We have a student loan crisis here in the United States. Student loan debt in aggregate, an unsustainable bubble of government inspired debt mania, has sky rocketed over the last 10 years nearly 400 percent. The total student loan debt is now nearing 1 trillion dollars with over 10% of that in default or delinquency and much of the rest teetering on collapse.
The government makes these loans available to all manner of students attending a wide variety of schools. Many of these loans are extended to students paying exorbitant tuition rates to traditional non-profit schools rewired and then transformed into “paper mills” or to a whole new category of for profit schools many with even more exorbitant tuition rates and seemingly in indirect proportion to the value received.
Students pay excessively high tuition rates for watered down curricula at a plethora of institutions offering degrees that don’t meet the smell test when compared to the value associated historically with the attainment of a 4-year degree. Many students even after graduation struggle to properly read, write, or do arithmetic as would be expected of a fully educated graduate of a traditional university.
Many profit and non-profit educational institutions are drinking at the government loan spout while at the same time “dummying down” the path to a degree. Government money is fueling the demand and the corresponding tuition inflation is creating a student loan bubble of catastrophic proportions. Many employers no longer value these degrees unless they are from certain very high-level schools; the kind of schools that even student loans from the government can’t cover.
Indentured servitude is a good metaphor for what is happening with the student loan fiasco; this is a truly abusive system that takes advantage of those with high hopes and trying to improve their lives. At least an indentured servant, historically, could learn a craft or a trade that was with them for life; what are these folks getting but membership in a new class of debtor?
With the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 student loan debt public or private is no longer dischargeable in bankruptcy court. Many of our younger citizens now carry their student loan debt around with them like the proverbial, “ball and chain” looking for a job from employers many of whom no longer value the degree. What is next? Will they bring back a “debtors prison”?
Our once very fine university system has been severely damaged by this phenomenon. Not all loans are bad and not all schools are “paper mills” but the trend is clear and this will end badly unless this system is rehabilitated.