Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Student Debt and the Crushing of the American Dream" by Joseph Stiglitz

I came across this NY Times article from May 2013 written by the brilliant Joseph Stiglitz.

Here's an excerpt:

"Some wonder how the American ideal of equality of opportunity has eroded so much. The way we finance higher education provides part of the answer. Student debt has become an integral part of the story of American inequality. Robust higher education, with healthy public support, was once the linchpin in a system that promised opportunity for dedicated students of any means. We now have a pay-to-play, winner-take-all game where the wealthiest are assured a spot, and the rest are compelled to take a gamble on huge debts, with no guarantee of a payoff.
Even if compassion isn’t a factor — even if we focus just on recovery now and growth and innovation tomorrow — we must do something about student debt. Those concerned about the damage America’s growing divide is doing to our ideals and our moral character should put student debt at the top of any reform agenda."
While I'm working on diligently paying off my student loans, I know I'm not the only one that feels burdened by them to the point where it will definitely delay the purchase of a home and starting a family.  The repercussions of the student debt crisis are widespread and affect the health of our economy.  I may take personal responsibility and make sacrifices to pay off my loans, but it doesn't mean I don't question the system that creates a heavy debt burden for students pursuing higher education.  Not all societies are like this, as many other countries have much more affordable educational options, and my European counterparts, for example, have no debt upon graduation from law school.  As Stiglitz says, for many, education is the only way into upward mobility, so I don't believe blame should be placed on students who try to make a better life for themselves and their families by pursuing their education.  
What are your thoughts on this?

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