Life, Deferred: Student Debt Postpones Key Milestones for Millions of Americans

By Natalia Abrams, the Executive Director of Student Debt Crisis, and Cody Hounanian, the Program Director of Student Debt Crisis. Originally published at openDemocracy

Student debt has been solely responsible for the majority of my decision-making as an adult
(Erin – Portland, Maine)

The student debt crisis is not the burden of a single generation. It impacts Baby Boomers in their 60s and 70s; Gen Xers in their 40s and 50s; Millennials in their 20s and 30s – as well as Gen Z high school students still planning for college. Thus it’s a grave mistake to frame student loan debt as exclusively or even primarily a “Millennial problem.” At the same time, Millennials have borne the brunt of the astounding rise in college costs. They are the first generation to experience a life shaped by the near-certainty of student debt.

Weighted for inflation, college costs (including tuition and fees) rose 81% between 2001 and 2009 – the decade when well over half of Millennials graduated high school.

Traditionally, when the price of a commodity rises rapidly, demand for that commodity drops. Necessities like food and shelter are usually exempt from that general rule. However, college has become one of those essentials, with the perceived cost of not attending growing at least as fast as the actual costs themselves. As a result, student loans make the essential, attainable.

Not everyone saddled with a tremendous debt burden ends up with a degree. Whether a borrower receives a degree or not, few are in a position to rapidly repay their student loans. While a college degree may or may not expand opportunities; as we’re finding, student loan debt absolutely shuts doors that might have otherwise remained open.

Lower Homeownership rates

Growing up I was told by my parents, teachers, and guidance counselors to go to college because it would give me a better life. I graduated in 2013 with a Master’s Degree in English with the hopes of being a teacher myself. There are no teaching jobs in high schools or colleges and I owe over $100,000 in student debt. I now work a job that doesn’t even require a degree, and was turned down for a mortgage because my debt to income ratio was too high. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about my debt
(Danielle – Roseville, California)

If homeownership is fundamental to the ‘American dream’, then student loan debt puts that dream out of reach for millions of Americans. After years of growth, homeownership rates noticeably declined in 2017. While partly due to factors unrelated to student debt (such as rising housing prices, particularly in urban areas), the rate of Millennial homeownership has fallen faster than that of the general population.

In a January 2019 study, the Federal Reserve revealed the connection between lower homeownership rates and the Millennial generation most burdened by student debt: “our estimates suggest that increases in student loan debt are an important factor in explaining (young people’s) lowered homeownership rates.” The study went on to conclude that “a little over 20 percent of the overall decline in homeownership among the young can be attributed to the rise in student loan debt. This represents over 400,000 young individuals who would have owned a home in 2014 had it not been for the rise in debt.”

While the Federal Reserve study focused on the decade between 2005-2014, a 2019 survey by Bankrate of nearly 4,000 American borrowers found that 31% of Millennial respondents postponed buying a home because of student loan debt. By comparison, when the Baby Boomers were entering the housing market 40 years ago, only 15% delayed a purchase because of student loan debt.

It’s also worth noting that the real number of Millennials unable to purchase a home because of student debt is likely much higher. While 31% of Millennial respondents reported that student debt directly delayed homeownership, this figure only accounts for potential buyers who still consider future homeownership a real possibility. Thus it does not reflect the unknown number of those whose debt to income ratio is so high that they don’t expect to ever afford a home. As Forbes notedin 2019, “no matter how many possible solutions are tossed around Washington and beyond on reducing the crushing burden of student loan debt, it remains one of the top reasons millennials are putting off buying a home.”

Historically, home mortgages defined middle-class debt. Yet due to pre-existing debt, student loan borrowers face difficulty qualifying for a mortgage. In tandem with rising housing prices, and stringent mortgage qualification requirements adopted in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, those with already exorbitant levels of student debt face a near-perfect storm for obtaining a mortgage: placing a key component of the ‘American dream’ out of reach for millions of young Americans.

A 2018 study by Summer and Student Debt Crisis found that 56% of respondents reported that student loan debt made it more difficult to buy a home. That figure excludes those who consider homeownership so unattainable that they have preemptively “given up.” The same study notes that 58% of those surveyed experienced a decline in their credit score as a direct result of their student debt. Credit scores, based on past payment habits as well as debt-to-income ratios, are pivotal to mortgage qualification. Even borrowers who haven’t yet considered buying a home are keenly aware that their student-debt-burdened credit scores have put a mortgage out of reach.

