What’s on my mind is the platform to wipe out student debt. It all sounds great, but I have a problem with it. I had student debt. I was one of three of my parents’ kids in college simultaneously. My dad had just started his business and I had to take out a loan to help pay my public university tuition. When I graduated, I worked hard and paid it off. My husband put himself through college, with no debt. He did it the old fashion way. He worked his tail off. Two jobs and classes at the same time. Some semesters, he had to take off just to work to save enough for the next semester. He graduated and became a successful businessman.
Fast forward to today’s kids. We have employed several college kids over the years. We have watched them go to Panama City Beach for spring break, take cruises, buy 50-inch TVs and a myriad of other extravagances (for a college kid), all with their student loan money. The loans are made payable to the students, with intent for the money to help pay expenses so they can study. Why aren’t the checks made directly to the university, for tuition only?
Back in my day, there were work-study programs. Every kid had a part-time job to help with expenses. I live in a college town and have several friends that own businesses. They can’t find employees and say the college kids don’t want to work. I know there are some exceptions, probably a lot of exceptions. I’m sure there are plenty of hard-working kids out there. But the system is flawed. I definitely have an issue funding spring breaks.
Another point. This should hit home for your editor, Scott McLeod. He comes from a working-class military family, as does my brother-in-law. Why should those who choose the route of the military or the trades pay for those who did not? Why should a soldier or a plumber that is making his/her own way pay for for someone else’s education? Some choose the military so that they can use the GI bill after their service to help pay for college. They want to go to college and are thinking outside the box to get it done.
When my own kids were applying for college, we sat them down and told them how much of their college we would pay for. They had applied to state-funded schools, out-of-state schools and private colleges. Guess what? They looked at the bottom line and chose a state-funded school and got an excellent education and have great jobs now. Why should they pay for the kids that chose an expensive private college over a state-funded school for a fraction of the cost?
I don’t know what plan the new president will put forward. Maybe his administration will take some of these points into account. I know student debt is outrageous, but the student bears the responsibility. And it’s not the responsibility of those who paid their own loans, or took no loans or just simply went to work.