$1 trillion student loan debt widens US wealth gap

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • BballWatcher Park City, UT
    March 31, 2014 10:18 p.m.

    I graduated from law school with no student debt. My undergrad GPA and LSAT scores qualified me to get into nearly any law school in the nation, but I chose to attend a good law school that offered me a scholarship. I was hired by a law firm who also hired an associate from Harvard. We were working for the same firm, making the same salary, and he had about $100,000 in debt, while I was debt-free. I asked him if he really thought it was worth it. He claimed he did, because his diploma had Harvard on it. Fine, but don't whine about your repayment obligations. There are ways to get your education without racking up that much debt.

  • hapticz Passaic, NJ
    March 29, 2014 7:29 p.m.

    is the value of the paper worth the cost of getting it? will the knowledge imparted actually have worth over the following 'productive' years of those with it? has our nation made advances that reflect this huge increase in tuition and extended degree demands, has growing crops changed that much? has manufacturing basic commodities demanded unusually radical means of thought? do we need to travel 60+ miles each day, just to perform menial office tasks, service methods and then run back to our expensive over the top abode to remain 'status quo', to keep social gossip quelled? the new america is losing it's way as a nation once determined to escape the bonds of monarchy and the inequity of class. an education does not gurantee one the opportunity to earn anymore.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    March 29, 2014 3:37 p.m.

    All my life intuitively I've understood the consequences of debt. Its a dangerous negative that should be gotten into with extreme care, and only if the good that comes from it exceeds the bad. I know people, I have relatives who are oblivious to the dangers of debt. They weren't born with the same 'common sense' that I was and they have suffered as a consequense.

    Not all university degrees are equal. My son's friend spent $40,000 at a private university (may have been university of Phoenix) getting a degree having to do with business and computers. This sounds good but it didn't work out. He said he couldn't find a job. Graduates from that program he said didn't know enough about computers to get a job or about business.

    Let the buyer beware. Before you get a degree, research it. Make sure that getting it will fulfill your expectations. Don't take for granted that it will.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    March 29, 2014 9:18 a.m.

    which came first the chicken or the egg? Student loans and grants are what push up costs.

  • MyChildrensKeeper Taylorsville, UT
    March 29, 2014 4:12 a.m.

    I can't go into the future a few years to ask but my question is has anyone learned anything from all this education and debts and borrowing and what it means to a person and a nation? None of it has been what it was sold as. It has not been an economic boost or path to wealth.

    A few did acquire good jobs that are supposed to be high paying but with a depressed economy where $250,000/yr income today is comparable to low income jobs of the 1960's $30,000/yr. So it means a Doctor today is not even a low income pay of the 1960's.
    There is not any gaps in wages or jobs because we all earn the same wages as we are supposed to do in Socialist society of equality at any job or education.

    Regardless of eduction, socialism means no one earns enough to pay their living cost let alone personal outrageous debts which is the only variable in the economic living conditions. Those without debt and credit cards excessive technology are doing very well in this 1930's stranded "HOBO economy" and no trains to move us around to jobs.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    March 29, 2014 3:47 a.m.

    Education has not been well thought out by today's children of indentured servants who were tricked into thinking college is required to be prosperous and wealthy. They are realizing the lies they have been told and that the jobs they were told to study for are in China and Mexico and other 3rd worlds slave markets.

    It's not that education and government didn't know this but this Trillion dollars debt had its purpose for 2 reasons, first it replaced all the default and losses on home loans and stimulated banking bailouts by putting the ignorant and uninformed students in debt replacing home loan losses. Banking wealth relies on the movement of debt and not payments. Students bailed out banks and education with trillion dollar windfall tuition, and left holding the bag of lies.

    The second reason for the education lie was to keep high shoolers out of the job market and lower unemployment numbers to falsify economic growth when no one is looking for a job. Low unemployment also exaggerate the numbers as evidence that the business world needed more cheap undocumented trespassers as labor for a shortage of workers. AKA, higher tax load for working americans.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    March 28, 2014 8:24 p.m.

    “The spark of Conservative principles??”

    “Conservatives” don’t have principles. They have values, sure, but not principles. Read Covey’s 7 Habits if you want to understand the different.

    Contrary to what you prefer to believe . . . terrible, Right -Wing, regressive, plutocratic governance and oligarchic capitalism do in fact reduce the number of millionaires, and it brings down the quality of life for all of us.

    Theodore Roosevelt knew that. That’s why he fought the big Oligarchic Capitalists and completely HUMBLED them. He broke up the monopolies and oligopolies that had constricted free enterprise and stifled competition, and he leveled the playing field.

    TR made it possible for the little guys, smart innovators with great ideas, to establish a foothold and bring their products to market. And that created a lot of millionaires, as it completely revitalized capitalism in America, making it stronger, more adaptable and better able to compete internationally in the 20th century. TR raised the quality of life for all Americans.

