Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Debt Education: Bad for the Young, Bad for America By Jeffrey J. Williams

STUDENT loans, for more than half those attending college, are the new paradigm of college funding. Consequently, student debt is, or will soon be, the new paradigm of early to middle adult life. Gone are the days when the state university was as cheap as a laptop and was considered a right, like secondary education. Now higher education is, like most social services, a largely privatized venture, and loans are the chief way that a majority of individuals pay for it.

Over the past decade, there has been an avalanche of criticism of the “corporatization” of the university. Most of it focuses on the impact of corporate protocols on research, the reconfiguration of the relative power of administration and faculty, and the transformation of academic into casual labor, but little of it has addressed student debt. Because more than half the students attending university receive, along with their bachelor’s degree, a sizable loan payment book, we need to deal with student debt.

The average undergraduate student loan debt in 2002 was $18,900. It more than doubled from 1992, when it was $9,200. Added to this is charge card debt, which averaged $3,000 in 2002, boosting the average total debt to about $22,000. One can reasonably expect, given still accelerating costs, that it is over $30,000 now. Bear in mind that this does not include other private loans or the debt that parents take on to send their children to college. (Neither does it account for “post-baccalaureate loans,” which more than doubled in seven years, from $18,572 in 1992–1993 to $38,428 in 1999–2000, and have likely doubled again). more...


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