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$1 trillion.   That’s the amount that the Millennial Generation has been saddled with in student debt.  Yes, that’s an unfathomably large amount of money.  It’s more than all Americans owe on our cars and trucks, and on all of our credit cards (both of which are declining).   But year after year, student debt is rising as college gets more expensive and state governments reduce their investment in education.  Not going to college is not an option either—just look at the unemployment rates for college graduates (3.9 %) versus high school graduates (7.4%).

Making payments on that debt can be crushing.  Just look at the payments my wife and I are facing—more than $800 per month for the minimum payments.  And that’s with paying our own way through grad school (which is more and more necessary to stand out in the crowd).  That’s $800 per month we can’t spend on housing, or having a baby, or travel, or food and dining out.  That’s $800 a month in interest being sucked out of the Vermont economy and into the bank accounts of Sallie Mae.  Multiply those monthly payments across millions of Millennials, and we’ve got a problem on our hands.  

Now, this debt burden is affecting the economy as a whole, from the auto market to the housing market.   First-time homebuyers are buying fewer homes—representing 30 percent of all homebuyers today, compared to 40 percent before the recession.  In fact, if you’re 30 and have student loans, you’re less likely to own a home than someone without a college degree.  This is spilling over into car ownership as well—the percentage of 25-34 year olds owning cars has been consistently declining.

But there is a solution that will allow us to work our way out of this generational hole, by partnering with those who benefit most from the fruits of our education—our employers.

Every payday, I’m faced with a choice: do I put money in my 401(k) to save for retirement, and get the company match, or do I pay off my student loan debt and leave money on the table?  Right now, it’s no contest.  Congress has said that employees can contribute tax-free earnings to their 401(k), and employers follow Congress’s cues.  But wouldn’t it make more sense for me to pay off my student debt now and save for retirement once I’m in the clear?  After all, standard student loan interest rates are 6%, year-in, year-out.  Paying them off guarantees me a 6% return, compared to the risks and vagaries of a stock market that is largely beyond anyone’s understanding.  

But what if we gave folks with student loans another option similar to the 401(k)?  What if I were able to contribute pre-tax dollars toward paying down my student loans, and then my employer matched my contribution?  In my family’s case, that would mean an extra $3,300 every year going toward reducing this burden.  

We have the perfect vehicle for making this happen.  It’s called a 529 Savings Plan—which allows parents to save for their children’s college, tax-free.  Already, Vermont and 34 other states offer state tax credits in addition to the federal tax credits.  But there’s a catch—you can only use 529 Plans to pay for new tuition, room and board, books, or other qualifying expenses.  You can’t use it to pay for tuition, room and board, or books that you paid for with loans.  If Congress added in two simple words—“student loans”—to the list of qualifying expenses, they’d instantly opened up a whole new source of private capital as we work to pay down this burden.   Companies would have another benefit to recruit young talent, and young workers would be able to finally start getting ahead.  

As Congress debates student loan interest rates this week, they should remember that it’s not just about the interest rates—a more important question is how we’re going to pay down the student debt altogether.  Opening up 529 plans provides a simple way to do just that.

Originally posted to conantd on Mon Jun 03, 2013 at 07:39 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting idea. It might be a good "cafeteria (17+ / 0-)

    option" for a benefit, I suppose, if this were possible.

    I do agree with you, that this level of student debt is unsustainable. The only reason I am not still paying mine--an exorbitant amount of money--is because I was diagnosed with advanced cancer. Permanent and total disability is just about the only way to get out from under, and honestly it's not a strategy I recommend.

    What I think we really need is a jubilee.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Jun 03, 2013 at 08:07:50 PM PDT

    •  so sorry peregrine kate. nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aspe4, llywrch, peregrine kate

      Republicans only care about themselves, their money, & their power.

      by jdmorg on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 05:55:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A jubilee is the only reasonable answer (12+ / 0-)

      And it needs to be combined with full funding of higher education. My entire generation has been screwed by a generation of politicians who got free or cheap highly subsidized educations. I have more than twenty grand in loans and I am not planning on paying them. 41% of students who graduated in 2008, the year I did, are either delinquent or defaulted on their loans. What we are seeing is a de facto debt strike already going on.

      The "fiscal conservatives" have gutted government under the guise of not burdening future generations with debt and the result has been to burden this generation with an absurd amount of debt. And now we have a democratic super-majority in California and they still aren't acting to fund schools at an appropriate level. At this point mass action seems to be the only solution. A student strike and a debt strike in solidarity with each other. The goal being a debt jubilee and a fully funded education system.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 08:48:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  if you are not planning on repaying, then there's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk

        really no need for a jubilee, is there?  

        Unlike a car, they can't repossess your education.

        You know you're in Oregon when you only see people using an umbrella to protect themselves from the sun.

        by Keith930 on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:31:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not paying up (0+ / 0-)

          To the Rethuglic loan sharks is a tricky nd difficult business.

          I will pray AoT keeps his kneecaps.

        •  If it were just about me then you'd (0+ / 0-)

          Be right. But this is about a lot more than just me. This is about freeing people from oppressive structures. We're talking about a generation that is going to live substantially less well than they otherwise would because of this debt.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 10:15:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm so sorry to hear that. :( (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate, AoT, ladybug53

      (offers a hug if it would help)

      •  Hugs are definitely welcome! Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53

        And I haven't forgotten about our plans.... ;)
        How about next week?

        Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 11:37:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lets try a different type of loan (15+ / 0-)

    I would like to propose a different type of loan.
     It would be federally financed and administered.

    The loan would be for tuition and books only.
     The loan would be granted at a zero interest rate.

    The loan would be paid back yearly over your lifetime as part of your income tax filing. The rate of repayment would be proportional to your income. Big dollar earners would be required to pay it back more quickly, and lesser earners would take more time. There would be no escape from repayment such as bankruptcy etc. Yearly repayment collections would be simplified since it would be part of your income tax filing.

