Chart credit: Mercatus Center

Students graduating in recent years are defaulting on student loans at a significantly higher rate than earlier age cohorts, finds Mark J. Warshawsky, a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in a posting on the Mercatus website.

“Some students, particularly from nontraditional backgrounds, seem to have been harmed by the increase in federal funding of student loans,” he says. “They have not seen increases in their incomes as workers, have often not completed their education, are more likely to default on their loans, and miss out on job-related income and training.

Click for more legible image.

Warshawsky does not offer an explanation of why loan default rates are climbing. But the answer is obvious: Uncle Sam has been shoveling out more and more loans without any consideration of credit risk. As the percentage of high school graduates enrolled in two- and four-year institutions of higher education has increased over the years (see chart immediately above), we have seen an increase in the number of students who (a) are not academically prepared for college-level work, (b) lack the family resources to complete college, even with loans, or (c) both.

These college drop-outs and defaulters are disproportionately poor and minorities. The federal government cannot issue loans on the basis of credit quality, for that would mean discriminating against the poor and minorities, a political impossibility. So, instead, Uncle Sam dishes out loans indiscriminately, and the poor and minorities are the ones who wind up defaulting disproportionately on student loans and suffering the adverse consequences of ruined credit scores and debt they cannot discharge.

Thus the price of misguided compassion…

Do you want stronger proof? The percentage of high school graduates attending college has ticked down slightly since 2009, while the total of state and federal grants and loans has dipped since 2010. If I my logic above is correct, and absent an economic downturn and widespread job loss, at some point we should see a reversal of the trend shown in Warshawsky’s chart and a decline in the rate of defaulting students.

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18 responses to “Government’s War on the Poor: College Loans”

  1. Your conclusion bothers me, here. Not that it’s inaccurate in any way, but there’s something missing. I think it’s the hard sell we’ve all been giving to a “college education” for decades now, where we’ve inculcated just about every teenager with the notion that the world’s your oyster IF you just go get that Bachelor’s Degree. The high school teachers preach this; the neighborhood parents preach this; the high school counselors and administration get praised for it; the kids’ friends apply liberal doses of peer pressure pushing the social life that comes with this: Go To College! Yet some of these kids really want to be farmers and beauticians and mechanics, and if they need more education after high school just for that, the local community college has those courses too, without a residence requirement or degree-program commitment. The day when simply graduating from college was an employment meal ticket (1) never really existed and the recession took that away and (2) has receded away with grade inflation and poor preparation for basic tasks like reading and writing and (3) has been further adulterated by all the pressure to invite the marginally prepared and the frankly unprepared to attend despite the poor odds of graduation.

    So, you say, “the poor and minorities are the ones who wind up defaulting disproportionately on student loans and suffering the adverse consequences of ruined credit scores and debt they cannot discharge.” True. But why did they take that gamble? Did they even think they had a choice but to TRY to rise above their parents’ lifestyle? And there are a few success stories. We don’t want to talk about the ones crushed by failure and debt anyway.

  2. I recently saw an article which indicated that college costs have increased twice as fast as health care over the past decade or two. And, college costs have gone up 4.5 times as fast as the cost of food. One of the few things that have outpaced the cost of college has been compensation of college/university presidents and coaches. Just saw where a tennis coach at a mid-sized university was making around $250,000 and there was no income from the sport so all was paid for through athletic fee.
    And then another mid-sized university on the east coast decided to add football to make the institution more attractive to the public.. They raised athletic fees from $400 per year to $2400 per year. So if a student graduated in four years it would have been an additional $8,000 to have football or if they took five years it would have coast an additional $10,000 and guess where most of the students get this extra cost? Scholarship? Mom and Dad? Nope from loans. States came to realize in the late 1990s they could cut funds for colleges with the understanding that institutions could make it up be increasing tuition and fees as loans were so easy to get. But institutions bargained and got a reduction in accountability and oversight so they more than matched the state cuts and sports and recreation etc jumped way up and up and up…through the ceiling.
    But as in all cases somebody has to eventually pay the piper and it will be the tax payers.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    The loans, the LOANS! Oh the horror, OH THE HORROR!

    As long as we have all the loans you can to eat – available to anyone who wants to go to College – the Universities will charge whatever they can charge – consistent with the demand.

    To give some perspective.. Student loans now total more than a trillion dollars while the subsidies for ObamaCare cost a trillion – spread over 10 years and those subsidies are paid for with earmarked taxes.

