By: Khalil Boggs
Many young adults dream about going to college. They imagine the class lectures and great parties, amazing friends they will meet, and enjoying the independence of having free time. However, they do not stop to think about how much debt they will have once they graduate. According to statistics released by the White House about the student loan debate, most college students end up in debt–71 percent of students graduate from college with about $29,000 of debt. What’s driving students into debt? Congress? Banks? Colleges?
In the early 1990s, the average tuition for a public and private four-year institution was roughly $5,243 or $13,237 per year. By 2011, the prices became $15,918 or $32,617 a year. That is a major jump in the span of 20 years. With these prices, students are taking out extremely large loans just to stay in school, which has motivated President Barack Obama to try and enact his loan forgiveness initiative.
A Twitter user had a conversation with President Obama. Her name was Caitlin. She responded to the initiative: “Seems to me like an attempt to put a band-aid on a broken leg.” She asks,”What are we doing to actually lower the cost, so these loans will no longer be necessary.” She makes an excellent point. Yes, student loan forgiveness is a great idea and could potentially help millions of people, but what are we doing to stop this vicious cycle? Students go to school, take out a loan, graduate, their loan gains interest, and yet they still cannot get a job and are still stuck with the burden of these payments.
Why are students in so much debt? Banks lend money and collect payments. If colleges were still relatively low, would we even need loans? Colleges aren’t charging students an “arm and a leg” they are charging an arm, leg, kidney, liver, and your brain.
Colleges are facing more pressures to raise tuition due to larger pension, higher healthcare and technology costs. But the administration’s plan to lower education costs could change the face of education. Obama’s plan for lowering costs has been the use of competency based degrees. Instead of awarding credit based on how many credit hours a student has it would be based on how much a student can prove they know. If they pass a test with a certain score they can get credit for the course. There is an initiative called Pay as you Earn, and as you earn the credits, you pay them off. Congress is standing in the way of these proposals. They have not passed the bills necessary to make these things happen.
In fact, Congress is looking to double the interest rate on student loans, making them more than seven percent. In addition, banks(Bank Rate) are making subtle changes to policies that would put students in more debt.
While larger banks are more reluctant to lend to students, credit unions and community banks are more than willing. Sometimes they will approve a student for a personal loan and not a private student loan because the personal loan does not offer the same payback protection. The idea of a student loan is to prevent students from taking out more than necessary, a personal loan can be approved for any amount. Allowing students to rack up debt. So another question is brought to the forefront, are banks doing this on purpose to get more money out of us, the students. So with Congress not approving bills to lower college tuition, and looking to double interest rates, what are students to do? Students have no control over what happens.
In a country where a college education is almost mandatory to get a good job and make a decent living, it sure is getting harder to afford. While we continue the student loan debate, ask yourself, who is to blame? Colleges for these price hikes, or big banks, which are shelling out cash for education? I say it is a strong combination of both. Colleges are getting to highly unaffordable rates, and banks are over lending purposely to unsuspecting naive students.