While I sympathize with the author of this Detroit News column, it is surreal to see someone say “we only want the best for our kids” while encouraging them to rack up staggering amounts of student loan debt as they enter adulthood:
The day of reckoning had come. Our first-born graduated from the University of Michigan in December and they were having the come-to-Jesus meeting with loan officers at the federal government.
I held my breath in the kitchen as my husband, blessed with both the patience and steel gut required for opening the closet on an avalanche of debt, said over the phone: “Why is it Jason, that the last counselor I talked to, not five minutes ago, gave me completely different numbers for the standard repayment plan?”
When I finally heard the balance in full, I gasped. (Here’s why: Today a four year in-state college education at the University of Michigan costs $100,000. )
Make no mistake. We borrowed willingly, with no regrets about the quality of her education, nor any illusions about the mounting interest.
O.K…I get it… If you don’t have the money to pay for tuition at a Big Ten school, just go into debt over it. Why go Jr. College for the first two years, then go to a less expensive school near home to reduce the cost when you can take out a massive loan.
These days, my husband and I have so often prefaced our conversations about securing both parent and student loans with the “Times have changed …” speech, our kids now roll their eyes. We tell ourselves that paying for their own education makes them value it more. But the truth is: We hate them taking on debt right out of the gate.
Saddling yourself and your children with incredible amounts of debt to attend college is not in anyone’s best interest.
Then we get to the real purpose behind the column. The author want’s the state and federal government (i.e. you and me) to “provide an affordable path for higher education.”
As a state, and a country, for that matter, we can’t keep on insisting our future depends on a highly educated work force and then not provide an affordable path for families to get their children college degrees.
One way to drive down the cost of college tuition is getting the government out of the business of student loans. Every time government becomes involved in an economic activity, it becomes more expensive. If government student loans are severely limited and Universities see fewer students attending their hallowed halls of higher learning, cost of tuition will drop in a hurry.
Otherwise, tuition will keep climbing and people like Mary Sue Coleman will continue laughing all the way to the bank.