Fewer Marriages

I have put off having children, marrying, or purchasing a home due to the high costs of student debt repayment. Regularly, I contemplate selling everything and living in my car to help free up money to pay off the debt sooner.
(Melissa – Granbury, Texas)

Homeownership is not the only dream deferred, or abandoned altogether, because of crushing student loan debt.

One theme in the stories we’ve collected – and in our studies – is that student debt is an overwhelming factor in declining marriage and birth rates. Millennial borrowers like Melissa, regularly told us that there were three central dreams that debt had put out of reach: buying a home, getting married, and having children.

In 1990, 26% of adults under 65 were never married – by 2018, that number rose to 36%. Today, only one in five adults are married before the age of 30 – and the average age of first marriage has risen by more than six years since 1960. There are a host of factors that have driven the marriage rate to record lows – and we do not suggest that student debt is the sole (or even primary) driver of delayed marriage. Evolving and elevated expectations for romantic partnership, economic shifts, greater equality for women and increased acceptance of premarital sex all play critical roles in changing marriage habits. One cause of social transformation however, doesn’t negate the impact of another.

Student loan debt delays marriage in several ways. One way is through a sheer misunderstanding of the law regarding debt. Several borrowers told us they were reluctant to marry and “make my spouse responsible for my debt.” Though the laws concerning spousal responsibility vary by state, the fears of saddling a partner with one’s debts are not unfounded. Similarly, if a spouse with pre-existing debt returns to school after marriage, both the debt incurred before and during marriage gets lumped together as a shared liability.

Practically, the legal responsibility for the liability is a nominal matter. Most couples cannot simply isolate one partner’s debt. The money spent each month on student loans could be collectively used for other essentials, like rent, car repairs, or childcare.

A study released in June 2019 by the think-tank Demos showed that those who start college after age twenty (or go back to college following a break) have a particularly hard time paying off loans. Twelve years after leaving school, the average borrower (who started college after the age of twenty) will have paid off only 5% of their student debt. If a borrower is determined not to bring their student debt into a marriage, research suggest that they will have to wait a very long before they wed.

Media coverage tends to ignore that finances, rather than changing social mores, are the primary driver of diminishing marriage rates. For every young person who “never wants to marry”, statistics suggest there are far more who would like to wed someday but can’t imagine ever being able to afford to do so. A Pew Organization study in 2017found that nearly six out of ten unmarried American adults hope to marry someday. That same report noted that unmarried Millennials cited “not being financially stable” as one of the chief reasons why they haven’t yet wed. 41% of those unmarried cited financial instability as a primary reason for remaining single, while 28% described it as a “secondary” reason. (By comparison, only 24% of young adults named “not being ready to settle down” as the primary explanation for not being married.)

The research is clear: the primary reason why Americans delay wedlock, or forego it altogether, is financial insecurity. Debt is reshaping our most intimate relationships, putting a profound source of happiness further and further out of reach.

Falling Birthrates

My wife and I have been married 3 years and she desperately wants kids. But paying out $350 a month to pay off my 45k in loans has shattered our dreams of family. We both work but it’s not enough. I’ve paid my loans since 2004 and I’m not getting ahead.
(James – Kansas City, Missouri)

With less homeownership, along with fewer marriages – it’s hardly surprising that the most debt-laden generation in history is also having far fewer babies than their parents and grandparents. Millennials are on track to have a lower birth rate than any generation in American history. In 2018, the overall birth rate in the United States fell to 59 births per 1000 women, the lowest on record and a 2% drop from the previous year.

The birth rate has fallen steadily since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. Yet even after the recovery, the birth-rate continued to decline.

There’s a disagreement as to whether the birthrate decline can be attributed to women wanting fewer babies (or wanting them later), versus women being unable to afford children. Yet the survey data is fairly compelling: most young people have had (or expect to have) fewer children than they consider ideal. In a 2018 New York Times/Morning Consult survey, four of the top five reasons respondents cited for not having as many children as they wanted focused on financial concerns:

  1. Child care is too expensive (64% of respondents)
  2. Want more time for the children I have (54%)
  3. Worried about the economy (49%)
  4. Can’t afford more children (44%)
  5. Waited because of financial instability (43%)

Furthermore, a 2015 study by the National Institutes of Healthexamined the impact of debt on the decision to have children. The results were stunning. While mortgage holders were more likely than renters to have children, and credit-card debt had no impact among debtors, the study found that “holding student loans more significantly affects fertility at higher levels of indebtedness.” Low levels of student loan debt reduced fertility only slightly; high levels of student debt sharply reduced the chances of having a baby.