    1. When you have an essential government service that the government won’t provide (except to the limited extent of subsidizing in state students to attend public universities), desperate people will get it any way they can. E.g., by private borrowing.

      When the politicians see a need (for loans) that won’t cost the government anything, why not make them easy to get? E.g., by reckless lending.

      When the educational institutions see an opportunity to abandon cost controls, boost the institution’s reputation, and provide the hedonistic experience the resident student consumer wants, all at the consumer’s expense, why not provide it? E.g., by raising prices with abandon.

      What will stop this out-of-control spiral? Free community college is my preference, to give the consumer a real post-high-school education choice he can afford. I suspect the cost to all of us of loan defaults under the present system is no less. And make the lenders, not the government, responsible for making (and for defaults on) those loans.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Acbar – we agree far more than we disagree on a host of things including this.

    I think Community College should be a priority and YES – FREE – ESPECIALLY to those kids that Bacon characterizes as not “traditional” college types. We need to set all kids up in high school to go to Community College – without loans or with very minimal ones making it an easier choice that signing up
    for a big loan.

    Next – the govt needs to come after those that don’t pay – make a show of it – make it clear it’s not “free” and it won’t be written-off.

    Finally – Universities are like most any other entity that will take free money and deliver a desired product – to the level the free money is available for sure. They will admit as many students as they can accommodate for as high a price as they can charge.. and from that money – hire as many employees as the money will pay for to perform their stated mission. I strongly suspect if we went to voucher schools for k-12 – we’d end up the same way with folks who are unsophisticated in finance and education being sold a bill of goods – also.

    Having said that odious thing – the middle class is only marginally better – they use those loans to buy Cadillac College when their own finances and employment prospects are clearly Chevy. They like that govt free money just as much so they can “afford” a much more expensive option than otherwise.

    It’s bad all the way around.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Larry, as you’ve posted many times, most community colleges are reasonably prudent from a fiscal perspective. Toss in the conclusion that four-year colleges that have students with easy access to loans generally operate at levels where costs exceed inflation.

      Doesn’t this lead to a likelihood that, if we make community college free with tax dollars, we are quite likely to see the end of fiscally prudent conduct at community colleges?

      Free sells well. Institutions tend to act in their best interests, rather than those of their customers/funders. Look at public schools. Fairfax County Public Schools are ready to increase class size so that they can give raises to administrators even though the turnover rate, excluding normal retirement, is miniscule. To hell with the kids. To hell with the taxpayers. To Hell with the parents. Bolster the educrats.

      If your recommended policy was adopted, Bacon would soon be adding community college as an entitlement ready to crash on the rocks. And people tend to do better when they have skin in the game.

      1. Your point is exactly right, TMT. Follow the private easy-loan model to its logical conclusion and you get a lack of cost control. And conservatives don’t generally advocate anything government-supplied-for-free as likely to control costs either.

        My dilemma, and I submit, the dilemma for all of us, is, how provide what is, essentially, an extension of high school. The need is undeniable, and that’s why kids and parents are so willing to go into hock to pay for it. We have the kids who are not ready for today’s non-manual-labor work force without additional education, and the employers waiting in line to employ them, and the terrible social/political experiment our President wishes to play with bringing back those factory jobs, which we know is doomed. Now, Jim brings up one consequence of the way we are currently muddling through, which is, (1) denying to our poorest young people (by its price tag) the very opportunity to get ahead we preach to them they should seek, or (2) saddling them with debt — lots of it — sometimes crushing — in order to buy that meal ticket called a college education. And further: putting aside what’s “right” for these young people, my working assumption is, the economy will be helped more by the better educated work force than the cost to society of educating it. I’d love to see some proof of that, but I’ll throw it out there.

        So, I’m for stepping back and asking, if the task is to provide additional education to young people who want it and whose families can’t pay for it, how can we go about this rationally? Denying the need and insisting on kids taking on the debt they don’t understand at that age, then mopping up their defaults with government dollars and ruined credit ratings, is NOT a solution. We have the hardly-encouraging example of how our local governments provide an education through high school today. We also have the two track college system that’s out there today, the residential 4 year experience with all the bells and whistles, and the far more basic commuter community college experience; how encourage the latter, which appears to be all that’s needed?

        I admit my bias is towards things we can do to provide an equal opportunity to our citizens to get ahead,particularly for young people, and particularly for those who have the furthest to climb.

