If you borrow money you have to pay it back. Terence, this is stupidly silly and obviously true stuff.
The fact that a bunch of overgrown children, who have no conception of debt, income, payback, interest, etc. are given access-on-demand to state-guaranteed dollars does not excuse their ignorance, but it definitely explains it.
We might as well complain that 12 yr. olds, if given the keys to the car, crash it way too unacceptably often. Of course they do.
And yes, we can reasonably speculate that if …somewhere in their 12-13-14+ years of prior education… they had been taught basic personal economics (as in: this is money, it’s used to buy things; if you borrow money to buy things you will be required to pay it back PLUS MORE), then maybe fewer fools would be wandering about with 6-figure debt loads they absolutely cannot handle while learning how to make nice patterns in coffee foam.
But more critically, the fault lies with the full-grown adults who give them the keys to the car AND the combination to the vault with only a wink & nod. We imagine all the loan officers with their crisp straw boaters, laser pointers, and big grins, shouting-out at every passing rube: ‘Step Right Up…see the 6 legged cow and get a bushel basket of $100 dollar bills….for a guar–an–teed, top-notch, big-payback, Kollege Education!”. What 18 yr. old wouldn’t make that slickly sold choice?
Is any of this actually surprising?
When Obama proudly proclaimed way back in 2009 that the Goal for America was a doubling of college graduates (requiring a ridiculously inconceivable inflation of standing college enrollments to 40M kids)….when federal dollars poured down to fill the higher education coffers….when every mother’s son & daughter was told that COLLEGE was the Golden Ticket, the passkey to the ‘large automobile, the beautiful house, the beautiful spouse!’…can any of us actually be ‘shocked, shocked!’ that 13 years later we find the massively uneducated carrying massively impossible debt loads in exchange for which they hold a handful of ‘magic beans’ called degrees in Women’s Studies, Education, and Gender Dynamics? (Can we get some fries with that?)
So yes, education — re: the facts of life — would definitely help, but that education must begin with the breakthrough insight that not only is College NOT for everyone….but the lack of a college education will not prevent the attainment of a good life. Equally it’s long past time that the ‘dollars-on-demand’ policies (necessary to feed the 40M fever dream) must end. Hurdle rates must be established and tied to records of proven academic success and commitments to achievable payback.
In the end, it’s not the small print on the loan agreements which has caused this slow-motion college debt tsunami, rather it’s the blind faith in the idiot notion that a degree in Diversity & Racial Equity (to name but one example) is a smart investment, with a big payback, well worth the trip to the local Loan Shark…who is more than glad to come visit the 30 yr. old Starbucks baristas and make them payment schedule offers they cannot refuse.
Kansas City, Missouri