Home News Eliminate or Radically Restructure Federal Student Loans – The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

Eliminate or Radically Restructure Federal Student Loans – The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

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A recent defense of student loans by Jason Delisle of the American Enterprise Institute is, uncharacteristically for him, off-base. He defends the federal student loan program, which he correctly notes is criticized by those on the left (“college should be free”) as well as on the right (“student loan programs have raised the price of education”).

Delisle cites research showing that students borrowing aggressively tend to get better grades, graduate more successfully from college, and get better jobs, promoting not only their own well-being, but that of society.

While in a longer essay I probably would disagree somewhat as to the reliability of the research that Delisle cites, my much more important point is that Delisle does not see the forest for the trees.

Specifically, he ignores a fundamental problem that student loans have helped create: Too many people are getting overly expensive college degrees, while many others drop out before degree completion or end up underemployed, doing jobs historically done quite competently by high school graduates.

Do you really need a college degree to drive a taxi or be a bartender? Many doing those things today have degrees. Are taxi rides faster and safer, or drinks tastier because they are mixed by college graduates? I think not.

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