Every generation reassesses priorities. Some pundits look at the lives of Millennials and conclude that they’re simply less interested in homeownership, simply more suspicious of enduring monogamy, simply less interested in having children. The evidence shows that’s a false narrative.

The research in fact reveals that a high percentage of Millennials want homeownership, marriage, and children. The chief obstacle is not the timeless problem of finding the right person, but financial insecurity. Student loan debt is a central driver behind this precarity – affecting the fundamental milestones of our lives.

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48 comments

  1. Freshstart

    I hear the phrase “student loan forgiveness ” quite often these days. “Forgiveness” for being a victim of financial predators and a failed leadership class? No, that’s not forgiveness. That’s justice. Forgiveness comes from the victims, not the perpetrators. Personally, I’m not forgiving anybody involved. Politicians, schools, the “financial industry”, etc. These are the folks that should be begging for forgiveness from the borrowers, not the other way around. These policies have destroyed lives. They then try to frame any corrective action as doing the victims a favor, “forgiveness”, rescuing the borrowers from their own failures and poor choices. Right. This is basically a war on the poor. I wonder if it isn’t a way to curb greenhouse emissions without inconveniencing the wealthy.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      Excellent comment — thank you! Let us never let our fellow Americans forget Joe Biden’s central role in killing bankruptcy protection for student debtors.

      Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Extremely perceptive and wise comment.

        I also think your final point is very important, as I am increasingly convinced that “environmental footprint reduction” is likely to be used as a pretext for further austerity for the working class. Environmentalism has always been a mostly elite and middle class phenomena, and working class interests are often unmindfully ignored or disregarded. In fact, I don’t think it’s unduly paranoid to anticipate ostensibly radical environmentalists (Extinction Rebellion and the like) being used as cat’s paws to extend Overclass policies of extraction and control.

        Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          It’s already happened in France – the Gilets Jaunes movement was a direct result of the radical neoliberal Macron government putting higher taxes on diesel – a regressive tax on the poor and rural working class.

          Reply
        2. bmeisen

          No, penury and exploitation as a result of educational debt is not a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions without inconveniencing the wealthy. It’s just another example of Americans being suckered by their own delusions and ignorance, just another example of wealthy Americans, many of whom are rich without being educated, ripping off poorer Americans, many of whom ernestly believe that going into long-term crippling debt in order to pay for a college degree is a good way to get up and out of living from week to week with maxed out credit cards.

          The typical American university/college student has drunk the kool-aid. She believes that higher education is a personal choice, freely made, to invest in earning potential. The possibility that this is not necessarily the case apparently does not occur to her. She genuinely believes, or sometimes she is compelled to believe, that it makes sense to take on for example 100k in educational debt because the degree that should follow will allow her to earn a hopefully large multiple of that number. Such students and their parents are apparently blind to the fact that a country that struggles to defend a primitive form of democracy is doomed to dystopic horrors without an educated population. Education, including higher education, is not a personal choice alone – much more it is a national mission that compels the government to provide instruction to qualified candidates at a minimal cost to candidates. This is a not a utopian vision – this is reality in democracies that are not as primitive as the American.

          The attempt to associate the diesel tax with French educational policy needs clarification: The French have free public higher education. Their free public higher education consists of institutions that are selective, some highly selective, as well as institutions that are not selective. The selective institutions are intended to provide a nominally meritocratic elite-building function at the service of both public and private beneficieries. Public transport infrasturcture is weak in the country, and the Gilets Jaunes (GJ) argue that that’s becasue administrators and mangers, many of whom are graduates of tuition-free elite universities, have not only failed to improve it: they threw salt in GJ wounds by attempting to impose a diesel tax. Though for many the tax is a tax-deductable expense, there are enough economically non-rural residents of rural areas in France to make the salt really sting. The GJ should more aggressively criticize the meritocratic fallacy of (highly) selective public institutions and bring attention to the phenomenon of economically non-rural residents of rural areas. They are relatively heavy polluters (lots of driving, single-family homes). I wonder if public transport infrastructure in rural areas could be expanded or if economically non-rural residents of rural areas could be compelled to live in less isolation.

