Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Friday, February 14, 2003

I'm so screwed

This week, I signed for my $12,000 student loan check to help pay for the semester, realizing I'm going to be paying for that for a looooong time. But my financial future is not as dismal as it could be - since I'm going for my PhD, it's still five or six years until I have to start paying off my debts. And since I'm a math student, my graduate degree is pretty much paid for. From what I hear, getting accepted in a graduate math program without a full ride is essentially the same as being rejected.

Still, that doesn't mean Ted Rall's latest column on the student loan problem in this country isn't pertinent to my own situation, excerpted below:

The pre-bankrupting of America's best and brightest, the young men and women who attend private colleges and public universities, is one of our nation's enduring, quiet scandals. Momentarily breaking the silence was a Jan. 28 New York Times profile of young adults who, because of their student loans, are forced to choose jobs solely based on pay. Margot Miles, a legal secretary who borrowed $25,000 to attend UPenn, wants to go to law school but "just can't imagine taking out any more loans." Anisa Brophy, an aspiring cartoonist, ran up a $70,000 tab attending Wilson College in Pennsylvania. Even Connie Chavez, whose $10,000 student loan Hofstra bill doesn't seem so bad, "has virtually given up on her dream of going to business school."

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Average tuition and fees at a private college or university is $18,000 and rising at twice the inflation rate. Meanwhile, what students call "real" financial aid--grants and scholarships, not loans--keeps falling. The result is two-fold. The Rand Corporation estimates that 6 million Americans will be "priced out of the system" over the next two decades. And for those who bite the bullet, more students than ever (46 percent in 1990, 70 percent in 2000) end up taking out college loans.

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College tuition is free or nominal in most industrialized, and many Third World, countries. The United States' insistence that students assume huge debts to pay for their college education is unusual enough that the Chinese government included it in its 2001 report of American human rights violations.

Until the U.S. joins the civilized world, our big-spending government can make things easier on twentysomething graduates by abolishing the student loan industry.

Eliminating the debt racket wouldn't be difficult. Calling off the invasion of Iraq, for instance, would save an estimated $200 billion---that's six years of fiscally emancipated youth right there. Eliminating last year's $1.5 trillion tax cut--money that would have gone to rich people who won't miss it--would pay off everyone's student loans for the next 50 years.

Ahh such a life. And of course, this is another thing that won't be fixed because someone is getting rich off of it. Is this a great country or what?

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