        One way to do this is to have businesses run work-study programs in-house for the people they hire, education benefits along the same lines as they provide health care, as a form of compensation. This sort of cradle-to-grave relationship between the employer and employee sounds very foreign to me, but I’ve read proposals along those lines. Doesn’t appeal to me.

        Another way is to extend high school two to four years. It’s a straightforward solution that would build on something government already knows how to do, for better or worse. There are learning and motivational differences that come with age 18 or so, however, and this option doesn’t appeal to me either.

        Another way is to provide grants in place of loans to our young people — like a voucher system, but for college. Our tax-free plans are already a step in that direction, but they aid the people with cash they can set aside, not those families living close to the edge. I’d like to see a State-run voucher program for high school graduates to attend an in-state public college. But the reimbursement should be tailored somehow to the cost of a community college, commuter college, degree. Our in-State students could attend one of these essentially for free and get the post-high-school education they seek and need. Go to a 4-year residential public college and pay the difference yourself. Go to a private college or one that’s out of State and we’d have to discuss the pros and cons of using State vouchers for that.

        But you ask, would this lead to spiraling costs at these colleges, destroying the very efficiency of our community college system, the same way easy loans have inflated the costs at our residential colleges? My answer is, I don’t know; I hope not. My gut tells me, making community college essentially free would not necessarily inflate costs any worse than the costs of adult education generally are inflated by vouchers or other public aid.

        And how do we come up with the extra money to do all this? That, I submit, is the only right way to answer the Trump challenge. He wants to impose new border taxes and cajole employers to bring back jobs from overseas that don’t require an education after high school. I don’t think that will work. Instead, provide that education without personal debt to those who need it and we will attract the jobs — new jobs — that we really want. And it should hurt the economy a lot less than Trump’s approach.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: “free” leads to fiscal sloth

    it depends but so far remember that loans are already also available to community colleges and we just don’t see the price escalation that we see
    in the 4yr institutions. Community colleges offer a very different curriculum that is more tuned to real jobs that exist for specific kinds of education that they offer.. from criminal justice to nursing to a wide variety of occupational certificates and they are not residential and do not have dining halls nor stadiums or sports..

    the more kids we can get into a community college and get an occupational certificate, the more kids we have getting jobs, paying taxes and not needing entitlements AND not going to 4 yr schools, getting big loans, failing.. or even graduating but not in a job that can pay the loan off.

    4yr schools with residential, food, and sports.. are a different product and if the school is a “brand” name – very popular . and now, very expensive – beyond the means of many including the middle class – without those loans which are now totally out of control and unsustainable.

    If we could divert some of these kids who probably ought not to be going to 4yr institutions at the front – to at least go to a Community College.. they actually have a chance at a job AND to a better opportunity to finish the next 2 yrs.

    what people don’t seem to accept is that the 4yr institutions are going to charge whatever the market can bear and if they bring in loads of money, they will spend it on making their “product” even more appealing to attract even more customers so they can continue to get more than enough wanting to sign up.

    This is what happens when each customer gets a guaranteed “all you care to borrow loan that you can walk away from if things go south”.

    The 4yr guys are not about to lower prices if they still have “customers” stumbling all over themselves to buy their “product”.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” If your recommended policy was adopted, Bacon would soon be adding community college as an entitlement ready to crash on the rocks. And people tend to do better when they have skin in the game.”

    As Acbar pointed out, high school is not going to get you very far in today’s world and that has consequences for you – and all taxpayers.

    One of the big differences between Community Colleges and 4 yr institutions is the latter is often not focused on specific job goals but more of a credential that gets you into the door of the higher tier “field” jobs whereas the Community College is more more specific with a tangible goal .. and that’s what many kids from non-traditional college families actually need. It does not preclude them transferring to 4yr but it gives them a more solid base upon which to take the next steps.. with some assurance that they have a fall back – a job they are trained for.. it’s gets them on the escalator …

    it PAYS taxpayers to PAY for that KIND of education.. the same way it made and makes sense for us to provide “free” K-12. The 21st century reality is that K-12 is no longer sufficient for most jobs that provide a living wage, ergo.. the need for entitlements. it’s called an “investment”.

  7. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    We are exactly where I said we were. Uncontrolled proposals to spend money with the hope that things will improve by spending more money. Recently, we’ve discussed expanding health insurance coverage (Medicaid), road and transit improvements, public schools (K-12), environmental concerns and now no-tuition community college. And, of course, what to do with the millions of poor people who cross the boarder to undercut our own poor people with little education and job skills.