          Reply
      2. juliania

        The most repressive and draconian indebtedness has been thrust upon the youth of America by its government. I say ‘youth’ because many of those suffering under this burden were young once but have struggled long enough to be middle aged and even beyond in the search for a quality education, not only so they could have a good job but also in order to develop their minds. This was not a foolish pursuit – – until it was.

        Something has to be done about this. And if it has to be done, it will be done, to paraphrase what Professor Hudson has said: if a debt can’t be paid it won’t be paid. And also lest we forget, these neoliberal shenanigans came about as financiers figured they could layer everything into juicy offerings for the players on Wall Street. Tranches or trenches as with mortgages – you know, like layers of filo dough with yummy stuff sandwiched in between. (Hah, my spellcheck doesn’t like the word ‘neoliberal’. Phooey on you, spellcheck; it’s a word!)

        Thank you, Yves.

        Reply
        1. bmeisen

          Hasn’t been thrust upon the youth of America by its government – the student debt crisis is a result of predatory financial interests consorting with ignorant, anti-government ideologues to corrupt the wise support of state and federal governments for public education. Private non-profit as well as private for-profit “educators” have lobbied lobbied lobbied for example to expand government lending facilities for students while doing little to regulate the “institutions” that were convincing candidates to use the facilities to borrow funds to pay for the questionable degrees that the “institutions” were awarding. There should have been a major cultural effort to convince Americans that we need public education including virtually free higher education and to contradict the delusion that an investment in higher education was essentially an investment in earning potential. Free public education including effectively free public higher education is essential for the success of democracy. Sadly many Americans have forgotten a fundamental aspect of the American Way of Life.

          Reply
      3. JohnnySacks

        Brother in law couldn’t make the payments, went underground and worked for cash, then ultimately committed suicide in his 50’s. Not saying he wasn’t unstable to begin with, but will say that having a mountain of debt he was never going to be able to get out from under certainly was a major factor.

        With an 81% increase adjusted for inflation in under a decade, why aren’t schools being penalized? Why not stop writing any and all loans for those schools?

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Schools WILL be penalized, by going out of business .. as many surely will !! .. especially the ones specializing in SJW studies …

          Reply
    2. Medbh

      That’s an excellent point. I had burdensome student loans and eventually paid them off, but I support student loan forgiveness. However, from a political standpoint, I understand why some people are angry about the concept. They think they were smart and chose not to go to college because of the financial danger, and if loans are forgiven, they’re being “punished” in the housing and job market for being “responsible.”

      Your “justice” framing could address both of these interest groups. Instead of just looking at the student loans alone, we’d consider all the ways in which the loans and the degrees have influenced people’s lives. Maybe everyone could have access to “educational credit,” which could be used to directly pay off existing loans, allow people to enroll in a degree program now, or be credited towards a new or existing mortgage. The program becomes a universal benefit, and depending upon one’s situation, the money could be used in different, socially beneficial ways.

      The main point is I like the “justice” framing, and it should be used to create a program that benefits everyone. Then the messaging is more about rectifying a dysfunctional system, then bailing out irresponsible spendthrifts (I don’t believe this is true, but that is how loan forgiveness is framed).

      Reply
      1. Joe Well

        How about the government takes over all consumer debt and charges only the Fed rate in interest? And writes down any amount considered unpayable? Would anyone not connected to the financial industry be opposed?

        Reply
      2. Big River Bandido

        The arguments against student loan forgiveness on the basis of “I paid mine off, why can’t you?” are short-sighted and ultimately injure the person making them.

        Everyone is harmed by the toxic environment of debt that we’re living in — even those of us who never had student loans and those of you who paid them off. We are all suffering under a regime that has paralyzed people economically. The act of debt cancellation, as those whose incomes were locked up now get a little piece of it back to spend on other things, would have a stimulative effect on the economy.

        Reply
    3. Tyronius

      We can start holding those responsible accountable by refusing to support Joe Biden for office!

      The key is to tell everyone, including poll takers, the reason why we won’t vote for him.

      I graduated in 1995 and I’m still over $65k in debt. I’ll vote for any politician who will fight to redress this injustice.

      It’s time Washington fights for We the People instead of the already outrageously wealthy.

