Institutions of higher learning like to advertise that a college education can add a $1 million to a student’s lifetime earnings. Lured by that promise, students blindly assume debt that can last a lifetime. One thirty-year-old man, who graduated with an MA in Literature, carries a$100,000 loan. Honoring that obligation costs him $1,100 each month for the foreseeable future. Some baby boomers are still making their loan payments. (“My Never-Ending Student Debt,” by M. H. Miller, The Week, September, 2018 pgs. 36-37.)
As a society, we should question whether it’s fair to ask a 17-year-old to make such an onerous financial decision so early in life. Students are not prescient. They have no knowledge of a looming illness or some future need to attend an ailing parent or child. Their only certainty is a debt that lasts, without forgiveness, until they clear it.
Not being prescient, how could they or anyone have foreseen that while our economy is booming, wages are depressed? The reason? The mega corporations have a lock on the employment market. They command a vast number of jobs, which leaves workers, like landed serfs, with few options. Worse, those mega giants employ algorithms designed to reduce costs. That means clamping down on wages. So, without a union to protect them, to whom can the worker turn?
Perhaps its time to explore our reverence of a college education. What good is a job, if the benefit goes to satisfying a student loan? Recently, Glassdoor published a list of companies that no longer require employees to have college degrees, Google, Apple and Ernst & Young, among them.” (“No Degree Required,” by Megan Ardle, The Week, September 7, 2018, pg. 14.). If numbers of young people get the message, institutions of higher learning will be challenged to bring costs down.