Generation Debt and the American Dream: The Need for Student Loan Reform
Justin R. La Mort
January 3, 2010
Harvard Law and Policy Review, Vol. 4, May 2010
President Obama was able to pay off his student loans only after authoring two bestselling books and becoming a prominent figure on the national political scene. This is not a strategy that can be easily replicated by the rest of us. As our tax dollars are being spent to bailout AIG and GM we have ignored helping those who are drowning in student debt. We can either rearrange the deck chairs as the band plays on or we can seize this unique opportunity in time to provide a life preserver to some of our country’s best and brightest.
The American dream is predicated that through education and hard work one can accomplish anything. Sadly, my generation will be less educated and in greater debt than the generation of my parents. Never before has having a college degree meant so much in competing in the global marketplace yet never before has the financial barriers been so great to earning that degree. This paradox must be resolved if our students and our country are to reach their full potential. The present system restricts innovation among the entrepreneurs, inventors, and artists who can no longer risk taking a chance when facing five to six figures of debt. Our society loses the talent of those unable to afford a career in public service. These effects are especially true for the middle and working class who we most want to break from the cycle of poverty but whose best route is by entering modern day indentured servitude. We must change the way we pay for higher education if the United States is to uphold its promise.
This article will detail the pervasive effects of the student loan problem in America and will examine pragmatic solutions such as ending the Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) program, removing unwarranted bankruptcy protection of student loans, and enacting loan forgiveness programs to reverse the receding economic tides. The effects of these policies would stimulate the economy, create an environment conducive to innovation, and move our society closer to its meritocratic ideals.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: Student Loan, Education, Economics, Higher Education, Policy Reform
JEL Classification: H52, H81, I22, I28
Date posted: May 25, 2010