OPINION: Soul-sucking student loans are killing a generation of Americans

Forbes Contributor
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The shift from greater public funding of higher education to individuals financing their own education through debt has put more risk on individual students. But it also has potentially negative social and economic effects that spread beyond the college campus.

While loans are intended to expand college access to a broader population, the nature of risk that they entail also produces the opposite result. Low- and middle-income students worried about the consequences of taking out a loan will be more likely to decide that college attendance is not worth the risk. What we intended as a mechanism of educational expansion, then, is working at cross-purposes with itself. Sociologists Rachel Dwyer, Laura McLoud, and Randy Hodson put it best: “There is a certain irony that those who were expected to benefit most from expanded college access are also most vulnerable to the risks of carrying too much debt.”

Scaring away college students before they begin college, however, is a relatively small problem compared to others. Studies have found that high debt levels not only deter access at the beginning, but can also drive students away from completing college once they have already started.

Full story: Student loans are a drag on the economy and society