck, he says, but half of college graduates today are either underemployed or don’t have a job at all.

(MORE: Is Forgiving Student-Loan Debt a Good Idea?)

And even an improving job market isn’t going to help the nearly 30% of students who take out loans and never got a degree. This subset of borrowers will continue to struggle, Becker says, because they’ll be relegated to lower-earning jobs while saddled with the same level of debt as their more upwardly-mobile peers “The non-payment rates for people who don’t finish school is really high,” he says.

Another wrinkle is that the jobs today’s grads are in search of might not open up as quickly as everyone would like, because more parents are delaying their own retirements — often to help pay for their kids’ school loans. “It’s kind of a vicious cycle,” Becker says.

The Ripple Effect

The fallout from falling behind on a student loan can literally last for decades. Unlike most other debts, student loans are almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. Most student loans are federal loans, and the government can garnish paychecks, withhold tax refunds, and pursue other means for getting their money back.

(MORE: 60 and Still Not Out of Student Loan Debt: Seniors Facing $36 Billion in College Loans)

There’s also the negative effect a default can have on a person’s credit score: Huynh says a person with a good credit history who stops paying their student loans could see their credit score drop by as much as 100 points. For instance, Becker says, for a car loan, “you might be paying 12% or 15% instead of 4%.”

The broader economic implications are troubling. Graduates struggling to dig out from a mountain of student debt also tend to put off getting married, buying homes, and having kids. And since a bigger chunk of their income will go towards servicing the mortgages or car loans they are able to obtain at higher rates, they’ll have less spending power when they do eventually buy big-ticket items like homes and cars. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau student-loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra warned last year that the magnitude of student loan debt could even hold back a housing recovery. “Student-loan borrowers are sending big payments every month to their loan servicers rather than becoming first-time homebuyers,” he said.

MORE: New Frontier in Student Debt: It Stifles the Housing Recovery

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paul2001

I have almost 90K in student loans that I would have never taken out if people let me know what the prospect of getting a good job was. and it is not good. I can't afford to pay even my utilities on time, and that is without paying the student loans.

I have been working so much just to get by soft of that this has taken all the enjoyment out of life. There are few options for me, as I'm over 50 and chances of finding a good job in this country are next to nothing these days.

I have thought of various ways to remedy this situation, all of the workable solutions would basically come down to either becoming more disabled, dying, or taking me and my wife out of the country.

What I would like to know is what American dream? it does not exist for me here.

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RyanCoxey
RyanCoxey


Um…

I’m not sure the federal government owning student loans disqualifies it as developing inaccurate market perceptions as far as future value goes. I mean most of these students took out loans thinking that an education would give them a job… well that didn’t happen - so now their not going to pay them back, causing the public to absorbed more debt (seems to be a growing tendency lately).
Once the market realized college is a bust, we’re all going to have to pick up the tab of those poor kids who were taken advantage of.

“Significant economic benefits to having a robust higher education system?”
A system can only last as long as people perceive value in its service. If the market perception of the “economic benefits” change, which will happen soon unless grads start getting jobs, the government will stop providing such liberal loans.

The nature of the economy is changing. A college education use to be worth something- now it’s not… 20 years ago a B.A. in International Business meant you could land a job making at least 50k a year. Now that degree you can get a job at Starbucks or the Apple store maybe. So why go to college?Why take out loans to pay for something that is basically worthless?


Now college is a better deal then ever?
My B.A. is worthless… at least that’s what people in HR all over the world have told me. So how can something that is “worthless” be a better deal then ever before? Like I said 20 years ago recent grads would have got a job. It’s a waste of time. Just graduate high school and open up a bakery or something.

TJDMBA
TJDMBA

Hate to break it to everyone, but people who cannot afford to pay back their loans will not pay back their loans.  You may complain and cry all you want, but that is not going to make these people able to pay back their loans.  You may complain that the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay the bill.  Again, hate to break it to you, but so what?  They will have to do so.  The US has many FALSE receivables because it does not honestly acknowledge that these loans will never be paid back.  The ONLY solution is for the US to RESTORE the bankruptcy protections for ALL student loans.  Anyhow, the naysayers are going to learn the hard way.  

