A massive amount of student debt is being created by federal lending programs, which has many fearing that student loans have become too easy to get.
Almost all student loans are made through the government, which asks little about the borrower’s ability to repay the loan or what kind of schooling they are in pursuit of.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, U.S. student loan debt rose by $42 billion, or 4.6 percent in the third quarter alone. The total amount of student debt now stands at $956 billion, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Payments on 11 percent of student loan balances were 90 or more days behind at the end of September, which is an increase from 8.9 percent in June.
Unlike many other kinds of debt, student debt is very hard to get rid of after falling behind. Once the borrower is behind, it is typically harder and harder to obtain any other kind of consumer loans. President Barak Obama called for the need of easy-to-get student loans during his campaign this year because of the necessity of higher learning.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Ducan told WSJ the goal is “to make student loans available to as many people as possible,” and requiring a minimum credit score for students would block many Americans from attending college.
With more stories coming out about the struggles of students deep in debt, the national attention has shifted to the government and borrowers.
“Is there any way the federal government could possibly come out in the good?” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “What we are really doing is piling up debt and down the road the same students are going to have to pay it off.”
With the student debt problem growing quickly, many economists have proposed solutions.
Jackson Toby, a retired Rutgers sociologist, told the Wall Street Journal he proposes students should have to undergo a “comprehensive assessment of credit worthiness.” This would include analyzing how much debt a student has, their academic history and their expected income upon graduation.
The Education Department has also taken action to fight student debt. The department has tightened standards on loans to parents and graduate students, and has even allowed borrowers to postpone payments during times of “hardship,” as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The administration has also finalized rules that would allow certain borrowers to have their remained debt forgiven after 20 years. This could only happen if the borrower makes monthly payments at 10 percent of their income throughout the duration of the loan.
“The government shouldn’t be lending out more money if they can’t expect to get it back,” Fowlerville freshman Brandon Craigie said. “It will just lead to more national debt.”
Craigie’s family has had experience with the repayment of student loans, and has been on the fortunate side of the matter.
“My aunt went to Central Michigan University for her teaching degree and the only reason she has her student loans paid off is because the school she teaches at paid them for her,” he said. “Without that, I’m sure she would still be paying them off.”
Capac sophomore Shannon Draper said the future of the nation needs to be taken into consideration when determining who gets financial aid and who doesn’t.
“It’s not really fair for the government to say someone shouldn’t get financial aid based on previous experiences because school is so important to society these days,” she said. “It could be just as harmful to the economy if a lot of people can’t afford to get into college. There are a lot of jobs that need a college education today and there would be fewer people to fill those jobs. That means the country’s unemployment rates could be higher.”