    The loan would be a pact between the individual and society.
     Society (the government) makes the loan available, and the individual repays it as they are able it over many years.

    The scandanavian countries provide student tuition and even a stipend for living expenses. They believe that it is an investment for the good of society.

    We as the wealthiest country should be able to provide a zero interest loan for education and consider it a good investment in the future.

    Right now the federal reserve is making loans at virtually zero interest rate to the big banks. We can provide the same financial help to students, stimulate the economy and recover the funds over decades.

    Educational loans should not be a profit making industry for the banks and government.

    "Humankind cannot bear very much reality." - T.S. Eliot

    by fixxit on Mon Jun 03, 2013 at 10:40:14 PM PDT

    •  You just hit on the one issue (10+ / 0-)

      that will cause Republicans to spit venom - I'm not talking about the general GOP pop I'm talking politicians.  

      should not be a profit making industry
      They feel everythign should be profit making industry.  Now the GOP voters - they are a mixed bag so the GOP message will have to be about socialism or freedoms or unmentioned shades of peoples ripping us wholesome folk off or Benghazi! or something.  But the real issue and the only one that matters is that there must be someone making a profit.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 06:55:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Student Loans at any rate are a Loser. My solution (4+ / 0-)

    is to keep my children out of the U$A Educational Beartrap and have them attend an ASEAN university. Yes, on average they are probably only 3/4 as good as comparable U$A schools, but at one tenth the total cost, it would be irresponsible for them to impoverish themselves and their parents for a chance at a job. They will graduate debt free with an airline ticket and a grub stake to any country that will accept them. This is our new American Dream. And there are 3 Internationally respected universities here for slightly higher tuition. This is the color of their parachute. Times they is a changin'.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 02:21:10 AM PDT

  •  Interesting take. I like it. (5+ / 0-)

    It doesn't make sense for people to be investing in a retirement account while still having student loans. Many employers already offer tuition reimbursement in some form or another; this would reward those employers and/or encourage other employers to participate. Make it so that the employees and employers barely have to do any more paperwork than they would for a 401k and it seems like a no-brainer.

  •  Resist the temptation! (5+ / 0-)

    Progressives need to resist the temptation to hand out benefits/relief/bailouts to current student loan debtors.

    Why? Because it is a transparent giveaway to the the middle and upper classes. Poor families won't get to benefit because poor kids didn't go to college.

    Making it a tax-deduction is even worse. A Wall Street Guy paying of his MBA gets s 35% benefit from his high bracket. A freelance music teacher paying off her MFA degree gets much less because her tax bracket is lower.

    We need to keep focused on traditional Progressive goals: Raising the taxes on the wealthy and on capital gains, creating jobs, and providing more government benefits that help all income classes.

    I realize that the Diarist is in a squeeze -- but that squeeze should be solved by job creation so his wages rise and healthcare reform so his expenses fall.

    A specific benefit just for the college-educated isn't fair to those who didn't get to go to college.

    •  Old saying... (4+ / 0-)

      Don't let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good.

      If I understand correctly, the 529 plan is already a tax-subsidized plan that will benefit primarily the upper and middle classes. Your using the example of the Wall Street trader to scuttle talk of opening up the 529s to student loans sounds too much like the rationale for disallowing bankruptcy of student loans; one senator somewhere found one example of someone abusing the bankruptcy and so now everyone has to be burdened.    

      The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing, the polls tell us how the media is doing.

      by Thumb on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 06:16:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amen, but... (0+ / 0-)

        Perhaps a Tax Credit at a flat per cent would be fair, and help all.  Tho the rich benefit slightly more , having less need, there is something closer to equity.

        I also think employment in non-profit services, like teaching, city planning, public health, military, government services, should be good for partial repayments.  The argument that this hurts for-profit employers could be addressed by offering a partial reimbursement to employers who pay off student debts.

    •  I started out recing this diary b/c I (10+ / 0-)

      sympathize with the predicament of the diarist and his spouse.

      But I also see the absolute logic behind your post and the unfaiirness of allowing tax deductability for student loans and the goald of extending benefits to all income classes.

      Here's my question to you, though: we have an immediate problem right now today, with millions in the same predicament as this diarist. What solution do you propose to ameliorate their situations? Or are they supposed to labor under $800/'month student loand payments until after 2014 (at the earliest)?

      And, by your logic, shouldn't the home mortgage interest deduction also be eliminated, as it also favors the middle and upper classes?

      •  We need to keep focused... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CharlesInCharge, lotlizard, Aspe4

        ..on the big picture.

        We need to not deviate from the goals of progressive taxation and higher wages. The Diarist needs a raise, not a bailout.

        If we hand out benefits, they should be things like healthcare, primary/secondary education, and government services. These are things that nearly everybody takes part in.

        And yes, we need to reconsider the mortgage deduction. I am in favor of encouraging home-ownership, but making it a deduction skews the benefit to the rich too much. That is a topic for another Diary, though.

        •  I would like to see all student loans placed in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, radical simplicity

          a 5-year deferment (where no interest accrues and no repayment is due), so that folks like the diarist can get their feet beneath them without this latest version of indenture hanging over their heads and hobbling their lives. During that 5-year deferment period, Congress could and should get to work to figure out some way to relieve Millenials of this onerous debt burden.

          I actually also think post-secondary education should be a universal benefit for all, such that no one should have to go into debt to finance a college education. Of course, that would require a complete reordering of our societal priorities, something I have grown quite skeptical of seeing in my lifetime.

          •  But how can we sell... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk

            ...that to the guys who didn't go to college?

            I can see the need for something to help future college students. But please, no giveaways to those who have already been privileged to go.