CaseytCTTee
CaseytCTTee

No one should get loans or financial aid to attend a private college or university. If you want a Cadillac education, that should be on you, not the taxpayers - which is who will pick this up when they default.
You can get an affordable education at a City College and then transfer to a 4 year public institution.
Nor should financial aid or loans be used for fluffy degrees in non-essential majors like the majority of those offerred at Columbia Links like Video Game Technology. Government aid should be for vital majors like math, science, business, engineering , architecture, education, etc.

aaronm989
aaronm989

Ok, this article doesn't say anything about the "where we go from here" part.  Do we end up forgiving student loans?  Most are federal loans - that's not outside the realm of possibility.

MikeDiGiacomo
MikeDiGiacomo

For-profit colleges and student loan companies worked hand in hand to prey on the poor to get the federal funding. 90% of that funding is Pell and Federal student loans. The  other 10% was bad private student loans. Now it's GI BILL. SallieMae and others wrote those private loans knowing full well they were bad and totally lacked consumer protections due to their own lobbyists.

samuelsedwards
samuelsedwards

If you have school loans from university, do a little research and find out what your university's endowment is worth. I was shocked to find that my college - which was very expensive yet had no name recognition whatsoever (bad decision on my part) - had several hundred million dollars in endowments. And the school had fewer than 1000 students!! Much of that money was spent on building things like new tennis facilities (even though we had a dozen tennis courts already) and landscaping. Yet I was saddled with $30,000 of debt when I graduated...and no marketable skills. I was foolish, but I was also ignorant of the situation as many young people are. The money given to the school in endowments should be used to support the students studying at the school, not to build flowered paths and benches in manicured parks. In fact, there should be a law that once a school's endowment reaches a certain level, all endowment above that level must be used to offset student tuition and fees. 


boballende
boballende

How’d We Get Here?  Ha!


The United States has been in the student loan business since the 1950s.  The student loan program was fine right up until the time Republicans sabotaged the program in 1995. 


In 1995, the Republican-controlled 104th United States Congress privatized Sallie Mae.  Sallie Mae became a corporation, "went rogue," and started getting into the business of making unfair and deceptive loans to kids and their parents. Banks and loan companies also saw opportunities to easily double and triple their investments with no risk so they deviously started marketing student loans as something a "normal American" did along with buying a big house and leasing a big car.


Universities, particularly private universities, saw opportunities to enrich themselves and compete with prestigious Ivy League schools so they increased their fees because uninformed kids were getting easy money. Because many capitalist extremists did whatever they could to funnel taxpayer dollars to their corporate buddies who made trillions of dollars in war profits, bad loans, and deceptive financial deals, state schools saw their education budgets diminished which also forced them to increase fees to stay relevant.


Notwithstanding the money we lost because of wars and deceptive financial deals, had Republicans never privatized Sallie Mae and ensured that people had the same bankruptcy protection as other unsecured debt, banks would have considered the risk, tuition would not be as high, and we would not be worried about a trillion dollar student loan debt.


H.R.1501 -- Student Loan Privatization Act of 1995 (Introduced in House - IH).

S.1198 -- Student Loan Privatization Act of 1995 (Introduced in Senate - IS).


Whether it's war toys, or bank bailouts, or tax breaks, or private prisons, or no bid contracts, or criticizing public schools while promoting school vouchers to private schools, or disparaging community colleges while supporting private for-profit colleges, or enriching fast food restaurants with food stamps (and blaming poor people), or armies of private security contractors, or the privatization of the student loan market, or the privatization of social security, almost every plan & scheme designed by the Republican Party is calculated to transfer taxpayers' money to big business and corporations.


They expose our taxpayer dollars to the open market and let big business and corporations fight for it like kids collecting candy from a smash piñata. It doesn't really matter which large-scale institute collects the candy, politicians know that they will receive their share of the plunder.

