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Swimming in student debt?

Posted by Joanna Weiss  May 9, 2013 01:26 PM

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Are you getting crushed by student loan debt? That's the subject of Senator Elizabeth Warren's first bill, which would stave off an automatic hike in student loan interest rates --while making a statement about the political power of big banks. With no action from Congress, the interest rate for Stafford student loans will rise to 6.8 percent on July 1. Warren's bill would cap that rate at 0.75 percent, the discount rate that the Federal Reserve charges to banks.

Warren's one-year plan makes for great political theater, but it also highlights a serious problem: a college-debt burden that's holding back many Millennials. A recent survey by the American Institute for CPAs found that student debt is causing young Americans to delay buying homes and cars, saving for retirement, even getting married.

Did you take out student loans? Are you paying them back now? How has your debt affected your life? And what do you think the government -- or colleges -- should do to ease the burden? Some different viewpoints are below; add yours to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #BostonComment.


Priorities: students vs. banks

Warren Headshot.jpgIf the Federal Reserve can float trillions of dollars to large financial institutions at low interest rates to grow the economy, surely they can float the Department of Education the money to fund our students, keep us competitive, and help grow our middle class.
Elizabeth Warren, @SenWarren
U.S. Senator, D-MA


Inflating the bubble

William Jacobson pic.jpgWe have a choice, continue to grow the bubble with easy money, or try to wean the nation off the easy money tuition subsidies...Elizabeth Warren wants to grow the bubble more by making it easier for students to borrow more money by dropping the interest rate to that charged banks by the Federal Reserve, in what amounts to a giant class warfare non-sequitur.
William A. Jacobson, Clinical Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
Legal Insurrection

The big picture

student-loan-debt_occupy-posters.jpg


What it's like to live with debt

arielheadshot.jpgI graduated from Emerson College in 2012 and considered myself lucky to be only $80,000 in debt from student loans. I was struggling to pay rent and loans before losing my job two months ago when the Boston Phoenix ceased publication. I signed up for unemployment, but it’s not enough to pay off my landlord and my lenders each month, never mind novelties like food or transportation. It’s easy to get discouraged, and it’s hard to keep up the confidence needed to carry out a job search when every waking moment is spent stressing over bills, bills, bills. Now I know how Mom and Dad feel, with the mortgage, the cars, the insurance, the kids.
Ariel Shearer, @arielshearer
Independent journalist


Your responsibility to avoid debt?

Andrew Heaton.jpgI strenuously avoided going into debt during college. I attended a state school despite acceptance to a pretentious “boat shoes” school. I obtained my masters degree through a scholarship...However, I am still poor, underemployed, and probably eligible for food stamps. Assuming I make enough money this year to even pay taxes, should the government confiscate my income and give it to people who opted for expensive private colleges or who chose even more frivolous majors than I did?
Andrew Heaton. @MightyHeaton
The Freeman


Falling in love with the less expensive option

annblegen mug.png So far, I have had an ideal college experience and have gotten this at less than a third of the cost of that big university in Boston. It’s funny to think that two years ago I didn’t want to come to UMass just because of a price tag. My dream school seemed glamorous, and I was upset that money could keep me from pursuing anything I wanted in life. What I didn’t realize is that the school you attend doesn’t matter — you will get out of college as much as you put into it.
Ann Blegen, @annieBlegen
Boston Globe op-ed, May 10, 2013


A modest proposal


Students need solutions to student debt. There's no reason why an education should be a lifelong burden. Americans already owe over 1 trillion dollars in student loans, which is why it's even more important that we empower students to speak out about skyrocketing student loan debt and make sure that no one is shut out of higher education because of cost. We’re calling on colleges and universities across the country to take action in support of the students they enroll. After all, the first step, as it’s said, is admitting that there’s a problem.
I Am Not a Loan, @iamnotaloan
Student debt advocacy group


Rethink college -- and the amenities?

Effectively, we’ve treated the average wage premium as if it were a guarantee—and then we’ve encouraged college students to borrow against it. The result will be no surprise to anyone who has made the mistake of setting his or her teenager loose in a shopping mall with a credit card and no spending limit. Eighteen-year-olds demand amenities—high-speed Internet, well-upholstered classrooms, world-class fitness facilities—and in order to stay competitive, college administrators happily provide them. Then they raise the tuition for which the 18-year-olds are obediently borrowing the money.
Megan McArdle, "Is College A Lousy Investment?"
The Daily Beast, September 9, 2012


One way to escape

i am not a loan card.pngwww.facebook.com/iamnotaloan

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weiss.jpegBoston.comment is an exchange for ideas about Boston and beyond, brought to you by the Boston Globe editorial page and edited by Globe columnist Joanna Weiss. We're the sponsor of Boston.com's #LabDebates and the creator of the Choose Your Own Adventure mayoral game.

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