Think twice before getting large student loans

Dec. 14, 2021 10:45 a.m. ET

A protest in support of student debt cancellation outside the White House, June 15.


Photo:

Paul Morigi / Getty Images for We The 45 Million

I shudder for the graduates and parents who have racked up six-figure government debt, heap interest rates above the market, are difficult to repay or renegotiate, and are essentially non-deductible (“Why Congress Won’t Tackle Student Debt “, Page one, Dec. 9).

During my 20 years in the bankruptcy bank, I ran many student loan cases from people who borrowed tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that they could not pay. There’s a reason no sane commercial lender would have made these loans: there is no way these borrowers will be making enough to repay them. Unfortunately, there was little I could do for these unhappy people.

Excessive student and parent borrowing, sponsored by the government and schools, is a cancerous growth in our economy. It restricts students ‘options to start their economic lives, while seriously questioning parents’ ability to retire. When things go wrong, these debts become virtual debtors’ prisons, from which even a bankrupt cannot free a student. Before getting these loans out, you should consider whether your costly degree is enough to allow you to live comfortably while you pay them back. If not, don’t do it.

Robert E. Nugent

Wichita, Kan.

Mr. Nugent was a US bankruptcy judge.

Congress could take a big step in addressing the student debt crisis by ensuring parents and students get the information they need to make prudent decisions. First, prohibit universities from including debt as part of financial aid packages. College loans are debt, not aid. Then, request college letters describing aid – scholarships or tuition waivers – for a table showing the estimated monthly and cumulative cost of a 10 year college loan on various debt increases.

Finally, ask for a forecast of the total cost of debt assuming the same amount of borrowing for each of the four college years. After comparing these estimates to expected income, some families might accept the debt, others might look to other colleges or career paths, and others might push for more financial assistance. Colleges, in turn, may finally feel the market pressures needed to contain student growth.

Peter Coffey

Madison, Conn.

Many Washington bureaucrats gain much influence and power over the student loan monopoly, which was designed to create a clandestine claim. Even now, Congress is working to forgive as much as possible without being scrutinized by reasonable people. For years I’ve been telling my students to look at the student loan market the next big crash as more and more loans are becoming bad, but instead it seems that the crisis is simply being monetized through the federal budget.

As with mortgages, politicians have again found a way to corrupt a sensible system of infrastructure investments (subsidized student loans) into a beast that promotes monstrous debt loads without limits, ruins otherwise stable credit histories and without which any special interest can no longer be brought under control gets his place at the table.

Assoc. Prof. Tim Michael

University of Houston-Clear Lake

Houston

Nobody forced anyone to take on this debt. The debt burdens that people are now complaining about were chosen freely. There are dozens of relevant personal choices: go to college or not, in or out of state, public or private, live on campus or at home, work in college or borrow the max, subject, what job? take after graduation etc.

Dare I say I speak for the majority of Americans who don’t bite off more than we can chew when I say I’m tired of hearing about the debt burden of the overeducated.

Chris Geary

Mt. Pleasant, Wis.

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Natalee Broderick

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