      Reply
  2. timbers

    I work with a lady who’s only child entered college last year, and was exposed at work to her discussions with her daughter over the phone and with co workers what is on the list she choose for her student loans. Things like room and board/rent, etc. This lady has a killer personality that works smashingly well in corporate offices – only positive things may be talked about and she juggles her aging, ailing mom, her daughter off to college, and work quite well.

    It wasn’t my place to offer advice, but I got a bad feeling listening to the load up of student loan debt. Then I overhead her advice to her mother regarding what package from Comcast to get. She recommended the package for seniors with insurance that protects seniors from phishing and that sort of thing. I don’t recall the fee, but she also has insurance for her smart phone screen.

    The $$$ signs of how I could manager their budget and save them some money where dancing in my head.

    I guess they call that being a Financial Advisor today. It used to be called common sense.

    When I was with my former, much younger partner, I told him he would live free with me on condition he cut back his 60+hrs/week working at multiple Dunkin Donuts and go to school, take NO school debt and pay everything with his paycheck. He did, and got tax credits on top of that. He choose medical billing and coding at a school that has since gone bankrupt. But it got him in the door. He is now supervisor in the billing department at Boston Children’s Hospital and they told him they are sending him to management training at their expense.

    He too has a killer personality. Perfect for Facebook where only positive things are said. He will do well but I worry he will later be not so well off because he doesn’t save, he spends everything he has.

    My first year at University of Chicago undergrad was $4,000. Second year $5,000. Then I moved to Boston and my employer paid most of my school expense while I finished up at Northeastern University. Peanuts compared to today.

    I would never pay for College education at todays prices. I’d take that same money and buy a house.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Insurance for a smartphone screen? Yeesh!

      And I say that as someone who just dropped a smartphone face-down on a hardwood floor.

      I’m here to say that my screen protector, which cost something like 30 bucks, did its job. It took one for the Arizona Slim team and cracked in several places. The screen was intact. Hooray!

      However, the replacement protector doesn’t stick, so back to the phone repair shop I go. While I’m there, I think I’ll strike up a conversation about the right to repair. Hey, I might just be able to turn another person on to Naked Capitalism.

      Reply
    2. JohnnySacks

      I’d say that a robust course in home economics would be valuable in public schools. But I’m guessing our owners would heavily attack that effort.

      Fact is, if you want to have any professional career, an education is mandatory. I don’t want my nurse practitioner or doctor to be the likes of the Trump children simply because they’re the only ones who will be able to afford the education, same as all economics, political science, law etc. workers to only be the ones who can afford it. Sort of insures that our future leaders won’t have any clue whatsoever about the lives of the 90% they’ll be claiming to support. A crappy situation made even worse.

      Reply
  3. Joe Well

    The author claims that college costs (that term is not defined) rose 80% from 2001 to 2009. That is far higher than any figure I have seen. According to National Center for Education Satistics, the figure for tuition+fees is closer to 30% which is still outrageous. If the descrepancy means that aid is being cut back more or non-tuition/fee costs are increasing faster, that would be good to know. Defenders of high prices claim that aid is increasing (I doubt that but do not have figures).

    Anyway, #freecollege

    Reply
  4. Arizona Slim

    Good discussion topic. Permit me to share a little tale from the Arizona Slim file:

    As mentioned here before, I am learning the Russian language. After completing all 30 lessons in Mark Thompson’s “Russian Made Easy” video series on YouTube, I decided that it was time for some classroom training.

    So, off to look at the University of Arizona website. I couldn’t easily find any information about enrolling as a non-degree student, so I sent an email to the department where I’d be taking an intro Russian class.

    Reply: In order to become a UA non-degree student, I would have to complete an online application. And pay a $45 application fee.

    Nyet.

    Instead of paying the UA 45 bucks just to apply, I could spend that same money on a vocabulary builder course, which is taught by a native Russian speaker. From her home in Moscow, she has built a global business as a language teacher. So, look out, Real Russian Club, here I come. Link:

    https://realrussianclub.com/

    Reply
    1. anonymous

      Arizona Slim, take a look at the free Russian language courses on Coursera.org. I’ve taken excellent Italian courses on EdX, but Coursera looks better now for conversational Russian. (EdX has a couple of classes on Russian for scientific work.) With foreign languages, the more practice and exposure, the better, so maybe Coursera could be useful in addition to your vocabulary builder course.