MKGettinger
MKGettinger

Learn you to spell "you're" you old POS.  Once again, you fail to respond to anything I've said with logical, well-reasoned arguments - instead you attempt to personally attack me.  I have made, and will continue to make, timely payments on loans, as well as those of my significant other, and also support your old, degenerating body that refuses to retire and requires us to implement a national healthcare plan because you and the rest of your hypocritical generation made promises you can't keep and were completely irresponsible with your money (if you can generalize, so can I).  Now when its time to pay up on those promises, we suddenly cannot afford anything because the problem is so ridiculously large that it is almost comical.  And then you have the audacity to go after the generation below you who are going to college at a much higher rate, because of the system you have created, and trying to position themselves to enjoy the same fiscally imprudent lifestyle you enjoyed while, at the same time, SUPPORTING YOU AND YOUR ENTIRE GENERATION BECAUSE YOU CREATED THE ENTIRE MESS THAT WE ARE NOW BEING ASKED TO FIX.  

Also, you fail to mention how I used LIBOR incorrectly.  Most anyone who understands finance and "basic math" knows that a collection of currencies, bundled in an index, reflects the overall health of the world economy.  Not sure how my interpretation is anything but accurate, but you're the financial wizard, so I guess I'll just defer to you.  

 As for credit cards, I likely have more credit available to my debt-ridden, deadbeat, nothing but a drag on your lifestyle self, as well as a higher credit score.  I don't recall, but I think I learned what all those numbers and symbols and other such jargon mean while I was double-majoring with a minor and graduating summa cum laude from a class of 6,000.  I guess I must have just missed all the classes that you took at your local community college focusing on humility and reason.  

 GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!

KevinVogel
KevinVogel

It's not about education so much as it is about an Administration that encouraged the debt. Every time the administration raised the amount a student could borrow the colleges raised their fees by almost the exact same amount. 

mobilecasedirect
mobilecasedirect

Why does education need to cost so much in the US? Our leaders need to realize that education & healthcare should not be for profit enterprises in the US. Every child deserves to further their education but those who will need to borrow will be left with an average job straddled with debt. This is not the start we want for our children.

I don't see any rich teachers. Where's the money going? 

cwallace83
cwallace83

Why not go to piglt (pronounced 'piglet')?  PIGLT [dot] com .  They let you crowdfund your student loans in exchange for skills that you already have -- they send the successful funding directly to your school or loan originator so no funding is misused -- brilliant!

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

Student loan debt. Oh, isn't that like our national debt? In that case at least, Congress seems to be happy to say, "It doesn't count", continuing to kick the can down the road. Why is this news? With a terrible job economy and college costs rising as fast or fast than healthcare, who in the right mind is surprised by this? And why should college students get a bail out when the home owners didn't?

CoGyspyGirl
CoGyspyGirl

Here's a new view of delinquent loans. For years now, I have been forced to pay someone else's (apparently?) delinquent student loan. Repeated demands for documentation to "prove" this loan is mine result in a huge packet of copies of my correspondence to the Dept. of Education demanding copies of documentation proving this loan is mine, and that it even exists. No such documents have been provided, because no loan documents exist. Yet stil, the government continues to take $115 out of my much needed monthly Social Security check. Because they can. I am not alone here, this kind of theft - and yes, it is theft - happens to others besides me. And now, those selfsame bureaucrats are finding ways to cut my "entitlement" programs, i.e., the money I paid into the system over the last 50 years, and now need to draw back out to live on. Minus the cost of some nameless person's student loan.  As ErikKengaard said below, "Behind ALL of our major problems, you find the US Congress."

SarahConfran
SarahConfran

we also need to address the fact that students have an unrealistic view of what type of careers they can have and thus go into college majors that have few jobs to offer and a saturated pool of people willing to do those jobs. A fine arts major is more likely to be working in retail than in any job that requires that degree. we need to stop the feeling of "do what you love for a living" because newsflash: if you can't find someone to pay you to do x activity it can't be your living. 

ErikKengaard
ErikKengaard

We got here because congress cut the private sector in on the lucrative student loan business, and made discharge through bankruptcy impossible. Behind all of our major problems you find the US congress.

samuelsedwards
samuelsedwards

They bailed out the banks...aren't the young people of the nation at least as important as those scoundrels?