    What are the expected gains/benefits? How do we measure them? How will we know when we’ve achieved them? And what if something is not producing, what happens? Has the United States become Rome – bread and circuses?

    When do we see cost controls? When do we see efforts made to drive out costs that are not productive? How do we prevent taxpayer dollars from fueling inflation in institutional costs? When do we force good management processes on institutions?

    For example, Fairfax County Public Schools are constantly bemoaning the fact they are not getting enough new good teachers. More money; more money. In comes a new HR head who discovers, FCPS principals are generally making offers later than nearby competing school systems. Offers need to be made earlier in the year, and principals who fail in that task need to be touched financially. Will it happen?

    Prospective teachers attending job fairs often receive no follow-up contacts. People whose job it is to make follow-up contacts and who don’t do so in a timely manner need to suffer professionally and financially. Will it happen?

    Spend more; tax more; borrow more. Bread and circuses are here.

  8. Ah, “bread and circuses are here.” Bring on the gladiators; and the lions too. And the deficit spending for that glorious marble stadium. The boost to the local economy always pays for stadiums and athletic teams, by the way. Didn’t you know, that’s the certain way for a Virginia city to make lots of money!

    But, seriously. It’s hard, in today’s poisonous political climate, to strive for a moderate position anywhere near the middle of the road. But I tried to explain why the notion of free community college makes fiscal sense to me in spite of the fact that it pains me to spend money on an expensive social gamble. We have a bad track record with that. The entire Great Society was rife with unproven, wishful thinking and, having conducted that extravagant experiment on ourselves we need to ask what, if anything, good came out of it? Along with food stamps and AFDC we indulged in spending on the militarization of our police and on the War on Poverty with its many giveaways.

    I’m not saying, spending on education merely looks good by comparison to the Great Society. I’m saying spending on education is a core value of this Republic. The old Jeffersonian ideal of an educated yeoman-farmer electorate still makes sense. Today’s “yeoman-farmers” rejected HC and voted for the chaos candidate knowing that with the chaos might come some consternation over what we have done to ourselves. How else can the man shake things up but by doing the unexpected? Etc. and etc. But education is a democratic core principle. Now, that alone does not mean that government should provide education for free, or on what terms, but somewhere around the middle of the 19th century that became the standard. We have even extended that principle post high-school, to the extent of subsidized public colleges.

    I argue here for consistency. Conservatives want government to be as little intrusive as possible — well then, that begs the question, what are the things that government should do, that it should intrude in our lives by insisting on? The “pursuit of happiness” and 14th amendment equal protection/due process notions boil down to, each generation starts over and has an equal opportunity under the law to rise or fall. So, this is what drives me to say, health and education are two areas that even conservatives (especially conservatives) ought to support a strong government fiscal involvement. No it cannot be a blank check; no it cannot be open ended (health, after all, is always a losing struggle), but we should try.

    Coming at this from another direction, it seems to me that the notion of competing in the world economy requires that as a nation we invest heavily in education. And getting ready for the struggle with automation — to keep people relevant and employable — simply amplifies the need. Those who are not well-educated are going to be irrelevant. And dependent upon society for everything. I’d prefer to gamble on education as helping to stave off that fateful day.

    OK, that’s why I would make the investment in “free” community college. This is not to pick on any particular opposing view. Anybody else want to speak up, here?

    1. “It seems to me that the notion of competing in the world economy requires that as a nation we invest heavily in education.”

      Fair enough. We should invest heavily in education. But guess what, we are. The U.S. invests more per capita in K-12 and higher education than any other country on the planet. What’s the pay-off? What’s the return on investment? I would suggest two things: (1) It is possible to spend too much money on education, and we may have passed that point; and (2) It is possible to spend money on education badly.

      I contend that we need to get a better handle on how we are spending all that money, and what social return on investment we’re getting for our money.

  9. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    The central point that my good friend Acbar seems to be missing is that today’s system of higher education in the United States has little to do with educating undergraduate students, and most everything to do with the care and feeding of the educational establishment who things – administrators and faculty and their crony allies, typically in business, government, and NGO cabal.

    Acbar, spend a week attending classes and Northern Virginia Community College for starters. See how that “learning experience” goes for ya. But the problems are everywhere.

    Today, an ever increasing portion of our higher education system has evolved so its designed to punish and short change institutions and educators who are serious about and devoted to teaching students, particularly undergraduates. Instead that system is more and more designed to generate ever more the revenues that are funneled into bettering the life styles, perks, independence, options, advantages, and power of the ever smaller cabal of special interests that run and milk these institutions.

