Student debt can drag your entire family down

One of the ironies of student debt is it was designed to help more people get a college education.

But in the process, parents and students have almost turned off their brains when it comes to learning (getting an education) about the risks and dangers that student loans can bring into their life.

If you are truly interested in getting an education, and you are considering using student loans, it would be wise to educate yourself first about the details and ramifications of student loans.

Janet Lorin posted a fascinating article at Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s web site titled “Indentured students rise as loans corrode college ticket”. I’ll give you the link to that article at the end of this blog post.

Here’s a story about one family in that article.

“Geraldine Damiani Brezler took out a $5,000 student loan in the late 1960s to study at the State University of New York. She became a nurse, got married, bought a house and repaid the debt in less than three years.

Today, her son, David, 38, owes about $85,000 in loans for a master’s degree in education at New York University. He can’t find full-time work, lives with his parents in White Plains, New York, and has deferred paying his debt for three years.

The financial-aid odyssey of two generations of Brezlers tracks the history of U.S. student loans, which, like the home mortgage, helped define the American dream. In the early years, the loan program let ambitious teens take on a small debt that could pay off with a lifetime of higher earnings. Now, the $1 trillion in outstanding student debt has become a drag on the economic recovery, a flashpoint in the presidential election and a threat to the egalitarian ideals of U.S. higher education.

“It’s like waking up to a snarling wolf every morning,”said David Brezler, who spends his days searching job listings, following up by e-mail and phone and taking on short-term consulting jobs. “The idea of buying a house — it’s completely inconceivable.”

The article goes on to ask an important question and to get some feedback from someone involved in student loans almost 30 years ago.

“How did a once-modest federal program spiral out of control, weighing down low- and middle-income families like the Brezlers that it was designed to help?

The answer echoes both the health-care and mortgage crises. As college costs have soared faster than the rate of inflation over the past four decades — reaching $60,000 a year at the most expensive private schools — Republicans and Democrats alike postponed a reckoning. They encouraged borrowing and ignored surging tuition, leaving loans to balloon to the size of mortgages, shocking even the system’s own architects.

“No one ever conceived this was a way to create a debtor class of former students, the indentured student,” said Tom Wolanin, who worked on federal higher education policy for 30 years and was a deputy assistant education secretary in the Clinton administration.

Politicians of all stripes ignored repeated warnings that the day would come when debt would become unsustainable.

“The path of least resistance was to have the student borrow more,” Wolanin said.“

Notice how a big part of this problem was fueled by politicians who “encouraged borrowing and ignored surging tuition”.

There is an important tip for you in that statement.

Your path to a valuable education and true freedom in life for your children is to discourage them from borrowing and pay close attention to the cost of the college your children attend.

Planning for your children’s college starts with doing your homework about the cost of different schools and the downsides of borrowing student loans.

Then have your children do their homework as well. They could start that work during high school so they become an expert on how college works.

And they can learn how money works too… and how debt is not the free ride so many politicians make it out to be.

Here’s the Article

Check out Janet Lorin’s article at Bloomberg Businessweek’s web site titled “Indentured students rise as loans corrode college ticket”.

It is a fantastic article.