Anyone who has spent any time on this site over the past few years knows that I hate student debt. Student debt is the reason I currently rent a home instead of owning one. Student debt is the reason my car is 16 years old instead of new, and student debt is the reason my hairline isn’t what it used to be (ok, genetics may have play a part in the last one, but student debt is a major stressor in my life). While it is true that every generation has had to deal with student debt, due to inflated college prices and lender-friendly public policy, it has hit millennials harder than anyone else. That all being said, I’m glad I was able to get my student loans.
The Value of an Education
In the past getting a college degree was a slam dunk. It really didn’t matter where you went or what you studied, a degree meant you were college educated and employable. It was an investment that almost always paid off.
Today, a college degree isn’t what it used to be. More people have them, and they are more expensive to acquire. Some have very little value in the job market. Even though a degree isn’t the advantage it once was, it is often necessary to get where you want to go.
In my case, I have a job that I love doing and work that I find to be meaningful. It is also a job that I never could have gotten without my college education. Student loans afforded me the opportunity to attend graduate school; without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Why bring all this up?
In the coming months and years our nation will hopefully engage in a national discourse on ways to fix our student loan problems.
Many of our nation’s student loan issues stem from the fact that student loans are too easy to get. The problem with student loans being too easy to get is that colleges can raise prices without students taking issue. Worse yet, some for-profit institutions may even mislead students into taking out large amounts of debt for degrees that don’t justify the price. It is pretty easy to trace exploding tuition prices back to ease of getting student loans.
I’m not suggesting that we need to make student loans harder to get and all our problems will be fixed. Rather, the point is that part of our student loan problem was breed out of a very noble goal… giving everyone access to higher education.
The trick going forward will be finding a way to reign in student debt and college prices without closing the doors of higher education to those who seek it.