            •  I get it, trust me. I'm merely trying to think (0+ / 0-)

              of ways to help citizens who were sold a bill of goods, to wit, "go into massive debt for an education b/c the good job you get will more than justify it." Total Madison Avenue bullshit and unbefitting a mature liberal democracy.

          •  We are incapable, as a society, of (0+ / 0-)

            any longer establishing priorities, let alone reordering them.

            Establishing priorities infers that competing interest groups can make compromises and allow one groups goals to get a higher place in the line than they.  Nobody is willing to do that anymore.

            And politicians know this all to well.  When a country of 150 million individuals screams in both unison and discord:  What about ME??? .......it's no wonder they tune out and listen to the man with the checkbook in hand.

            You know you're in Oregon when you only see people using an umbrella to protect themselves from the sun.

            by Keith930 on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:43:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Access to education helps *all* classes (3+ / 0-)

      And in a nation where education is so critical to the well-being of society, loans and the "punishment mentality" toward those in default really have no place.  

      The players that would be hurt by a jubilee would be banks.  

      What a pity.

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:08:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A "jubilee" is off the table. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk

        By jubilee, I'm assuming all debts are canceled.

        If you do that, nobody will ever loan anyone any money ever again. Who wants to risk taking the fall for a "jubilee"?

        It would be a bad thing if people had to pay cash for their houses.

        •  A jubilee would be tough to get (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen, Ramoth, fuzzyguy

          But it is far from off the table.

          If you do that, nobody will ever loan anyone any money ever again. Who wants to risk taking the fall for a "jubilee"?

          Which is why you couple it with fully funding education.

          It would be a bad thing if people had to pay cash for their houses.

          We're talking about student loans, not housing. Completely different subject. One of the possibilities of a jubilee would be to have secured debt be reduced to the principle and put everything paid so far toward that, or in the case of homes have it reduced to the value of the home.

          A student loan and credit card debt jubilee would be very useful.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:29:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Any actual solution is going to be off the table (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          84thProblem, Tom Anderson, fuzzyguy, AoT

          with this President and this Congress.  Doesn't matter what the issue is.  

          Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

          by Big River Bandido on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 03:10:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  One can use tax credits (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, k88dad, Tom Anderson

      instead of tax deductions.

      The percentage problem also applies to mortgage interest deductions.

    •  I hear your concern (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard, Chi, ladybug53, Tom Anderson

      Thanks for the comment and response, ManhattanMan.  While I'm normally against using the tax code for incentives, for exactly that reason, I think this is a bit different. The tax benefit here is almost a side benefit--the goal here is to free up private capital for paying down the debt quicker.  

      Ultimately, we need to find a way to actually pay for higher education altogether--I completely agree.  This isn't the endgame.  But this is a quick, simple change using an existing program that could do a world of good.  That's why I proposed it.  

    •  People who have money don't get student loans (9+ / 0-)

      And the idea that poor people don't go to college is just absurd. Poor people are the primary recipient of student loans and other types of student aid. You're simply wrong here, flat out wrong.

      I'm not a huge fan of this idea, but your assumptions here are just not correct.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:31:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you really think the upper classes aren't paying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      clear SKies, ladybug53, 84thProblem

      tuition? It's the middle class that is stuck with the burden,
      the midde class that 'spurs industry' etc....and from where I come from,the middle class is just above the poverty level

      “The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

      by soaglow on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 01:26:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So, to avoid giving a gift to the 0.01% you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT

      advocate the continued screwing of the 99.99%?

      To be fair, I pay over $1k/mo on my student loans. I make a good living, but I'll never make the 1% cut (unless my MegaMillions ticket wins tonight!)

      -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

      Why must we struggle to protect the accomplishments of Democrats of the past from Democrats of the present? -- cal2010

      by 84thProblem on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 08:30:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You misunderstand. (0+ / 0-)

        Forgiving student loans doesn't help the top 1%.

        Forgiving student loans helps the top 70%.

        It's the bottom third that gets screwed in these "loan forgiveness" schemes because poor people are so much less likely to go to college.

        •  I don't think I misunderstood, though perhaps (0+ / 0-)

          there is miscommunication.  Why is it a bad thing to help the vanishing middle class? I say, 'let's give a hand to the middle class, though it might also send a fraction to the upper class'. You say, 'let's not help the middle class because it doesn't do much to help the the lower class'.

          Please forgive my over-generalization wrt 'classes'; the point becomes lost in the rhetoric otherwise.

          -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

          Why must we struggle to protect the accomplishments of Democrats of the past from Democrats of the present? -- cal2010

          by 84thProblem on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:30:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't like it because... (0+ / 0-)

            ...it looks bad.

            It's a bailout -- and it's a bailout of people who knew what they were getting into.

            Imagine a guy who couldn't afford college, so he took a job as a roofer. He gets home, hot, sweaty, covered in (carcinogenic) roof tar. He turns on CNN and hears, "Obama bails out struggling Poetry majors!"

            That is not how to win elections. It's also unfair.

            •  This isn't a bailout (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not suggesting a bailout at all.  This wouldn't wipe the debt clear, it would just give employers a way to partner with their employees to pay it down faster.  All the principle is being paid back, and the government is still earning money on the interest.  

              The only subsidy/benefit would be the tax reduction by using pre-tax dollars--just like we do with 401k plans now.  But ultimately, that's a bit of a side point--the goal is to influence businesses so that they'll begin helping pay down the debt too.  This isn't a bailout--it's harnessing private capital in the absence of public investment.

  •  We still need to address COSTS. (19+ / 0-)

    Nobody has been able to explain to me why it costs $200,000 for a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, English, History, or Philosophy.

    Especially when half the freshman year is often a copy of stuff that should have been learned in High School.