    What one needs to understand is that this funneling of ever more power, independence, and advantage to those controlling and milking these institutions requires the those institutions buy off their prime commodities and revenue producers by lavishing upon students ever more luxuries that cater to their ever growing list of demands.

    This has spawned a ever growing Plethora of Horribles. One can start with the destruction of undergraduate Arts and Sciences and go from there. For example an A- is now considered a low grade.

    In short to keep this machine of charades going requires that each institution attract and keep as many students fat, dumb, and happily in their seats learning little as long a possible. So once students gain admittance they are entertained. And never stressed or encouraged to learn anything. A study of students at Brown, for example, have lost intellectual competence after four years there.

    One major problem is far too much money. Another is a total absence of ethics, hard work, or accountability of anyone in power, including students.

  10. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Acbar – what do we cut? Taxpayers are beleaguered at least at the state and local level. Local taxes go up faster than incomes. We just raised taxes significantly for transportation under McDonnell. We cannot sustain paying more for local schools, higher education, public sector pensions, public sector raises, roads, transit, expanding heath care, meeting the social and economic needs of unlawful residents and their families, etc. Fairfax County also wants to finish funding its deferral first program for arrested people with additional or mental illness and to reduce the span of control for police sergeants.

    Government is the biggest threat to my quality of life. I feel an obligation to pay taxes, but there needs to be cuts. Where do we start?

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      TMT says “Acbar – what do we cut? Taxpayers are beleaguered at least at the state and local level. Local taxes go up faster than incomes … Government is the biggest threat to my quality of life. I feel an obligation to pay taxes, but there needs to be cuts. Where do we start?”

      I don’t know where we start but we better start somewhere soon, because there is a whole lot more pain and dysfunction coming our way if we don’t.

      For example, the damage caused by these out of control student loans that have been sold to and inflicted on our students, together with the Federal Governments wasteful research spending that now pollutes science, now is doing untold harm. These wasteful expenditures of monies dismantle our teaching of the Arts and the humanities to our undergraduates (courses and learning that is critical to the very survival of our nation and culture), while these monies undermine our colleges and universities capacity to teach and instruct, and discipline and set standards for, students and their behavior while in college. Indeed these monies corrupt most all they touch.

      For example.

      Not only today do millions of students in US classrooms learn next to nothing beyond bad habits, they are wasting much of their time and undergraduate experience on and off campus, while its cost and habits are despoiling their best chances of a good future once out of college. The damage is endless. Recent generations of children who have been sent to college to become effective citizens and people, have instead had their culture, values, character and identities destroyed.

      As a result students now lack the skills, habits, and tools, and the drive and confidence, they need to keep learning and growing throughout life. So they do not know who they are, where they want to go, and who and what they want to be. Things like how and where to earn a living. How to gain and keep a lasting mate and start and build a stable family. Much less how to be self-sufficient and productive contributors to a self-governed democratic society such as they find in America.

      America’s higher education today by and large refuses to give our students the tools they need to do such things. How can our American students manage to live, thrive, and improve within our constitutional system without knowing how it works? How can they understand the place they were born and/or live without knowing its history? How can they keep and maintain and improve Western Civilization built over millennia without knowing what western civilization is? Or how it got to be where its been and is now? How it was built? What are its values? What are its foundations? What are its frailties, its strengths, its weaknesses, its opportunities, its uniqueness? What has been lost and gained and fought over and unresolved for centuries so they our students today find themselves where and who they are today?

      Without knowing all this – What has happened in our past and why – Today’s students find themselves lost, powerless, and helpless in this world they live. Particularly so in times of change, challenge and uncertainty. This is why today’s student’s are so terribly unhappy, so unable to cope, and so self-destructive, and/or inept. They now find themselves on a stormy sea without anchor, sail, or rudder. Because higher education fails them.

      Without a real education, but only a false one or none at all, our students now do not know how and where to look for their OWN answers to the critical questions they confront in growing up today, and what they must face if they are to become an adult.

      Much of the fault lies with our colleges and universities. No one there has shown these students where to look to find the best examples, the best guidance, the best inspiration, the best hope and best skepticism, much less where all the snakes are hiding in the woodpile of this world, so that they can navigate this world on their own.

      By that I mean – Make Up their OWN minds about what their values really are and what they really believe in. Only so armed and standing on such firm and educated ground, can they formulate and execute with confidence their OWN best Judgements and take their own actions in their own best interests and values, that are up to the best standards set by the best of our earlier generations of Americans. And if not American standards, then those of some others peoples, places and times who they are best able to defend their own choice of what’s best for them and their values.

