In my last article I argued that the greatest threat to American capitalism is not ISIS, but instead the ball and chain of student loan debt. Here is the excerpt from my Part 1 article that should raise an eyebrow or two: “The Economist reported in 2014 that student loan debt exceeded $1.2 trillion in America. That number is scary, but an even scarier number is that over 7 million debtors are in default. The Economist went on to report that 44 million borrowers had an average outstanding loan balance of $37,172, thereby creating over a trillion dollars of outstanding student loan debt in the land of the free, home of the brave.” But what can President Donald Trump do to fix this ticking time bomb? The solutions are there, but they are hard and will ruffle politicians, employers and university feathers.
Cap student loans at two years’ worth of education.
One contributing factor to student loan debt is that universities, state schools, trade schools, etc. raise tuition because students can take out as much money as needed to get that four year degree. If a student can pull out $100,000 for college, why should a college or university lower tuition rates? By capping the loan at only two years’ worth of education, students won’t take out $100,000 in subsidized and unsubsidized loans, but instead can take community college courses to offset the enormous costs of expensive schools. Community colleges would also benefit financially from an influx of students in the community.
Why are an English degree and an engineering degree the same cost per unit?
College course costs are based on units. Most colleges have the same number of units per major, meaning that 120 units toward an English degree will cost the same as 120 units toward an engineering degree. But the average income associated with each is far different. Humanities majors average $46,065 a year according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, whereas engineering majors earn $64,891 a year.
Other majors aren’t faring well in year 1 after graduating. Forbes reported, “College graduates in the class of 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in advertising can expect an average starting salary of just $35,700 when they graduate in the spring, the lowest sum of any of 35 majors measured in a new study from Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI). The next-lowest: music/drama at $36,700. Close behind is public relations, with an average starting salary of $36,200.” Education majors are even lower, earning just over $34,000 a year.
Colleges should look at reducing the cost per unit at majors that have lower starting salaries, and look to alumni, philanthropists and fundraising efforts to offset costs to keep science and math classes updated.
The U.S. Department of Education should not profit off loans.
Right now the government has a 6.8 percent fixed interest rate for students in graduate programs and a fixed rate anywhere from 3.86 percent to 4.29 percent for undergraduate degrees. According to FinAid.org those interest rates compound daily, which means a $50,000 loan would cost $61,577 over 10 years with an approximate $500 monthly payment. If a person wants an extended loan over 25 years, the payment would be about $272 a month and $81,597 over the 25 years. That’s over $31,000 in student loan interest. Our government is profiting off the people that are still paying taxes and stimulating the economy. All government loans should be interest-free. Period.
Businesses should stop requiring a college education for every full-time job.
Big businesses are also to blame, as they require four-year degrees in graphic design and other majors where certificates from the community college or personal experience could easily suffice. Why are colleges requiring the modern 22-year-old to have tens of thousands in debt for a salary that doesn’t meet the standard of living? If we can’t discriminate based on age and gender, why can we discriminate on education?
President Trump has a lot on his plate. But this issue must become a cornerstone of his administration. If he really wants to help the little guy, as he claims, he can start with this issue. I’m waiting for your student loan tweet, Mr. President.