Higher education reform advocate George Leef was correct in his analysis of the relationship between student debt and rising tuition. He wrote the June 8 commentary in the News Tribune, “Should colleges just eat defaulted student loans? No: Holding schools responsible won’t reduce loan defaults.”
More recently, author Vicki Alger’s June 17 op-ed in the News Tribune (“Should a college education be tuition-free?”) extended concrete facts about the costs of post-secondary education, showing the direct relationship between rising tuition and easy-to-get loans.
My generation (boomers) did not have easy access to loans, nor did our economically smart parents encourage going into debt. I completed a two-year degree at a state college with help from my childhood savings account and relatives. My wife had a partial scholarship and paid for the rest of her education in earning both bachelor’s and master's degrees. We have both seen how folks behave, on campuses, if they have no “skin in the game,” or personal investment in their education.
Not everyone should go to a four-year university. Education is big business in America; it spends millions each year promoting itself. We have become a nation of education snobs, discounting the young people who go to work right after high school and demeaning or ignoring our wonderful system of two-year colleges and trade schools and our ever-shrinking apprentice programs. Shame on us!
If you want to collect the high cost of a four-year education, make parents co-sign all student loans. That’s the first step. Common sense tells us there is not one child entering college who has the collateral needed for loans. Too many parents think their kids should go to expensive colleges and encourage the debt.
Also, take the government out of loan programs. In the past, if there was need, we could apply for grants or non-loan help. It would cost us much less, as a nation, to have a minimal government grant program, where need is proven.