I benefitted directly from the guaranteed student loan program. Unlike most of my colleagues, I was a first-generation college student, and I took out loans for both BA and MA degrees. I would not have attended college were it not for this program, so I have always been grateful for it.
In my view, my fellow citizens invested $25,000 dollars in me, hoping to get a decent return on that investment. The government did not “give” it to me; I asked for it, and American taxpayers loaned it to me. I believe, after more than 30 years in the classroom teaching almost 10,000 students, that I have returned excellent value on that initial investment. If I am still paying my loans today (which I am), it is because of my own foolishness when younger, and not the fault of the program or its expectations of repayment.
So, I believe in the value of the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL) program, and I think it has helped many people like me. Overall, it was a positive program when all parties participated in it with integrity. But it is clear that the program has spiraled out of control, and the very problems that were warned about at the outset have come to pass. Congress and the public should take the time to investigate that initial debate and look at the student loan “crisis” through a longitudinal lens.
So, what are the problems that were predicted at the outset of the program? Here they are as I recall them, and they are all related to this troublesome word… “guaranteed.” Continue reading