Tuesday, March 11, 2014

If you do not change directions...

In all things of nature...

Artwork courtesy Heron Dance
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Obscene Student Loan Debt -Whose fault is it?

If I borrowed all of the money that VISA is willing to loan me on just two credit cards, I’d be in debt to the tune of almost $55,000.

How much do I owe VISA?

Zero. Zip. Zilch.

I pay off my balance every month. Just because I CAN borrow obscene amounts of money, doesn’t mean that I do.

This same logic of fiscal responsibility is mostly absent when it comes to student debt. What makes the headlines are stories of graduates who have racked up debt loads that could take them a lifetime to pay down. The subtext to this, which isn’t usually discussed in polite company, is that often much of that debt doesn’t pay school expenses, but rather supplements a lifestyle. Where else but the federal government can you get such a low-cost loan with virtually no credit-check?

Working in higher education, I myself have been on the receiving end of more than a few phone calls from irate students, who having learned that their stipend (money borrowed in excess of actual education costs) was going to be delayed for a week, accused me of personally ruining their family’s Christmas, child’s birthday, or long-awaited vacation. I’m pretty sure most of us can agree that the "living expenses" portion of federal financial aid isn’t meant to be used for a 10-day Caribbean cruise.

Now, to be clear, students who have maxed out on their student loans aren’t doing anything wrong. They’re legally entitled to borrow what they qualify for, and there are probably a few who can justify the extra debt-load as an investment in themselves that will pay off in the long run. But as we continue the national discussion on graduates who have little hope of paying off their student loans, we need to add to the dialog that just because you CAN borrow obscene amounts of money, doesn’t mean that you should.

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.