      The central problem today is that most professors grossly overrate themselves and refuse to earn or even try to earn the mantle of great teacher that far to many wrap themselves in. Or alternatively they could now care less about teaching students at all. This is particularly in the arts and humanities, where many far too many professors have over the decades disassembled and destroyed the great courses their great professors earlier taught – courses in literature, literary theory, linguistics, histories, and psychologies and social and cultural studies and political sciences of all sorts, for example.

      As to the professors who care not a whit about teaching students, these are in growing numbers missing in action altogether, off doing their own thing that contribute little to their students at college or university.

      In addition far to many tenured professors have their job all backward.

      True educators do not teach their own version of truth or nonsense. They teach students HOW and WHERE to look and search for truth and to shift through all the best history and teachings and scholarship of the past, to find it where its lies and so give students the skill to be able to figure out for themselves what the past has to offer them directly from those few and precious souls who over time have proven far accomplished and learned and wise and experienced than we (or at most all but a handful of us, including at best a few professors) can ever hope to be. It is this reservoir of knowledge that much of America’s and Europe’s faculty had been going about trying to ignore, hide, obfuscate, insult, and outright destroy, for future generations including their own students. And they have done all this damage to our society while they take vast sums of public money of ours for their work.

      But the truth remains. Only true educators can best bring the past to life for many of todays students so they have the best chance to build their own future, instead of having professors and their institutions stand in the way of, and do positive harm, to their future.

      Regarding the student loans today, the harm they are doing. That is next.

  11. Maybe America is investing heavily in education including upcoming $2 trillion in Student loans. We are looking at another crash like the real estate loans. Maybe Trump, like Bush, can get a guy from Goldman Sachs to come down and figure out how to print some more money.
    Many states are trying to get a handle on the issue including Tennessee where Republican governor Haslam has a new approach including free community colleges (for student on a track to graduate with a meaningful degree) and the state gives any and every high school graduate a Promise Scholarship of more than $5k per year that they can use at any four year college, public or private, in Tennessee. And Tennessee does not have an income tax.
    And, a lot of community colleges across the nation have four year occupation technical degrees.
    And, more change is coming for the demographics of the next generation is changing dramatically. In Fairfax County as one example a third of the students are on free lunch and another third live in one parent homes. Fewer and fewer of profiling like those of the past ten years are n school now. So college going rates will fall.
    Change is coming nationwide but Virginia has no leadership interested or capable of devising a meaningful plan for the future. We think that federal government spending will increase as it has since the 1980s and Virginia will prosper. Maybe but maybe not.

  12. Says Reed, “TMT says ‘Acbar – what do we cut? Taxpayers are beleaguered at least at the state and local level.’” Says Jim, “(1) It is possible to spend too much money on education, and we may have passed that point; and (2) It is possible to spend money on education badly.”

    Sure, it’s all about money and priorities. Come back to where this discussion started. The kids are borrowing insane amounts and, because there’s no payback in a reasonable time, they are defaulting. I’m looking at one reason they are borrowing — to buy future employment and income — which they can do at a community college. Reed also touched on the other, sadder reason they go into such debt, and that is to buy that four year party and spending spree called residential college, and the indulgent education bureaucracy that provides it. Yes, JWG, this is not a sustainable trajectory.

    But I despair at the same trends vilified so successfully by Mr. Trump. I don’t want his solutions, however. Build a wall? Start a tariff war? Back to the 1930s, for starters. And that’s before automation hits. No, we owe it to the future of our people, and the future of our country, to do the darnedest we can in educating these rising young people.

    I also despair at the waste that’s rampant in the local-government-run education arena. The scary thing is, it’s as bad or worse in the private education sector, and appears to be no better in the partially government funded big-name colleges of Virginia.

    Priorities, priorities. Is it preferable to get the education for our young people in place, government run, with all its warts, then strive for better efficiencies? Or kick the future generation out into the workforce after high school, then pick up the tab when some of them go to college anyway and default on their government-backed loans? And the others go into jobs that are fast leaving the Country?

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Acbar -we aren’t far apart. College educations are too expensive that, in turn, causes insane levels of borrowing and debt. Substantial cuts need to be made. Colleges need to employ fewer people. Priorities. We need some leadership to say “It’s time to make cuts; cuts that don’t interfere with teaching.”

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