    The dorms are too fancy, the football stadiums are too big, and there are too many Assistant Vice Deans of "Student Life" on the payroll.

    Getting more money for higher education will be politically easier once we get the costs down.

    •  it's the grandaddy of all vicious cycles (7+ / 0-)

      for some reason that completely escapes me, americans have bought wholesale into the toxic notion that education has no intrinsic value, but is only a stepping stone to employment.  college and learning should not be degraded so; nobody needs a goddamn degree to do office admin work.

      so there's all this pressure to go to college, and so everybody does.  that requires expansion/facilities upgrades, especially with all the "competition" for tuition dollars.  that requires mucho dinero.  

      then, because everybody and their idiot frat brother has a degree, employers get lazy and use a bachelor's as a weeding mechanism for jobs that couldn't pertain less to the degree in question.

      lather, rinse, repeat.

      the Millennial Generation has chosen to take on student debt
      fixed.  pursuing college and its attendant debt is a choice people make.  it really is.  the sooner people stop buying into the "you need a degree to have a job" bullshit, the sooner colleges move away from being businesses and back to institutions of higher learning.  

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 05:21:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am with you on this one. (8+ / 0-)
        ...americans have bought wholesale into the toxic notion that education has no intrinsic value, but is only a stepping stone to employment.  college and learning should not be degraded so; nobody needs a goddamn degree to do office admin work.
        Not that it matters anyhow. How many administrators do you meet, who actually remember anything from their college days?

        If we collectively remembered the lessons of the Humanities---i.e., History, perhaps we wouldn't be dead set on repeating the Great Depression NOW.

        •  My college education opened up so many (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, Cedwyn, Whatithink

          opportunities for me, not because I went to college 'de riguer' but out of my own passion for learning...not every field of work is substantiated by a 'degreed' person...but when it IS, it matters.

          “The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

          by soaglow on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 01:39:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, that is wonderful, but judging a person's (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn

            value as a worker, almost entirely on whether they have a degree, and where it's from [how much they paid for it] is just classism.

            It's not great indicator of innate intelligence, or even aptitude. It simple proves among most that they persevered, and that they were able to acquire the cash to do so.

            If the masses receiving a college education were supposed to somehow lift us up culturally, we would be in flying cars by now, brokering genuine world peace. The outcome, however has only been increased, and unnecessary poverty, re-institution of what is basically an moneyed aristocracy, and an increase in the gap between the super-wealthy and the working poor.

            That is a supremely stupid waste of resources, minds, lives, souls, and it does nothing to better society at all.

            Education without some kind of meaningful ethical instruction is simply arming the assholes.

            And putting it out of reach, while posing it as a way to end personal poverty, when in reality the opposite is true, should be classified as cruel and inhuman punishment.

            I loved college. I was very good at it. However I am not going to put a second mortgage on my home to get it, when I can just as easily do directed readings at home.

            I thought for a while, my dream would be to become an adjunct professor while I raised my family. After seeing what happened to friends who graduated and did just that, I feel sad I wasn't able to get those degrees, but thankful I am not saddled with debt and degrees that have been made essentially worthless by what amounts to an army of what I can only describe as Vogons.

            It's sick.

            What will we pass on to our subsequent generations? Isn't it obvious?

            The cost of everything and the value of nothing.

      •  From a cold-blooded economics point of view, one (7+ / 0-)

        can even make the argument that the very existence of unsecured student loan programs available to anyone irresepctive of their repayment abilities is one factor that has allowed the price of higher education to outpace inflation by a statistically significant amount each year over the past 20 years.

        Choke off the student loan pipeline and suddenly college snd universities will have to scramble for a much smaller pool of total student $$. Would result in massive displacement of unemployed academics (bad!) and adminsitrators (not so bad! :) Even so, though, eliminating the student loan program or sharply curtailing its scope bears some scrutiny, I think.

      •  It is far from just a choice (4+ / 0-)

        When you grow up with literally everyone you know telling you that you'll be nothing if you don't go to college and get a degree then it sure a fuck doesn't seem like a choice. Of course, now that my generation has these degrees we've got all these people telling us otherwise. Convenient that everyone waited until after there was a student debt crisis to bring this up.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:14:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  $200,000? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard, ManhattanMan, k88dad
      Nobody has been able to explain to me why it costs $200,000 for a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, English, History, or Philosophy.
      This may be the cost at the nation's most expensive colleges, but average in-state tuition is more like $8000 a year.
      The dorms are too fancy, the football stadiums are too big, and there are too many Assistant Vice Deans of "Student Life" on the payroll.
      I think it's sad that dorms are being transformed into upscale luxury accommodations.  Not only is it unnecessarily expensive, but it is elitist, and gives incoming students a dangerous picture of college as less like work and more like a 4-year land cruise.

      I suspect that the luxury of college digs contributes to indebtedness not only because of cost, but because the idea of working a job through school seems more foreign, and more outrageous, to someone who is sold this ideal of college as a yuppie getaway.

      That being said, you can split an apartment with friends, so this aspect of the cost of college can be contained if it gets too high.

      Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

      by Caj on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:26:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are right... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk

        ...state schools are cheaper.

        But the Diarist is paying $900/month. At a 5% interest rate and 15 year payoff, that's over $100K in debt.

        Somebody needs to hold that school accountable for that $100k pricetag.

        A 17-year-old kid comes to you looking for knowledge and guidance and you stick him for $100k? That is just wrong.

        •  Clarification (3+ / 0-)

          To be clear and fair, that $800-$900 per month is for both of us combined.  There are some folks who get stuck with more than $100K in debt, but I've been seeing more in the $40K to $50K range like us.  

          The problem is that the lower-middle class folks slip through the cracks.  Richer kids can have their parents pay for college outright, but those of us who don't get full rides end up getting stuck with mountains of debt.  

