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How Colleges Condemn Students To Indebtedness And Constrain Their Life Choices


How Colleges Condemn Students To Indebtedness And Constrain Their Life Choices


The protesters at UC Davis are right to be angry: rising student debt loads have extraordinary effects.

Behind the horrific images of a UC Davis policeman nonchalantly pepper spraying a peaceful group of seated students is the reason why they’re seated. What’s forced them out of their classrooms and dorms and into tents on the quad? A lot of issues, certainly, as the Occupy movement is taking a stand against many dysfunctional aspects of our society. But as one of the students who was sprayed put it, “The #OWS movement is global, but it’s expressed locally in ways that are relevant to each city. People who are in NYC go to Wall Street. Oakland takes the port. At Davis, we have a university.”

University students have a right to be pissed off. Beyond the fact that they’ll be graduating into a world where Wall Street dominates the economy but gives little value back, corporations have more say in our political system than citizens, and neither is held accountable, they’re facing the short-term constraints of gargantuan student debt loads, set to hit a total of $1 trillion this year — more than all credit card debt combined. The graduates of 2010 who had student loans owed an average $25,250; compare that to the average graduate in 1993, who only owed $8,462. Those numbers are daunting, but what do they mean for students’ futures?

Amanda Terkel wrote a fantastic in-depth article looking into the “brain drain”: hordes of fresh grads, the best and brightest our country has to offer, getting funneled into Wall Street. These students aren’t just economics majors or business school grads. They’re engineers, computer programmers, scientists. There are a lot of factors that contribute to the banks’ gravitational pull. Recruiters from finance and consulting firms are allowed to give money to career development offices in some universities in exchange for more access to students. And then there’s the increased status of going to Goldman or Citi, the peer pressure. That’s a new phenomenon. Before bank deregulation in the late 70s and 80s, banking was thought to be a snoozy line of work. Booming profits changed that.


  1. cemab4y November 24, 2011

    Parents are supposed to pay for college costs. When I see these horrendous debts, I think where are the parents. If prospective parents cannot afford college for their prospective children, then the prospective parents should not have children. This is how I deal with college costs, for my children, I have no children. No children, no college costs. Simple.

    I went to school on borrowed money. My parents drank and smoked and spent more money on booze and tobacco, than my entire college costs. When I graduated, I eschewed the big bucks that I could have made in the private sector, and took a low paying government job. I figured that I owed something back to my nation. (Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country).

    The feds decided not to award me with tenure, so I went to the private sector, where I could really cash in.

    If the grads who need to pay off debt are going for the high-paying jobs, then fine. I wish them well. I just hope they keep their family sizes in line with their ability to pay for college.

  2. stubimmac November 26, 2011

    Where is it said that parents “HAVE” to pay for a child’s student debt. To many people especially these days cant afford the added expense. If a child wants to get hire education it doesn’t hurt for them to get student loans. It is the costs that is the problem. Colleges are just like a Corporation. GREEDY! Reduce the cost so it is more affordable then they children who go will be easier to pay back. It doesn’t have to be a free ride but just a lot more affordable. Every child should be able to go to college. And since when should a parent only have children if they dont want them to go to college. Where is your logic cemab4y. Never heard such crap in my life.


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