Student debt will hinder future goals

Debt is not a good thing. With debt, it is harder to buy a house, take a career risk or even get married. Debt constrains everything, and it is becoming overly popular. In the middle of an economic breakdown state governments are trying to save their skin by refocusing that same problem, debt, onto the students that attend state institutions.

To quote , American students are “drowning in debt”.

This situation isn’t that odd, if you think about it. College tuition and fees are increasing every year, faster than both inflation and growth in family income. Assuming that people will still want to go to college, to educate themselves and increase their career opportunities, the only logical way to pay for it is loans. The only illogical part is that the administrators, legislators and executives authorizing it have not given a second thought to pulling 18 to 24 year-olds in to share in the debt crisis.

From 1996 to 2008 the average student’s debt total has almost doubled. Look back farther and you find classes full of students who actually graduated debt free. These collegians were able to enroll, complete their course-load and graduate on time without signing onto a loan that would amount to almost half, and in some horrific cases, more than their starting salary. These graduates then went on to start companies, become teachers or even become members of the state government.

The unfortunate break that happened, was when those in the decision making positions began to apply policies that they themselves did not suffer through, to dole out tuition rates that they knew the average student could not pay.

The members of the Ga. Legislator advocating increased tuition hikes are part of that problematic generation, the generation that grew up, went to school, graduated and started their lives without any debt, or at least without much. Yes, there is a problem with over-consumption now, too many people in college use credit cards on expenses they don’t need, but there is a fundamental difference in what is considered acceptable to ask of a 22 year-old student.

Tuition policies are being set by people who have not experienced nor will they be subjected to student debt. They come from a generation where it was acceptable to graduate high school and apply for a job in sales or marketing, without a college degree, where people became paralegals or medical assistants by simply starting work at a law school or doctor’s office and working their way up. That is not this generation. There are degrees and secondary degrees needed to enter fields that previously did not require a college education.

If Ga. legislators want to serve their constituents, it is the students they have to think about. They must think about the likelihood that the policies they make will not instantly cause thousands of students to enroll in different schools, nor cause parents to suddenly start saving thousands of dolalrs more each year for colelge funds. All it will do is funnel more money into loan programs as the currently enrolled students of this state apply to revise their financial futures, all in part of an unforgiving system that raises student’s expectations of earning potential without changing the education that those student’s receive.

Members of the workforce wonder why it is that college students feel entitled to anything coming out of college. Perhaps it is because they have worked so hard for four to 10 years, taken out thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans, all in the hopes that they will make it rich, only to be told they are not qualified to do anything beyond a starting position, that the state is in a hiring freeze or that their dream company is going under due to the credit crunch.

Student debt is not a solution to any budget crunch. It is just delaying the problem for a few years, creating a group of people who are too young to be well represented in government and too desperate to receive the much-needed education that they are fighting for. This debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, nor refinanced, and there is no other way to get through a four-year research institute, unless you are one of the lucky ones with rich parents or a good scholarship.

If the University System of Ga. wants to serve students and educate the people of Ga., they must do so at a reasonable price, or else they are only educating us today on ways to work off debt tomorrow.