Comments about ‘Drowning in debt: More students in debt and at higher rates than ever before’

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Published: Sunday, Oct. 9 2011 9:00 p.m. MDT

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Athens, GA

This is not a new phenomenon. When my husband and I were in graduate school we used student loans to get through. We paid our last one off the month before our first child started college. We have encouraged our kids to not use student loans except for a last ditch need. So far neither of our daughters have had to resort to loans. Our son is in law school and the only student loan he has to deal with is one his wife got for her education. It is tough and can be done. But it does seem more difficult to live than years ago for these young students.

Salt Lake City, UT

I know my major wasn't even offered at any state school. I went to Penn State (that's a heck of an out of state tuition bill) since it's one of the top three in the nation for my program, I graduated a semester early, and spent the first year at one of Penn State's satellite campuses to save money (lived just across the border so I could commute to that one). Still ended up with about 36k in debt over 3.5 years despite a sizable number of scholarships and grants. My dad is covering half of it, but as for the other half, that 18k is already 13k paid off in two years while I'm in graduate school since science major graduate students often have grants that pay them and their tuition.

I needed a lot of things to go the right way to get to a manageable debt situation, there are others I know that aren't nearly as likely, particularly the med school student.

Bountiful, Utah

I think that students need to wise up. If you are going to graduate with a lot of debt, you need to leave the idealism of making the world a better place until you have paid off the debt. If you were smart and obtained a degree in a field that will earn you a decent salary, work in that field, live like a poor church mouse, pay off the debt as quickly as you can and THEN go save the world. There are also many many employers out there in low paying service fields who will help with the debt.

South Jordan, UT

There are plenty of recent grads right now who started school before the recession, went into fields that have historically been good fields for finding good jobs, lived frugally, worked while in school, took out only the debt that they absolutely needed, and now owe hundreds of dollars a month in student debt and can't find decent work.

Are we really going to blame these recent grads for not being able to predict the recession or the high unemployment rates?

Brigham City, UT

My education (for which I still owe $25,000) is worth a billion dollars so I do believe it will pay itself off and it is "good debt"------if a person receives eternal life for becoming disciplined-------- then it is worth it. And yes educated people---the stats show-----are more likely to go to church---doesn't mean they are better---but more likely to be leaders (yes---even with debt). To the people out there saying there is no "good debt"----LDS leaders had creditors after them in the 1830's for the debt imposed by temple building---surely it was worth it then. Joesph Smith (who struggled with debt) was told in D&C 6:7 ----seek wisdom and not riches. Surely, if we are capitalists, we believe in risk and hard reality shows most businesses fail----but debt was no sin to the Prophet and no sin to anyone else----things take a life time to sort out. Having said all of this---some graduate programs needed to be burned to the ground---law schools, etc.

sports fan
Provo, UT

you do not have to go into debt for school, take it from a 24 year old Jr. high custodian working his way through school at UVU at a salary of 27K a year. there are jobs out there that will pay for school but most people are to arrogant to work them. When i tell people what i do to keep out of debt and pay for school the response is usually "im sorry" or "that must suck" i have news for you people, it doesn't! im debt free and well on my way to a job right out of school because i got into the system early.

Ms Molli
Bountiful, Utah

Thank goodness student loans can no longer be written off in bankruptcy. All of these career students are going to have to face the music one of these days. I obtained my 4 year degree in in 3.5 years and worked. I received my graduate degree in 3 years - there was no way to get it in less than 3 years as it was a required 3-year program. I see many students attending college on their parents dime and taking 6-7 years to receive an undergraduate degree in a field that has very few job openings. Parents -- you aren't helping your children in supporting this kind of behavior. A certain amount of college is helpful for everyone. But taking 2-3 extra years to graduate with an undergrad degree that will not help someone get a job is just plain stupid.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Universities have abused the student loan program to shift their supply-demand curve higher. They can increase tuition and students don't drop out they simply get bigger loans. So the universities can be inefficient and it is funded by students paying off loans after they graduate.

The purpose of the student loan programs was to enable poor students to pay for college. What it has been turned into is cash cow for universities and the poor students still can't afford to go to college.

One possible improvement is to only fund loans at community colleges for majors that have value and to not give big loans to people studying for majors that don't have a lot of value. This is kind of tough, but not as tough as having a huge student loan debt and having to work at Wal-Mart. Besides, if someone defaults on a student loan, they can't declare bankruptcy. The loan will follow them and they can't work at federal jobs. So it is already tough, but not in a way that helps the students.

lehi, ut

Wow so the general consensus here is to quit school and work at mcDonalds for the rest of our lives. i also am in school, I work 40 hours a week and go to school full time, usually between the two I am working over 80 hours a week. i am going into debt because their is no other way to pay for school while supporting my wife and two kids.

If we as a nation turn our backs on higher education we will really get ourselves into a slump, our manufacturing jobs are going over seas, without bettering ourselves this economy will never get better.

Glenn A.
Salt Lake City, UT

It's amazing how judgmental and/or out of touch with reality some people's opinions can be. You don't think many students would work three jobs to pay for school if they could? Come on, in the current job climate, most students are trying to find ONE job to help pay for school, but because of the economic nature of the country, many are struggling to do so.