A workable system would be simple: let the students take loans. As soon as they get a job, take a percentage of the paycheck. If the job is lost, there would be no repayment of the loan during the time of unemployment. Once a new job is found, repayment of the loan begins again. This would all be automatic, not voluntary. But the percentage taken out of the paycheck should not be crippling. Sure, some borrowers would experience long-term unemployment and the loan might not get paid back, but would it be worse than the situation today? Besides, if the college degree received is truly worth the investment, then the students will get the jobs. If the education was worthless, the loan should be seen as a bad investment from the viewpoint of the lender. It is a risk/reward game. And if certain universities or certain degrees prove more worthless than others, then perhaps lending practices should adjust accordingly. 

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@mobilecasedirect 

You're going to love this...

The colleges/universities nowadays are spending the jacked-up tuition on the following:

1) Upgraded Dormitories (including Freshmen dorms)

2) Performing Arts Centers

3) Weight-Lifting Centers

4) New Gymnasiums

5) Wi-Fi Access Subscriptions

6) The Latest Computer Labs

7) New Cafeterias

8) New Student Centers

9) New Buildings (for Law/Medical Schools)

Each of those items (and more) costs $$$ to operate on an annual basis.  That's why the tuition keeps creeping ever-upwards.

ColoradoChristopher
ColoradoChristopher

I agree that this disaster was caused by government, but not because the private sector was “cut in” to the loans.Actually, the government began cutting banks OUT of underwriting student loans in the 1990’s and finalized that effort two years ago.Only one bank nationally still underwrites student loans- the state-owned bank of South Dakota.That’s why the bubble has been filled to bursting- the government cares not about an individual’s ability to repay these loans.They loan as much as the student needs, or wants, to get a degree in any field, regardless of the financial viability of that degree.The students have to pay it back (can’t be written off in a bankruptcy), and if not, hey, the taxpayer will pay.The colleges and universities, in turn, have seen the gold mine and raised tuition exponentially because their administrators know that the government will provide the $$.

To make it even better, Obama has floated the plan to “write off” all student loan debt for those graduates who serve in government for a specified time period, or after twenty years, regardless of service.

Boy, do I feel stupid paying for all my schooling myself.

mgrbhw
mgrbhw

@samuelsedwards I think that's a great idea, and it is indeed simple, while putting the "college degree = better paid job" hypothesis . I would add that during times of unemployment, there should be no accumulated interest on the loan, and that the interest that would be in place during employment would be capped at something reasonable like 3.5%-4.5% per year. Further, the cap on payment amount (ie. 10-15% of net income) would in no way be a disincentive for college grads to not look for jobs or seek low-paid jobs just to avoid paying student loans. 

ColoradoChristopher
ColoradoChristopher

That is the problem.  There is no risk and only reward for the universities, which are just as happy to issue thousands of psychology, art and women's studies degrees as they are more lucrative degrees.  There is no downside for them.  Whatever they charge in tuition is covered by government-backed student loans.

The government likewise doesn't care if there is a return on the investment of taxpayer dollars. 

My tax dollars should only go for degrees that we actually need in this society.  We need employed taxpayers, not "self fulfilled" starving artists who occupy Wall Street and demand that I pay their way.

sethwh
sethwh

@samuelsedwards 

 Exactly, do not give John Doe Jr a 60K loan because he wants to be a philosophizer. Tell him to get a library card.

ErikKengaard
ErikKengaard

@samuelsedwards - sort of thw way Australia does it, except that Australian colleges accept only qualified applicants.

CarolinaBruce
CarolinaBruce

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samuelsedwards
samuelsedwards

@ColoradoChristopher The problem I see with this thinking, Christopher, is that psychology, art and women's studies are extremely valuable to society even if there are no real jobs for them. Eliminate those fields from universities and western society would truly suffer. We need to encourage people to pursue their passions, otherwise we end up with an army of miserable and depressed cubicle drones. The only reason a C# programming degree is more valuable than a women's studies degree is because there are more jobs available and the salaries are higher. That is because products created by C# programmers are salable to the public, they are profit generators. That does NOT mean that C#  programming generates greater value to a community than the study of art or women's studies. We just have not learned how to measure with numbers the value such knowledge imparts. 

