Which is more frightening? Considering the individuals who collectively struggle under the burden of $1 trillion in student loan debt in our country or thinking about the ways this dynamic is driving the chasm between the rich and poor ever-wider? Last week the Associated Press reported that our collective student loan debt has reached the $1 trillion milestone for the first time ever. Exceeding all other forms of personal debt.
As someone who works in higher education and talks with students about their professional futures each day this is terrifying and it should be for you too. Sure, social justice concerns abound in this situation but even the most privileged should be scared.
We all possess significant gifts that we are meant to contribute to make our world as vibrant, enriching, and sustaining as possible for us all. When there are individuals who look at the simple mathematical facts about whether college is attainable to them and see that it is a guaranteed net loss – what will it mean for society if these folks stay away? When students increasingly choose their majors and career paths not solely based on their interests, gifts, and financial opportunities — when the finances dominate the decision — what will it mean for our teachers? For our social workers? For folks in law enforcement?
From my vantage point, sitting across the table from students who are wrestling with all these dynamics daily, this IS a national crisis and one that needs the focused and thoughtful attention of policy makers, government leaders, community groups, and colleges and universities and the students they serve.
Image source: http://www.veooz.com/news/VH1nIZt.html