Right Hooks

Millions Mired in Massive Student Debt

It was supposed to improve America's economic health.

Dan Gilmore · Jun. 8, 2016

The government program that gave Americans loans for higher education made enrollment at U.S. colleges increase 25% from 2002 to 2012. The government’s stated goal was to increase training in America’s work force. It was supposed to improve America’s economic health. That plan didn’t work.

America’s current and former students now owe $1.2 trillion in debt. Millions of Americans who took the loans are in default. “New research shows a significant chunk of that investment backfired, with millions of students worse off for having gone to school,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Many never learned new skills because they dropped out — and now carry debt they are unwilling or unable to repay. Policy makers worry that without a bigger intervention, those borrowers will become trapped for years and will ultimately hurt, rather than help, the nation’s economy.”

In the past, the thinking among parents and students heading to university was that taking out loans was an investment that would pay off in the form of higher wages down the road. But a report by nonpartisan think tank Third Way discovered that about 40% of students who enrolled in nonprofit colleges and took on debt in 2005 only earned $25,000 six years later — no better than holding only a high school diploma.

Americans have taken on debt with little to show for it. And for what? Mike Rowe, who starred in “Dirty Jobs,” said in a Prager University video most Americans are chasing their dream jobs regardless of the skills they possess or the need for those jobs. It could be the government, in giving out these loans, enabled Americans to pursue careers that don’t actually contribute to society. Can someone say “education bubble”?

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