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According to the recent Consumer Reports special survey “The Student Debt Crisis: Lives on Hold,” a shockingly high 45 percent of student loan borrowers (19 million borrowers) say college was not worth the cost. For some, this is more evidence that the “college for all” movement has done more harm than good over the years, by putting students down a path of higher education that can haunt them financially for the rest of their lives.
The reality, though, is that college for all is the only viable path forward for our country. A four-year degree may not be for everyone, but evidence continues to mount that some form of education beyond high school is the new prerequisite to attaining the middle class. To this point, a recent Georgetown University study found that 99 percent of the jobs filled during the current economic recovery since 2009 have gone to people with some postsecondary education. Gaining a certificate or degree is necessary to compete at all levels of the workforce today, even in employment areas where that hasn’t historically been the case.
So while we can’t dissuade Americans from higher education, we also can’t accept the status quo of our current higher education financing system. As Consumer Reports – and myriad other reports and studies in recent years – have pointed out, the way we pay for college in the United States today is flawed, on every level. Corrections are needed across every higher education sector, and from every stakeholder who gains benefit from a college-educated society.
That’s why American Student Assistance is committed to tackling student debt comprehensively, from multiple angles. As a student loan service provider for 60 years, we’re looking to solve the problem from the inside, providing support and remediation for student loan borrowers through innovative, cross-sector partnerships.
Simply put, it’s going to take a village to change the paradigm in higher education financing. In a series of upcoming blog posts, I’ll outline ideas for specific fixes needed across all segments of society that make up the student debt patchwork—college, government, employer, philanthropist, student, parent, loan servicer, commercial lender…and others.
Bottom line: We all have a role to play. Working together, let’s all find a way to make the corrections. And do right by the future generations of Americans who deserve to pursue an education and the dreams it enables—with the help of student loans – but without the risk of drowning in student loan debt.