      •  At those tuition rates (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53

        and including living expenses you're looking at around 40k at graduation, assuming you make it out in 4 years. Not 100k but nothing to scoff at either.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:08:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Grants? Scholarships? (n/m) (0+ / 0-)
        •  $40k... (0+ / 0-)

          ...is not insurmountable debt.

          If you get out of college making $50k you can knock that out in five years by pretending you make $40k.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 04:36:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  40k? That's far above the average for (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fuzzyguy

            Most degrees, at least starting out. And that's for people who can find a job at all. That's the other side of this whole conversation that gets left out with proposals like this diary.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 10:31:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re (0+ / 0-)

              If your first job out of college with a given degree makes less than $40k you really have to evaluate whether to go to college at all, at least for that degree.

              I like history too. I pay for history books and read them on my engineering salary.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 12:41:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Given current conditions (0+ / 0-)

                It doesn't make sense. I'm saying we need to change current conditions. A job making leas than 40k a year is perfectly acceptable unless you think current tuition is reasonable and that people should owe a lot of money after graduation. Unless you can tell me why people should owe a lot of money then you're just saying you're fine with the status quo and nothing more.

                If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                by AoT on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 02:30:59 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  The cost of educating students (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch, k88dad

      has not risen significantly. The two drivers of increases in the cost of educating students, what the school pays not the tuition, has been executive/administrative pay and healthcare costs. I don't mean the people working in the offices filing and such, I mean the consultants making way too much money.

      But the costs haven't significantly risen otherwise. What has happened is that funding has consistently been cut. Restore that funding and we'll see a decrease in tuition. If Jerry Brown wasn't a giant sell out then he would have been pushing that here in CA. I don't know what the situation is in NY, but the Dems are doing nothing here. Absolutely nothing.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:11:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's only true for public universities (0+ / 0-)
        But the costs haven't significantly risen otherwise. What has happened is that funding has consistently been cut. Restore that funding and we'll see a decrease in tuition.
        Private schools have exploded in price as well, and they had no funding to be cut.

        Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

        by Caj on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 07:12:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tuition for private universities has not (0+ / 0-)

          Increased anywhere near the amount that public schools have. Here in California community college tuition has increased by about 400% since I graduated high school in '95. I don't know what the numbers for state universities look like for that time period, but I do know that if I had started a 4 year degree when I graduated in 2008 I would have owed about twice what I actually do based on tuition increases.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 10:44:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you have data for that? (0+ / 0-)

            Tuition at Princeton university went from $5000/year to $25000/year between 1980 and 2000.  It is now $40,000.  

            It seems to me that private tuition has skyrocketed quite a bit over the last two decades.  In fact, it's the exploding price of private tuition that has made it politically possible to cut subsidies for public tuition.

            Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

            by Caj on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 04:09:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary. People are choking with (9+ / 0-)

    their educational loans. My Plus loan interest rate is 7.9% right now! I have $600 + every month paying for our child's college. My husband 65 and it is tougher and tougher to cover this payment every month on less income. I work but haven't had a raise in 3 years. Last time I asked my boss for a raise, he screamed at me and pounded his fist on the desk and said, "we are not talking about this today!"
    Ugh it is psycho out there today, employers do not care about their workers even though we produce the profits and wealth for them.

    Republicans only care about themselves, their money, & their power.

    by jdmorg on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 05:53:24 AM PDT

  •  Here's a proposal: Real high schools. (9+ / 0-)

    I often poll my students about what they think of the American way of financing college. I suggest what is roughly the Scandanavian system, which is that university education is free.
         But they change their minds when I elaborate that a student has to qualified by examinations and high school records. They think that's unfair.
         Te British have been debating simply charging college grads a higher income tax rate in order to finance higher education. IMHO, that would be a good approach.
       But the real problem is that the high school diploma has lost its value as a credential. It has been replaced by the Bachelor's as a minimum requirement.
      We need high schools that do real college prep and also do real vocational training.

    •  There's no such thing as a high school that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, soaglow

      "does real college prep" and "real vocational training".  

      In Europe there are both, but they are generally separate institutions.

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:11:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Student loans in Britain (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, radical simplicity

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Interest rates on pre-2012 loans are designed to ensure that there is no 'real' cost of borrowing, as they are linked to inflation. For pre-1998 mortgage-style loans, the interest rate is set each September, based on the RPI the previous March (for 2011/12 this was 5.3%). For Plan 1 ICR-style loans (taken out between 1998 and 2012), the interest rate is the lower of either the Bank of England base rate plus 1%, varying throughout the year, or the RPI measure of inflation, which does not vary throughout the year as it is fixed from the value of RPI in March (for 2012/13 the Plan 1 interest rate is currently 1.5%, i.e. base rate of 0.5% + 1%).[19]

      For loans taken out after 1 September 2012, and due to enter repayment April 2016, interest will accrue on the loan at the rate of RPI plus 3% (i.e. these loans are no longer 'free in real terms') until they become eligible for repayment (i.e. the April after graduating), at which point it is planned to apply a progressive rate of interest dependent on income. The rate will range from RPI for those earning up to £21,000 per annum, up to a maximum of RPI+3% at a salary of £41,000.[24]