      Reply
    2. hirsute_logic

      May I suggest the history lectures on Youtube of Prof. Andrey Fursov (Андрей Фурсов) from МГУ. He posts his university lectures regularly and has utterly riveting research to share on Russian and Soviet history.
      He speaks very clearly and in a close to conversational style, so even if you don’t understand everything it’s worth listening to.

      Also, the Russian series “Neophyte’ (Отличница) on Amazon Prime is amazingly good and entertaining and with English subtitles. Check it out.

      Reply
  5. David Carl Grimes

    I was wondering about the kids and parents who pay full freight for college. Can that cost ever be recouped? Even for top colleges? For instance, financial aid at Harvard maxes out at $110K in household income. So a high income family will have to pay full sticker price every year. Tuition and living expenses could be $70K per year or more. So a four year education could cost $280K to $350K. It’s like buying a house in many parts of the country without buying a house. Yet the median salary for a Harvard graduate is $90K ten years after entering school (six years after graduation). If college costs are paid back in ten years, the college graduate will have to pay back $30K every year, on top of everything else. Not much left for savings, retirement, or a house. Even for Harvard College graduates.

    Reply
  6. Shiloh1

    I love these articles. At no point is it ever questioned or addressed why cost of college has gone exponential relative to the real economy (taking out real estate and healthcare) since the late 1970s,

    It is because “financial aid”, especially loans, spends the same as cash. The colleges will charge what the market will bear, Econ 101,taking account the new money those loans bring into the picture, driving up the price. Colleges have no skin in the game for repayment / default of loans.

    Sorry, but I am cool with the whole system collapsing into itself and my bank account sitting this one out.

    Please spare me the club med, lazy river, climbing wall stories. FULL DISCLOSURE: I went to Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, a garden spot of the city between 31st and 35th and State Street off the Dan Ryan Expressway in the late 70s. The place is a bigger dump now when I went there, full salute to the Mies Van Der Rohe flat roof glass shoe boxes and the post WWII housing project-like dorms.

    Reply
      1. Eudora Welty

        A friend invited me to lunch at the cafeteria in the university dorm building. Lunch was $11 50, but all-you-can-eat with a gourmet style, nice China tableware. I had pizza, hamburger , pasta al fredo, pudding, cookies, salad, soft drinks. Great opportunity to gain weight & spend $$$!

        Reply
    1. jrs

      well also probably due to both the decimation of the non-college job market, and credential inflation (a degree now being required for jobs it didn’t use to be). of course college grads are now overproduced relative to demand as well.

      Reply
  7. Synoia

    I have some advice for the young with Student debt, as I have some acquaintances whose children have huge debts $400,000 to $600,000..

    Emigrate. Don’t look back.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Here’s an educational experiance one can endeavor : Enter your local thrift/antique establishment/yard sale/dump, etc. … and pick an item – any item .. and figure out how to rebuild/repair/make serviceable said item. Presto ! THERE’S your future, waiting in the wings of regression !
      Not a bad place to be actually .. beats high penury, no ?

      Reply
    2. Chris

      What could you possibly do in college to accumulate that much debt??? Unless we’re talking med school you’d have to insane to sign on to any kind of loans in that amount.

      Reply
  8. inode_buddha

    My paleo-conservative dad likes to point out that student loans existed before the government started backing them. He took out a very large loan in 1950 to attend MIT in got his Masters there, PhD at SUNY Buffalo in 1970. He paid it off in 1985. Back then lending standards were based on reality and job market projections. When I went to school, all you had to do was fog a mirror… Then in the 1990s prices started doubling and tripling, etcetc…. Answer is to ban the government from backing loans, full stop.

    Reply
      1. Chris

        I’m fine with both ideas provided we also kill the admin positions and the people who want resort level facilities at a campus for the students. The federal backing of this project has not helped our citizens. It’s time to stop.

        Reply
        1. Joe Well

          The admin layer is quite the Gordian knot. Those are mostly stable, living wage union jobs AND mostly BS jobs. What is a progressive to do?

