In 2013, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that 48 percent of college graduates are employed in jobs where a college degree is not required and 38 percent are employed where a high school diploma is not required. For example, in 1970, 1 percent of taxi drivers had college degrees now 15 percent do.
One need not be an accountant to surmise what is and will continue to happen; students are defaulting on their college loans. In 2004, the rate of college debt default was 9 percent, today that rate has risen to 17 percent and many indicators suggest that the default rate could rise to over 50 percent.
On July 1, the interest rate on student loans is scheduled to return to 6.8 percent if congress does not act to keep interest rates lower. Senator Elizabeth Warren has suggested that college students should be allowed to borrow money at the rate that big banks borrow it at from the Federal Reserve, 0.75 percent.
Warren suggested that investing in those large banks is no more important than investing in the minds that will lead the nation one day. If there is no relief for college students fewer students will attend a university just as it was many years ago.
There was a time in America where only the affluent could attend college because they were the only ones that could afford it. If this is the course that develops I am afraid that our country will pay a heavy price for this decision. In the early seventies, if I am recalling it correctly, there were a variety of television commercials in support of funding African American college students; I believe the tag line was, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Perhaps those commercials will resurface again, not in support of a particular disadvantaged group but rather all Americans who cannot pay for college out of pocket.
I hope that I am wrong and that the government will provide relief to students and their families just as it did for the major corporations that received a bailout. It is difficult to imagine that our political leadership will allow our country to take what would be a giant step backward.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net