Forty years ago, I walked into an office as a 21-year-old college student, where a woman, barely older than me, asked a few questions and then handed me a check for $4,000. I suppressed the urge to ask her if she was crazy.
I didn’t really need it. I had no job prospects, so my ability to repay it was sketchy. I was really only there because a friend told me how easy it was to get a student loan, and I couldn’t believe it. Also, it would be nice to have $4,000, although I don’t think a penny was spent on my education.
But don’t judge my experience against the 45 million people who have racked up $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. When I was in school, tuition was maybe $500 a semester, and most, if not all, was covered by a Pell grant. Today, tuition and fees at a public university are over $21,000. Loans are no longer optional.
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I paid off my loan, which was small enough that I could make additional payments and be done with it in a few years. So – should I be angry because I, as a taxpayer, will be paying off other people’s loans?
I’m not, but if I were, I wouldn’t be mad at the students. I would be angry with adult academics who have stopped seeing higher education as a mission to train and inspire young minds, and have started to see it as a money-printing machine.
You don’t have to be a grumpy old cynic or bug-eyed conspiracy theorist to see a straight line between schools and lenders – both of whom are rewarded for making higher education unaffordable.
And these are the legitimate colleges. What about all the poor students who have been sucked into de facto usury factories masquerading as private schools, whose “degrees” aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on?
Republicans want to investigate Dr. Fauci. Better to bring in the presidents of universities and banks and make them sweat by explaining their convenient and profitable relationship.
We have a tradition in this country of making people who have been wronged whole. If someone is injured in a car accident that is someone else’s fault, we agree that that person should be compensated, even if it means higher insurance premiums for the rest of us.
We collectively pay for poor medical outcomes, corporate pollution, wet floors, faulty products, and frivolous allegations of voter fraud. Los Angeles County taxpayers will indirectly pay the tab for $31 million awarded to Vanessa Bryant and another man whose shattered bodies of family members were photographed by first responders following a car accident. helicopter and shared with bar buddies.
Additionally, the New York Times recently reported that a home owned by a black couple in Maryland was valued at $472,000; when the house was designed to look like it belonged to a white family, it was appraised at $750,000.
When people talk about reparations to African Americans, it’s not so much for the actions of our white ancestors in the first half of the 1800s. It’s for unjust retention – through housing, an education, a job, discriminatory investment opportunities – huge amounts of wealth that black people would have been entitled to had their skin color been only white.
So no, I don’t mind that young people get debt help. What bothers me is that this does not deter the sewer rats of the higher education and financial cartels, who will continue to operate with impunity – raising tuition fees, forcing children to s ‘in debt and not offering them jobs and income that gives children a prayer to repay within a reasonable time.
These parasites will continue to bleed students dry, not just during their college years, but for decades after. How many University of Alabama grads are struggling under tens of thousands of dollars in debt so the school can throw $11.7 million a year at its football coach?
Today, universities and their financial cronies are the 21st century equal of the company store in the coal towns of the 1920s. Empower graduate students to earn an income, but make sure they spend that income not for houses, cars, or anything productive, but for interest payments.
Of course, everything will fall apart once it becomes clear that you can get a better education on YouTube than you can at Harvard. Too bad so many bad actors can lag behind until reality sets in.
Tim Rowland is a columnist at the Herald-Mail.