Also, people need to take into account academic demands before blasting someone for not working while going to school. Sure, for my bachelor's degree I worked full-time and was able to graduate with minimal debt. In graduate school, however, between a full slate of classes and clinical obligations, I don't get home until 7-9 pm each night (including most weekends). I'd love to work, but my school schedule won't allow it, so I take out loans.

Labeling just anyone with school debt as "lazy" or "entitled" without knowing one's personal circumstances or without understanding the way they did it might not be a possible scenario for everyone, comes across as disrespectful and petty. Maybe it's a self-indulgent strategy to lift themselves above those who they criticize.

E & EE

Education is clearly important but I also think having realistic expectations is also important. If you're going to go to college and graduate in a field that isn't generally in high demand then you should expect to be working off that debt for a long time.

On the other hand if you pick a field that is in high demand then it shouldn't take long at all to pay off any loans. I'm talking about computer science, electrical engineering, etc. In fact, it's quite easy to get through school in these fields (PhD included) completely debt free even at the top universities in the country and even in these economic difficulties.

Basically what I'm saying is it comes down to a lack of pragmatism and basic understanding of economics in students. If what you learned gives little economic value to society, don't expect any one to pay you to do it.

Bountiful, UT

Why do universities increase their rates at more than the rate of inflation, where is the extra money going?

Would it be possible for them to go back to doing things the way they used to, and lower their tuition?

Of course it would, but I am certain there are built in incentives not to do it.

Murray, Utah


I think your observations about the "consensus" is wrong. But I agree with the comments that you can find ways to pay for your education without going in to considerable debt. I also disagree with those that think you need an ivy education to be an intellegent, productive member of society. I work with large groups of MD's that have educations including ivy undergrad and ivy medical school with those who went to state school undergrad and state medical schools. Take it from me; don't let the ivy league medical school diploma on the wall of your doctors office fool you.

The problem with student loans has been the same as with housing. As soon as large sums of money were made available for loan the costs skyrocketed. I agree as well that soon this bubble will burst.


I agree with tac2. There is a startling similarity between the student loan bubble and the mortgage bubble. I wonder when this one will burst?

sandy, ut

Let me make one thing clear. Education and a degree are two totally different things. Education is very important, and all of us need to continue to get more education every day if possible. I just can't stand when people go to school to say they have a degree. It means nothing other than that person is usually in heavy debt, can't find a job, and don't have much more education than when they started. Most people can learn the same things that they learn paying for a bachelors degree without taking any school at all. If you can read, write, and study without the help of college assignments then you could easily learn the same information without paying a dime to schools. I do acknowledge that certain professions such as doctors, dentists, etc. have to have a certain amount of school and have to specialize in that field. But to make students take all of these other worthless courses is a racket. The only racket bigger than U.S. colleges is religion, but it is close.

Truth and Light
Chicago, Illinois

I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go, or you could always go occupy Wall Street to confirm that you are a failure.

Get a haircut and get a real job. Why can't you be more like your brother Bob?

Sterling, VA

Lots of us that took out HUGE student loans knew exactly what we were doing and had no other options. My parents did not offer me a dime for school and I worked very hard during my undergraduate degree and still needed loans for tuition. I was able to pay for my own housing and food during undergraduate studies. Some fields (Like medicine) DO NOT allow you to work while in school, period. I would not be where I am today without the opportunity of taking out student loans. I am deeply grateful for the education I received and I every month that I pay my "other mortage", I recognize it for what it is.....the cost and sacrifice for making a difference in this world.


When I attended college many years ago (in UT), it was cheap enough for me to pay tuition and books with the money I had saved working part time since I was 16.
Our oldest child's college education cost $80,000 (tuition, room and board) paying in-state tuition at a STATE school in the east.
He lived in barely liveable places without any frills, including air conditioning. (Summers in the east can be brutally hot and humid).
Our second child is finishing school at BYU, and for the same amount of money we paid for his brother, he's been able to get a Masters degree. BYU is a bargain compared to many schools. How does tuition at U of U compare?

Don't assume because things are relatively affordable in UT it is the same everywhere else.
I don't know why Republicans diminish the value and importance of education.

lehi, ut

krissy: Couldn't agree more

new york, ny

Republicans aren't seeking to diminish the value of an education. They are advocates for people taking responsibility for their own actions. Freedom and choice has a price. The whole point is that if you cannot afford a school without taking out ridiculous amounts of debt YOU SHOULD NOT GO THERE. You should look for more realistic options. I had friends who did a few years at community colleges because they could not afford tuition and then transferred later to graduate at more expensive and higher ranked institutions, thus saving huge amounts of $. I didn't go to best school I got accepted to, I went to the best school I could afford. Back to the mortgage analogy-don't buy the biggest home just because your lender tells you that you *can*-- you will spend the rest of your life either a slave to your mortgage or defaulting. If the rate of student loans were curtailed, we would see tuition prices drop, just like we saw the housing market prices drop when mortgages became more lender selective. Schools will charge what people are willing to pay, and unfortunately people are paying with government (taxpayer) $ and little regard to payback feasibility.

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