      Loans taken out for courses that began after 1 September 1998 but before 1 September 2012 are repaid under the so-called 'Plan 1' variant of an income-contingent repayment (ICR) scheme.[20] Repayments do not begin until the April after graduation or leaving a course. Thereafter, repayments are fixed at 9% of gross income above a threshold of £15,000 per (tax) year (for 2011/2012, equivalent to £1250 per month or £288 per week).[21] Repayments are usually taken directly at source, via the PAYE system and so can vary monthly or weekly, depending on the yearly amount the gross earnings for that period equate to, in relation to the threshold. Repayments continue, depending on income, until either the loan is paid off, or the customer (as debtors of the SLC are termed) reaches age 65, dies, or through disability becomes permanently unfit for work, at which point the loan (plus any interest) is cancelled.[21] For loans taken out after 1 September 2006 (but before September 2012), the loan is cancelled 25 years after the April when the loan first became eligible for repayment (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; for Scotland it is 35 years), as opposed to at age 65[21] (this is potentially beneficial to young, low-earning graduates, but apparently penalises mature students). The current threshold of £15,000 has been in effect since 6 April 2005. From 6 April 2012, new regulations come into effect that will see the threshold increased in line with inflation (as determined by RPI, the Retail Price Index). The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have confirmed that from 6 April 2012 the threshold will rise by 5.3% to £15,795.[22]

      Loans taken out for courses beginning after 1 September 2012 (which will be much larger due to the increase in tuition fees) will be repaid under a new 'Plan 2' variant of the ICR scheme.[23] Such loans would not be due to enter repayment until at least April 2016. Under this scheme, repayments will also be calculated as 9% of gross income, but above a larger threshold of £21,000, which is also due to rise in line with RPI, from April 2017. Under Plan 2, loans are cancelled 30 years after the April in which they become eligible for repayment.

    •  High schools are not the problem (0+ / 0-)

      A high school diploma has lost its value because there are more college graduates. Meanwhile, there aren't enough positions for all of those college graduates. The result is holders of four-year degrees working as car rental clerks.

      The solution is better trade policy. My most recent position went to India. I will begin a third career next month. That's right—I said third career.

  •  Sure (5+ / 0-)

    But, let's simply have a generous scholarship for each student who is qualified to go to college and do away with the debt. That way, we can compete with other countries where the public funds these institutions and provides university free to the students.

  •  This is a fantastic idea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    white blitz, Whatithink

    The Student Loan Lobby is as powerful as any other, but I can't even see those bastards opposing this.

    My student loans are extremely cumbersome, this would be a great way for me to manage them.

    Thanks for this

    Call your representative and senators and the white house (lack of capitalization intended) to STOP this crazy warmongering with Iran, please.

    by Indiana Bob on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 06:10:09 AM PDT

  •  IBR folks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soaglow

    Look it up.

    It solves a lot of problems for people with guaranteed student gov't loans.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 06:40:42 AM PDT

  •  Have you written to anyone with this idea? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch, ladybug53

    Like in congress, or a letter to the editor? Sounds like a good idea.

    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." -- JC, Matthew 6:24

    by Chi on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 06:44:20 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for the encouragement! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch, ladybug53

      This was my first post about the idea, and I'm using it as a springboard to launch the conversation.  In particular, I've been talking with my Vermont delegation (Rep. Welch has expressed interest).  If you could pass it along to your Rep/Senator offices, or local colleges, that would go a long way toward getting this to take off.

      Thanks Chi!

  •  Interesting idea, but do see ManhattanMan's (0+ / 0-)

    compelling arguments against such an approach on the grounds of its unfairness to the lower classes.

  •  trades one crisis for another. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT

    Even if people can do this,
    the debt burdens are far too great to be handled.

    So, say they pay these off after 20 years,
    they are 20 years behind on retirement savings,
    on saving for a house, having kids.

    really the system is dealing with a crisis, at best
    your approach kicks the can down the road a few years
    making it worse.

  •  Army does it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova

    Just go get shot at.  Your Student Loans will be repaid.  Course, you don't get to be an officer anymore with a degree.

    See NOW, you have to have perfect credit as well.  Since you have student loan debt, you are a security risk, and therefore you'll just be an overeducated grunt.

    /snark

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:03:58 AM PDT

  •  I do disagree that not going to college (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch

    is not an option. (Wow, that's a lot of negatives!)

    Anyway, unless you have a career choice that requires an advanced degree, you have a choice:

    1. Not go to college; get a low paying job.
    2. Go to college, rack up enormous debt, then get stuck in a low paying job with $30,000 in debt that you can't discharge in bankruptcy.

    For most people, the answer is to skip the college, unless you can get a free ride scholarship.

    (The real answer is to fix the whole college financing problem with proper funding--state colleges should be tuition free to state residents. But that would cut into tax breaks for the One Percent and we can't have that.)

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 08:09:32 AM PDT

    •  Many construction trades pay well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pale Jenova, ManhattanMan

      My former neighbor, who is a contractor, paid a Russian immigrant subcontractor $4.50/square foot to install ceramic tile.

    •  College should never be free, (0+ / 0-)

      but except for degrees required for licensing (nursing, medical, legal, teaching) a student shouldn't get into debt for more than $5,000/year.

      College education is valuable and like other valuable things adults want it should carry a cost.

      Degreed and licensed persons such as nurses and doctors can pay more than $5,000/year for their education since a registered nurse in the Northeast USA can make $70,000/year or more and a doctor can make over $150,000/year.

      •  Why not? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ramoth, ladybug53, fuzzyguy

        It was free here in California for a long time.

        And 5k a year is a lot of money. Why is it good for people to go into debt. Society has a vested interest in educating people and we all win when there is good and affordable public education. What you're suggesting would basically mean that poor people have it the hardest yet again and the middle and upper classes would have a real shot at education.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:18:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There needs to be an incentive for (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          students to study seriously.

          We taxpayers don't want college to be just a four-year date & mate place.

          •  So then all those people who went for free (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cosmicvoop, ladybug53, fuzzyguy

            before weren't serious? I mean, we've had free schooling before, or schooling that is far less than 5k a year. If you think that only money will make people take things seriously then you probably aren't going to understand why we need people to go to school. The rich and middle class will coast through with their tuition paid by their parents and the poor will, as always, end up in debt.

