OUR VIEWS: Student loans out of control

May 8, 2012


We have all read about the problem and heard the staggering numbers involved. Examples exist of the $120,000 student loan for a master's degree in dentistry that landed the graduate with a job as a dental assistant. Then there are the law students with deferred repayment plans accumulating unheard of interest on loans.

The examples continue, but at the core of the crisis is the fact that upon graduation these educated, inspired, well-intended new members of our economic society can barely afford to live. In some cases, this debt repayment is forecasted to last up to 40 years. Some don't have a chance at ever paying it off.

How does this make sense? It doesn't. As our area releases hundreds of new graduates into the world in the coming weeks, we wonder how many of them will be able to obtain gainful employment after completing college degrees in philosophy, liberal arts studies, music or history. What's the job market out there for a philosopher these days? How about a musician or history buff? And will whatever job they manage to find be enough to pay off thousands of dollars in student loans? Probably not.

At the same time, the Tribune recently featured a story about the lack of trained mechanics in the marine industry locally. While these jobs could pay $24 or more per hour, they go unfilled. Why? Because the message to teens is this: Go to college. But why? So some can live saddled with student loan debt while working in a low-paying job upon graduation?

Parents, mentors and educators should help provide a realistic career outlook for all students based upon their interests and skills. Some students should pursue technical trades - electricians, boat mechanics and plumbers all make great wages - while others pursue college professions. An associate's degree, in many cases, also provides training for high-paying careers such as nurses and x-ray techs, with lower tuition costs. Consider the options.

Perhaps the pendulum will swing with time. The goal of graduating from a high-priced school of prestige involving a lifetime of debt will become less attractive. Instead, as some experts predict, the community college and career center may start to become more the norm. We'd welcome such a change. Local marinas would, too.



people need to learn to live within their own financial means, it is not rocket science. Although college is expensive, it is no secret how expensive (check their website) do some research and find out how much you think you can make upon graduation and how many years it will take to graduate plus the cost of living. Do some planning on your own, if you can't plan...don't go to college. I think trades are a better solutions for most students, I wish I would have gone down that route. However, I feel the bigger problem for college graduates is global competition. The biggest shock to me when I went to college was culture shock. I would guess that 25-30% of students at a public university are foreigners that come here for the education, and leave. This is the source of the problem. When the foreign students go back to their country, they make us compete for the same job, and they will do it for half the price....so guess where the job goes...overseas. By doing this, the universities are taking away the value of a college education for the American students. I hate to say it, but we need to quit teaching the world. I know some people will say that the foreign students bring a lot of money to our economy....but you have to ask yourself "is it worth it" We need to give American Students the advantage and not foreigners.


Not going to college? Really? There are many options. Some students shun debt and attend community colleges to satisfy basic freshman and sophomore courses. In community colleges, classes are taught by certified teachers/professors while in large universities, many 100 and 200 level classes are taught by 22 year-old graduate students. In other cases, students may withdraw for a semester or two to pay down debt, or to save money for the next batch of coursework. Some people are meant for "college" so they can move into "apprenticeships" in the trades, which is "further education".

International Student %:
UM & MSU rank in the top 10 national with about ten percent of the students being international visiting scholars. MSU ranks in the top 5 annually as a university sending it's students abroad to perfect other languages and learn about other cultures; an increasingly important understanding in this global economy where companies are now multi-national companies. State universities need to be careful regarding accepting both "out-of-state" and international students or they lose state funding.

If you come from a mono-cultural community like the Tri-cities, I would imagine that 10% would seem like "25%-30%". This is a culture shock, and good for opening ones eyes to the rest of the world. These international students all bring money to the Michigan economy. According to Open Doors (2010), international students invest more than $600 million in the Michigan economy.

While 10% of the students in state universities may be international students, American students are studying abroad and working abroad, at an increasing rate. Recently, while paying MSU tuition, almost 18% of MSU students studied abroad around the world.

Education IS worth it. Each degree can essentially doubles one's income, depending one's specialties.


The student loans aren't the problem, its the price of college and the degrees that are sought. The cost is out of control with no end in sight. If students have a clear goal in mind and a good career path picked out, they will do fine. Most types of engineers are in demand. Degrees in Underwater basket weaving won't produce an income to support a living. It's up to each person to be responsible for their own college tuition. If you can't afford to go to a major university, go to a community college or a good Technology school.


engineering is in demand, but it is not where the money is. Part wokers for the UAW make more per hour than most engineers (go figure but it is true, look it up). Furthermore, there are very very few direct hire positions available in engineering, so you will get stuck working as a contractor with no benefits, bonuses, vacation etc.


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