samuelsedwards
samuelsedwards

@sethwh  I see what you are driving at, Seth, but one problem we have in the western world is that there is a shortage of true thinkers, people who truly understand humanity and the human condition. We need such people as much as we need architects and engineers and scientists. We SHOULD invest in developing those skills, but it is true there are no jobs for them. Perhaps such education should be offered at a severe discount (maybe free!) or the repayment terms should be adjusted. Or maybe all students wanting to study a soft, theoretical subject such as philosophy or art history should be required to select a second major in a practical, job-oriented field, such as programming or networking or teaching or accounting etc. Without that second, practical subject, no loan. I hate to think that our institutes of higher learning have become mere factories for industry workers instead of places of exploration. 

mgrbhw
mgrbhw

@ColoradoChristopher

 @ColoradoChristopher 

"There is no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody has to pay."

Yeah, but how MUCH should one pay? I too have a kid growing up in a world that's evidently divorced itself from common sense, namely, in which college education price is ludicrous and students lead to believe and accept that it's 'the way life is.' They are told from multiple sources that they will have dead-end jobs UNLESS they get a college diploma. They are told at recruiting offices that there will be work for them. How exactly do you as an 18 year old and with semi-literate and research-wise not-so-savvy parents predict the employment market 4-6 years into the future? How do you obtain accurate statistics on how many students have matriculated into the major you have chosen on any given year as yours in order to estimate the supply of labor in that market? How do you gain insight that something you are passionate about (say, philosophy) leaves the rest of the world apathetic? Philosophers can contribute immensely to the branches of law and politics, just to name a few, and that is where some of them - who don't pursue academia and professorships - should apply themselves. Not to mention their value in educating the public at large to think critically, be motivated to study the world around them, and make thought-out choices.

But back to my main argument... I can only defend the current generation of debt-saddled and held-back students to an extent. For all I know, 80% of them signed the loans, took out the maximum possible amount, partied their way through college, and are now crying because they can't even convert their resumes to .pdf's, let alone put contents on it that are valuable to any employer. I am more concerned about the future students - particularly, my daughter who is now going to first grade.

With my single mom status, an engineering degree and a salary a little below the median for my profession, I can only do so much to save upfront for my daughter's future education (as well as my retirement, as well as owning property hopefully before retirement age - my parents were  poor immigrants: I was not fortunate to inherit money or property, oh well...). 

It's not like she can pay her way through any university cleaning chickens. Heck, that wasn't possible even when I was going to school (late 90s/early00s). Working on weekends and tutoring during the week enabled me to pay for my share of apartment rent/utilities and food. I worked full time (or several jobs) + took classes during the summers just to pay for textbooks and have a little extra for basic necessities in case I have a light week workload-wise during the school year. College prices are projected to be over $60k per year for a state university in 2024. I would need to be putting just shy of $500 per month at an account with 5% return interest rate. That is insane! I don't have that kind of money, not today, and probably not in the near future. Of course, I contribute what I can (something more like $200/month), but she will still have a huge chunk of the bill to bear on her shoulders. Unless something changes...

Unless, for instance, colleges start allowing credentials from their institution to students who elect to self-educate through other much cheaper resources (internet anyone?), then sign up to take placement tests from the same professors that write exams and finals for students in their regular status-quo classes. Though this cannot be done with all the classes such as rhetoric or material science lab reports, a huge dent can be made with many other general electives and specialty courses before a student has to go the conventional path. It's like AP tests of the current age, but extended a little further - to save that extra year or two of payments.

And this is just one suggestion. The main idea is to get education to be cheaper, and if you ask me, merit based. Ample financial aid to students with A- or higher GPA for example. 

I tutor math and physics as my side job, and I tell every kid I meet with that college education is wonderful, but no matter what they do, they should NOT take out loans to obtain it. They nod and say: "No, of course not, that would be crazy." So presumably (big but still hopeful 'presumably' in that one), they've caught on to this scam of over-pricing college and will not accept the current prices and terms of loan repayment. 