            And when you're in school I can honestly say that student loans are not at all a motivator. I never thought of them at all. If we priced schools such that student could still afford to pay their own way with a part time job then it might be an incentive, but even then basing who goes to school on merit is a much better plan. The people who work the hardest in high school are likely going to be the ones who work the hardest in college. Plus, if you don't work hard enough you do in fact get kicked out. You can't just coast by with shitty grades forever, unless you're rich likely.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 02:43:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In Germany (0+ / 0-)
              Some take the minimum 4 years, most take 5–6 years, some may even spend 10 years at university (often because they changed subjects several times). After 13 years at school plus maybe 1 year in the armed forces, graduates may sometimes be almost 30 years old when they apply for their first real job, although most will have had a number of part-time jobs or temporary employments between semesters.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/...
          •  But we have that problem now (0+ / 0-)
            We taxpayers don't want college to be just a four-year date & mate place.
            There are a lot of students who treat college that way today, who do the bare minimum to meet curricular requirements and don't understand why they can't get a job after walking out with a 2.0 average and a mostly blank resume.

            Conversely, a lot of students understand that their future rides on how much they learn and how well they do, and that partying for 4 years is going to result in them going back to Starbucks.  That is to say, even if college is free, people have an incentive to study seriously.

            Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

            by Caj on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 07:17:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  A modest house can easily cost (0+ / 0-)

          a few hundred thousand dollars in California.

          A fairly nice house in metropolitan London can easily cost the equivalent of about $1,000,000.

          There are new condos in Arlington, VA near Washington, DC selling for $600,000.

          The median single family home price in Fairfax County, Virginia was around $530,000 a few years back.

          •  And your point? n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fuzzyguy

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 02:46:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The debt cost of education (0+ / 0-)

              is generally a small percentage of what you will face with housing.

              My housing/education debt ratio was 17 to 1.

              There is a time in life when everything you get is paid for by others (childhood).

              As you turn into an adult it becomes time for you to begin paying.

              As an adult, you will not only pay for yourself you will need to pay for your own children AND to pay taxes to pay for social goods such as roads AND for strangers unable to pay their own way due to disability or illness.

        •  "why is it good for people to go into debt" (0+ / 0-)

          It gives an employer confidence that you'll come to work reliably.

          The dedication needed to work hard steadily for four years was the major reason employers liked college graduates.

          Add a pile of debt and the employer can feel confident he can work you harder.

          Debt also gives the federal government a steady stream of tax revenue from the jobs that you need to pay it off.

          •  Wow, so you fully support (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cosmicvoop, Ramoth, fuzzyguy

            people being forced to work. I don't think we have anything to discuss if you think this is a good thing.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 02:53:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think it was snark --eom (0+ / 0-)

              And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

              by Pale Jenova on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:06:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  That's called debt peonage n/t (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cosmicvoop, 84thProblem, fuzzyguy

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 02:54:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  NO, it does not! (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, Ramoth, 84thProblem, fuzzyguy

            "It gives an employer confidence that you'll come to work reliably."

            No, it doesn't.  This is nothing more than right-wing masturbational corporate cheerleading nonsense from the hardest scrabble of Wingnuttia.

            Employee debt does NOT make employers "confident" that any given employee will come into work reliably.    

            If this were the case, employees with huge amounts of debt would be prized commodities in the hiring process.  We all know that the opposite is true.   Google the phrase "denied a job employer credit check student loan debt" and read the stories of people who were offered a job, the employer ran a credit check, found out about the person's student loans, and then yanked the job offer.

            But in your wingnut fantasy, the employer should be inspired and "confident" that the employee will come to work because of their student loan debts, right?   Right?   So why aren't these people snapping up job offers right and left, because employers are so "confident" they will come to work?    That "confidence" should inspire job offers, right?

            Ugh.  

            •  Potential employers need a "margin" (0+ / 0-)

              to pay employees. Not only wages, health coverage, but money for rent, taxes, fees, electricity, workman's comp., accounting, etc.

              An increasing percentage of activities no longer are able to generate the required margin.

              That's why most of the factories closed in the USA (they are now in Mexico and China) and now many fast food places are closing.

              And the required margin is often being increased by government mandates, which makes putting a viable business together tougher.

              •  There's also costs for product certification (0+ / 0-)
              •  There's no rebuttal in your post. (0+ / 0-)

                I am not seeing any argument in here that employee who has student loan debt causes an employer to be "confident" that specific employee (who has the debt) is a good hire.

                This doesn't prove any of that.   This says that employers don't want to hire anyone.   It does not say that they want to hire employees with student loan debt.

                Where is the proof the employers are "confident" about hiring employees in debt, because they employer knows they will come to work?   That's what you said.    

            •  Checked (0+ / 0-)

              The term "bad credit" came up often.

              •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

                Sure, I would expect it to come up in some cases.   But it won't be all of them.     There are still going to be people out there with good credit, but student loan debt, who are getting denied for jobs.     Did you read those links?    What do you have to say to those people?   Because under your wingnut pro-corporate fantasy, the exact thing that actually happened to them NEVER HAPPENS, because student loan debt makes the employer "confident" that the employee will come to work reliably.  Right?   So are these people lying when they say they have good credit, but student loan debt, and are denied for jobs?

    •  You're ignoring a lot of career paths (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smokey545

      If I understand you then you see this as a choice of advanced degree or no college. How about a nice state university, a $40K/year job and $25 - 30K in debt? That's less than a car loan, since most car loans are paid off in five years and not ten.

      •  I made it though a private college with 10k (0+ / 0-)

        in debt, due to financial aid, scholarships, etc. And they paid me to go to graduate school. (Do they still do that?)