          Reply
  9. chuck roast

    I have a bunch of hoops to jump through for that!
    Here’s what my hoops look like:
    One of them cancels $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000.
    Another hoop provides substantial debt cancellation for every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000, so, for example, a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation. Pick you hoop!
    I also have a non-hoop, hoop that offers no debt cancellation to people with household income above $250,000 (the top 5%).
    For most Americans, cancellation will take place automatically using data already available to the federal government about income and outstanding student loan debt.
    We also have a moving hoop…private student loan debt is also eligible for cancellation, and the federal government will work with borrowers and the holders of this debt to provide relief.
    And our final hoop. Canceled debt will not be taxed as income.
    E. Warren (the Hoop Queen)

    Reply
  10. Joe Well

    Does anyone else find the idea that parents should pay for, and therefore have veto over, their adult children’s college, offensively infantilizing?

    Reply
    1. jrs

      Well unless full room and board is paid for, that’s how it ends up being though? I mean free tuition is simply not going to solve this, because how to pay for a roof over one’s head while going to school?

      1) live at the parents home and go to a nearby school, sure a bit infantalizing 2) get the bank of mom and dad to foot the dorm costs again mom and dad paying 3) take out debt for living expenses.

      Haha, no you usually can’t afford housing on or off campus (renting a room) with some low wage job!!! And if you had the capacity to get a well paying job without a degree (or other training) you might not be pursuing one anyway. Since a large number of students are homeless (actually true here, shocking numbers), I guess that’s also an option.

      Reply
  11. shinola

    I’m surprised, this being NC, that no one has mentioned this yet – student debt is a modern form of indentured servitude.

    While it does not directly tie the indebted (former) student to a single employer, it provides potential employers with leverage in regard to wages & working conditions. Quite simply, someone with a large debt hanging over their head is more likely to accept a job with lower pay, fewer raises and/or benefits than some someone who is debt-free and therefore can afford to be more picky, more demanding to be paid & treated decently.

    Get ’em in more debt at an earlier age so they will be more docile and accepting of neoliberal crapification.

    Reply
  12. Anthony G Stegman

    At the same time it has become vastly more expensive a college degree has also become watered down and of less value. That is the true injustice. Many jobs that once required only a high school education now require a college degree. This is not because the job requirements have changed. This is due to the simple fact that many more people possess college diplomas, so employers now demand them for a greater number of occupations. However, the pay for these occupations has not risen to be commensurate with the additional costs incurred to gain the newly required credentials. Now these holders of costly credentials find themselves in a real bind. The author of this article offered no solutions.

    Reply
  13. Bob Hertz

    We need a battery of solutions to this horrible problem. I have suggested and documented the following:

    1. Make bankruptcy much easier
    2. Forgive all loans when the borrower reaches age 65
    (as in England)
    3. No repayments due until a borrower’s income reaches $40,000
    (as in New Zealand)
    4. Increase Pell Grants to $10,000 a year
    5. Cut back on loans to liberal arts programs
    6. Encourage industries to fund vocational education.

    It will cost money to correct the injustices that have been done….

    Bob Hertz

    Reply
    1. Chris

      I’m not sure about many of those options. I honestly believe that the best solution to the current issues is taking all federal funding away from options to attend school unless you’re below a certain income level.

      No grants to states for education. Increase the Pell Grant amount but decrease those eligible. No more federally backed loans. In fact, no loans at all above a certain level of interest. Make all schools with endowments and trusts spend a certain amount every year or else pay taxes. Starve the best is poor solution for all the problems it’s discussed as being an answer, but in this case, I think it’s the right approach.

      Get back to professors, simple classrooms, research, and educating citizens. Let the admin class wither and die. Then we’ll see college costs come down. Until then we’re just subsidizing someone’s greed.

      Reply
  14. Bob Hertz

    I think that Pell Grants should be available more widely and also be larger.

    The middle class kid who wants to be a machinist or a medical billing specialist does not need four years of collage, but they do need vocational school or some professional training. If they and their parents have not saved for this, they could be stunted economically.

    Now, one could say that parents who do not save are bad actors, and we should not rescue their kids. I cannot endorse this level of Darwinism.

    Any extra spending on vocational schools and/or Pell Grants can in effect come out of vastly reduced amount of student loans that you and I both agree on.

    Reply
  15. Keith McClary

    “Some pundits look at the lives of Millennials and conclude that they’re simply less interested in homeownership”

    Are those the same pundits who say Millennials are not interested in owning cars?
    ——————————————
    Title should have been:
    “Student Debt Millstone Postpones Key Milestones for Millions of Americans”

    Reply

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