But this fight needs to continue until everyone who demonstrates academic seriousness and success is given ample opportunity to obtain college-level credentials without footing the exorbitant bill. And those who do not demonstrate it, to be told in no unclear terms that their life will be indentured servitude if they continue to take out loans for a certificate they do not own with all their weight.

samuelsedwards
samuelsedwards

@ColoradoChristopher  I personally know MBAs from decent universities that are unemployed or working low-wage jobs. I know programmers and accountants in the same boat. I also know two Art History majors who are each earning over $100,000 per year. Finding work and building a career has more to do with the person than it does the degree. In fact, most people I know are not even working in fields related to what they studied at university. So, was that $80,000 well spent? Obviously, it depends on the return the individual gets. One thing is certain, studying at university is no guarantee of success or failure; it is just an opportunity to learn and grow. How one applies that learning and growth to other areas and jobs is what matters. 

Personally, I think $80,000 is an unwise investment for education of any kind, unless you are getting a Wharton MBA, a JD from Yale or something strong from an elite school. I despise schools that overcharge for education and burden students with massive debt just to turn a profit. But look at your reasoning for a moment. If all the Art History majors switched to Accounting, think of what that would do to the accounting profession. No new accounting jobs would open up, accounting wages would plummet, and many accountants would be unemployed. That would not be beneficial for society. Society is smarter than that, though. We all understand that investing in the education of young people - even gender studies, art history and basketweaving - is an investment in society's future. Not because those people will get jobs, but rather because those people will be thinkers. The Occupy Wall Street protesters were not simply slackers and moochers. Many of them were/are game changers and cage rattlers, which are valuable roles to play in a dynamic community. And, as mentioned in the first part of this answer, a formal education is more than just subject content. 

ColoradoChristopher
ColoradoChristopher

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody has to pay. The bill for the overwhelming debt our government is accruing to provide "free" education and health care (to name two) will come due- not for you, perhaps, but for your children and grandchildren. And for mine. 

I agreed more with your earlier post- have students get a degree in something that will pay the bills, and perhaps a secondary degree (paid for by the student) in something that "empowers" them.  Where is the wisdom in getting a four year degree in art history with $80,000 in student loan debt and no hope of getting a job? And don't tell me that the student shouldn't have to pay the $80,000, and that the taxpayer should relish that duty. The Occupy Wall Street crowd showed me just what kind of investment that is.

I recognize the need for art, psychology and women's rights in a culture, but not to the detriment of having a functioning, responsible and resilient society.

samuelsedwards
samuelsedwards

@ColoradoChristopher Maybe, but the world your children are growing up in would be a far worse place if nobody in it was discussing art, psychology or women's rights. 

I believe education is a basic human right and should be offered for free, even university education. An educated populace is an empowered and productive populace and makes for a dynamic and competitive society. If jobs get outsourced and unemployment rises, at least people are not saddled with massive school debt. Sure, private for-profit schools should be part of the mix in order to drive innovation in education. But young people should have free options for education beyond secondary school. An investment in educating our young people is a wise use of tax revenues, as wise as buying bombs and bullets. Where I live, the only things students pay for are books and supplies. If they live away from home, they have to figure that out, either work to pay bills or take loans. But the education is free. That alone changes everything.

ColoradoChristopher
ColoradoChristopher

I'm fine with people pursuing their passions, just don't expect me to pay for it.  What, exactly, is the point in getting one of those degrees, however, if "there are no real jobs for them?"  The taxpayer should just fork over $60,000 for each of these individuals to feel self actualized, and then have them sit on their butts all day?  How do they show that they are "extremely valuable to society?"

Bottom line- get a degree in something that pays the bills, even if it means being a "cubicle drone," but get a hobby that you enjoy. We will never live in a utopia that "leans how to measure with numbers the value such knowledge imparts." Like it or not, since the beginning of time, cultures place monetary value on the things that enrich them.

Good God- I worked three jobs to put myself through undergraduate school, including cleaning chickens for 8 hours every Saturday so I didn't have to take out loans.  Did I enjoy it?  Heck, no.  But there is something to be said for knowing you put in a good day's work and paid your own way.

Sorry for getting on my soapbox.  Your reply was very polite.  I simply feel that the world my children are growing up in has divorced itself from common sense.

Rio
Rio

@samuelsedwards @sethwh   the problem will get worse when the job situation changes and those degrees become "hot" and those excess engineers become what?  Also expanding the grant program would help many schools cheat by assigning only 50% to the grant and making the student take out loans.  Even when the student is eligible for 100% grants.