        No college grad borrows $25k for their first car. And $40K/year jobs don't drop into your lap until you have a lot more skills and work experience. (Advanced degrees might get you one of these, but there you have it . . . )

        And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

        by Pale Jenova on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:09:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
          And they paid me to go to graduate school. (Do they still do that?)
          Yes, they do---it is still customary for PhD students, and master's students on TA lines, to receive a tuition waiver and stipend.

          Apparently, though, there is an increasing trend of people who don't understand the system, applying for PhD programs, not getting in (admitted but without funding), and going anyway, paying out of pocket through a loan.  These people react in unpredictable ways when you mention that it is customary to get a waiver and stipend.

          Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

          by Caj on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 07:21:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You're still ignoring a lot of career paths (0+ / 0-)

          I explained that the $25-30K is spread over 10 years, unlike car loans. It is not uncommon to get a position that pays $40K straight out of college or within a few years. Plenty of people still make a middle class living from a four-year degree. You can do it in engineering, accounting/finance, nursing, physical therapy, information technology, sales/marketing, and probably other fields that I've failed to mention. Some people can't live on $40-60K/year, but many people can and do.

          I do realize that several of those fields have an advanced-degree path, but it isn't mandatory. Only top students at better universities get into a TA path that pays for a master's. There are many employers who still will pay for advanced degree programs (often with a brief indentured servitude clause.)

  •  I think that loans should be made to the school (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT

    rather than the students and that repayment should be income contingent based on the minimum wage (no repayments due on income less than say $14,500/year).

    It might be 2% for each year in school with a maximum (pro-rated by school attendance) of 4% for an associate degree and 8% for a bachelor's degree and 10% for a master's degree above the minimum wage based threshold. It would be cut in half to 1% a year if no degree is obtained as a result of the education.

    The graduates' payments would be credited to the school's repayment obligation to the government.

    The maximum amount a school could borrow might be based on past graduates' income tax payments to the federal government.

  •  YES (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    I actually though of a similar idea myself.  A Flexible Spending Account for Student loans.  Payments can be taken directly from ones check, if so elected, pre-tax.  This way the Student Loan debt gets paid down faster, and people take less of a take home income hit.  

    For Instance, doing the calculation on using my 60K a year salary.  I could afford to pay like 800 bucks a month on my loans and still have around 400 dollars a month more in disposable income.  

  •  This is an important issue, and I am glad that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soaglow, SingleVoter, ladybug53

    you raised this. While millennials have been hardest hit by the student debt crisis, there are a substantial number of seniors who are having student loan payments deducted from their SS checks. It is a crisis. We need to make it easier for those currently in debt to pay back their loans, but we also need to address the issue of college costs. Here are a few thoughts.

    First, as several here have noted, the costs of administration, sports teams, and amenities (e.g., condo-like dorms) are out of control. They have very little to  do with earning a degree. I would like to see some tougher federal regulation on administrative salaries and perks.

    Second, you can do a lot to reduce the cost of college,  but you need to start planning early in high school. If you take AP courses and earn high scores, you can cut a semester to a year off your degree. Look for colleges that accept AP credit, especially for students who earn 4s and 5s. If you are an excellent student (really good grades, high SAT/ACT scores) many of the most selective colleges will meet 100% of your demonstrated need, and some have no-loan packages (just a scholarship and work-study). This can be cheaper than a state school, but you need to be a very strong candidate. Spend your fist two years in a  community college and live at home. Our cc offers a direct path to Rutgers and other 4-year institutions in the state. CC tuitions are much lower than the tuitions at the 4-year institutions.

    Finally, take a hard look at graduate programs. I would not start a PhD program unless I had guaranteed funding. Masters programs are money-makers  for the universities. Think about whether you really need  an MA or MS before you start one of them.

    •  When I was young (35 years ago) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue jersey mom

      I thought most Ph.D. programs were stipend paid in exchange for candidates correcting homework for professors and helping out in the lab and with research.

      I don't think I knew a single person who got a student loan for Ph.D. study.

      The students then hoping to be medical doctors knew they were going to borrow serious money, but the near certainty of becoming rich as a medical doctor didn't cause them to worry about their debt load.

      I borrowed a total of about $5,000 ($3,500 at 3%, $1,500 at 7%) during four years of college.

  •  Having an educated citizenry is worth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, soaglow

    a great deal to society at large. We should give every student a "free ride". Tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board. You would need to prove in high school that you were worth the risk.

    Anybody who has attended college knows that students work harder getting an education than they will ever work in their lives. When I advocate a "free ride", I'm talking about requiring the student to maintain a minimum course load of hard subjects (no credit for decorative underwater basket weaving) , and a minimum GPA of, say, 3.0 or better. Spartan dorms with concrete floors and walls. Basic nourishing meals and a small stipend for personal necessities. Freeloaders wouldn't last a semester, but serious students would graduate debt free.

    Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 12:52:34 PM PDT

  •  Factually incorrect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Whatithink, 84thProblem

    "$1 trillion.   That’s the amount that the Millennial Generation has been saddled with in student debt."

    No, it isn't.  

    It's the aggregate amount of all student loan debt owed in the US, which includes Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.

    A Baby Boomer that took out loans in 1975 and still hasn't paid them off is included in the $1 trillion.

    A Gen-Xer that took out loans in 1995 and still hasn't paid them off is included in the $1 trillion.

    The Millennial share of the $1 trillion will be a large share, but it does not encompass the entire sum.

  •  It's because states like Texas and others have (0+ / 0-)

    dramatically decreased their tuition support from 50% down to 13%.

    The state government just don't expand their state public universities and don't support them with much tax dollars anymore. It's more of the RW WAR on Education.

    How are those students saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in college debt going to be able to afford to buy houses and cars?

    If you don't invest in education and transportation for the 21st century, states are going to be left behind.

    Fighting Liberal at
    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” --Gandhi:

    by smokey545 on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 11:47:05 AM PDT

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