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How College Costs and Student Debt Are Destroying America

April 19, 2012

Shackled by debtWe all know about the skyrocketing costs of college tuition and how difficult things are for recent graduates. Those of us in California were startled (but perhaps not surprised) to learn that the cost of attendance at a state university (UC or Cal State) now surpasses that of Harvard or Yale.  (Ouch!)

Those who are beyond college or who don’t have children who may one day like to attend may breathe a little sigh of relief and feel very sympathetic – but tend not to worry about the issue too much.

Whomever you are, listen up: it’s time to start worrying.

  1. The United States cannot compete globally without a college-educated population. Period.
  2. The money going to debt payments by graduates is money they are not spending on housing, retail shopping or whatever it is your business sells.
  3. Student debt forces graduates to work for others and discourages entrepreneurship and innovation.
  4. Along with not buying homes, debt-laden graduates are also putting off having children – goodbye future workforce and taxpayers!
  5. The student loan market is extremely complex, and default levels are astoundingly high – endangering the economy as a whole.
  6. It’s not just students, but also their parents and grandparents whose money is being pulled from the larger economy to payoff college debt.
  7. And what’s the one kind of debt that can never be discharged, no matter what? We’re back to indentured servitude.
  8. Both private and government loans lack “the most fundamental protections we take for granted with every other type of loan” – but at least it keeps the collection agencies in business, since they can “hound you for life.”

It’s sad: the two areas that are doing the greatest long-term harm to the American economy — the costs of higher education and of  health care — are also two areas which most benefit us as a society. Yet, we leave it all at the mercy of “the market” — in both cases allowing maximized profit off of what should be the public good. It’s no way to run a country of the people and for the people.

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