The rise of the student loan debt is killing initiative

The world has changed a lot but we still try to convince youth that they must go to expensive schools and take on debt that will burden them for years

Sylvia GiltnerThe dream of future success is fading for many North American youth as higher education cost keeps rising.

For example, according to official data, United States student loan debt increased from US$619 billion to US$1.56 trillion during the last decade. Canadian student loan debt exceeds $3 billion right now.

Who’s at fault for the student debt loan crisis and how can we fix the situation?

There are at least three culprits: society, students and government. And to resolve the issue, all three should face their mistakes and join the efforts.

Today, self-taught programmers may live happily in Silicon Valley, while Harvard graduates may work at Starbucks. The world has changed a lot but we still try to convince youth that they must go to expensive schools.

Strong social pressure forces young people to choose pricey institutions instead of low-cost options. As a result, graduates are broke for several decades, struggling to pay off the huge debts.

To save ‘the dream,’ society should break the higher education stereotypes. Otherwise, students will keep getting into debt, just because their friends/parents/peers/neighbours believe it would be cool to get a certain diploma.

Obviously, the loan debt crisis is also the fault of the students. They decided to take loans, so they’re responsible for the consequences.

But not every young individual who borrows money for college really wants to study. Some just want to get a diploma. They’re not willing to attend classes and complete assignments.

Eventually, dishonest students leave school without knowledge – but with enormous debt. It’s no surprise that they can’t get good jobs and pay the loans back.

“Students should think twice before choosing a college and taking a student loan,” said Lucie Caldwell, career development specialist at Top Writers Review. “If young people don’t want to study hard, they should clearly understand that so-called ‘investment in education’ will not help them to succeed. Vice versa, the financial burden will destroy their lives.”

Smart students can benefit from educational programs, learning materials and online libraries, which are widely available on the web. For instance, if an individual can’t afford to pay $250,000 for an MIT diploma, he or she can take free online MIT courses.

Large student loan debt also hampers the economy, so it’s in governments’ interests to find a way to stop the crisis.

Unfortunately, political leaders haven’t offered any rational solutions. Proposals to cancel all student loan debt or to make college free for everyone will likely only destabilize the economy.

However, government assistance to solve the youth unemployment problem will help ease the problem. Most graduates start paying off student loans only when they start work after graduation.

If politicians can help graduates get well-paying jobs sooner, it will speed up the loan repayment process, lowering the total cost, and helping students more quickly and cheaply pay off their debts.

Government can also regulate the price of post-secondary education. Statistics show that the average price of U.S. college is increasing almost eight times faster than wages. Canadian tuitions are growing faster than the annual rate of inflation. Restricting tuition growth will help stabilize the economy.

It’s impossible to blame the student loan debt crisis on a single cause. And it’s impossible to fix the situation overnight. But it can be done with a concerted, combined effort from government, students and society.

Sylvia Giltner is an HR manager and freelance writer. She helps people write the perfect resume and land a desirable job. Sylvia’s articles have been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, Next Avenue, Money and more. Feel free to connect Sylvia on LinkedIn.

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