    Now THAT is good governance. And it was a Liberal, Progressive REPUBLICAN who showed us how it should be done.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    March 28, 2014 8:05 p.m.

    Hey Old but not Stupid - The poor pay much higher taxes compared to income than one percenters do.

    That 10 cents a poor man pays for sales tax on his dollar burger at McDonald’s represents a much higher percentage of his income than a percenter who pays a 20 dollars for sales tax on his shrimp cocktail and Mai Tais.

    The nominal tax rate used to be over 90% for the highest earners during Eisenhower’s administration back when we fought the cold war, built the interstate highway system, and still had plenty of money left to balance the budget. That’s because we had adequate revenue.

    The highest earners are taxed much less than they used to be, thus the lack of adequate revenue. Reaganomics (i.e. trickle down economics) does not work, has never worked, and will never work.

    Trickle down economics gives us a dismal economy.

    The proof is in the pudding, and “Conservatives” serve some pretty terrible tasting pudding.

    You're wrong about the Jefferson quote.

    "The government that solves problems governs best."

  • JimInSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    March 28, 2014 7:48 p.m.

    Because of all the easy loan money, tuition rates over the years has risen dramatically. Except for the well-to-do, I don't think it is possible to graduate without taking on a lot of debt.

    This generation burdened with student loan debt are the very ones that the ACA is relying upon to offset medical costs of the elderly. The same generation that is being looked at to pay into social security to keep that Ponzi scheme afloat. Anyone else see any problems here?

  • Anti Bush-Obama Chihuahua, 00
    March 28, 2014 1:47 p.m.

    That's what happens when people go to college for a worthless degree. 90% of college degrees are good for nothing.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 28, 2014 12:18 p.m.


    So you do have a spark of conservative principles in you. Who'd have known from your previous posts?

    As for the rich people and their contributions to society. First off, I don't believe that because someone has become a millionaire it stopped me from becoming one. Which I'm not. And, you know that there are many many very very rich liberals and progressives out there. Don't you think that if they truly believed what they preached, they'd "contribute" more. I mean, when you look at wealth earned and contributed to others, few people can walk in the shoes of Mitt Romney. He gave away his first million, which he inherited. How many Kennedys, Soros, Kerrys, Reids, Pelosis, ect. can say that? I find many on the left who talk the talk, but their personal checkbooks stay closed. With 17 trillion debt, even if we taxed at 90% the people who earn $250,000 and more, we would hardly touch our debt. We need some tax increases, but mostly we need reduced spending and programs that grow the economy. Jobs. Going on 6 years of Obama now.............. it isn't working.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    March 28, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    The root of the problem is that we value reputation more than performance. We should have a standardized system of ability testing universally acknowledged among employers. College degrees should be replaced with a universal competency test. How you obtain the skills should not matter as long as you have them - learn in college, learn on your own, learn on the job, learn in a foreign country, or be instructed by an angel from Heaven. The applicant pays the fee, takes the test, gets his score. Not good enough - study, practice, try again. The cost of education will go down by a factor of 100 or more while the quality will go up.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    March 28, 2014 8:22 a.m.

    Wealth gap?

    Nope! Every person has the opportunity to become wealthy.

    It's just that some decide to become whiners, and want to live of others.

  • Abefroman22 Farmington, UT
    March 28, 2014 7:52 a.m.

    D. Jeremy-
    I guess it helps that I stayed in state and paid in-state tuition...Especially when considering law school, I would hope that the majority of people realize that it's all the same BAR exam and unless you are going somewhere very prestigious, you shouldn't bog yourself down in debt. So your comment about a "decent law school" really doesn't make a lot of sense. I hope you went to Harvard or Yale for law school! I have an individual in my family that worked while they went to law school out of state, finished law school, passed the BAR and moved back to Utah with $15,000 in debt. That is certainly reasonable. This person has a spectacular job as an attorney currently. I never said that the way I did it was right, I said it was feasible to do.

  • Old But Not Stupid Moorpark, CA
    March 28, 2014 4:54 a.m.

    "But very few "Conservatives" are really accountable or responsible, even though they pretend to be. Even dirt poor "Conservatives" insist that the highest earners should not fulfill their part of the social contract and pay more in taxes. But that doesn't mean that poor and middle class Conservatives are in any way noble. It just means they have been successfully propagandized to act like faithful peons to the highest earners."

    Uhhh..Gary, high earners DO pay more in taxes. 47% pay NO income tax.

    Your statement sounds more like the propaganda/talking points of the "progressives" of both parties who now have the country circling the drain. T. Jefferson was correct - the govt that governs least, governs best. And he was a democrat!

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    March 27, 2014 6:27 p.m.

    ChrisB - Thanks for reaching out.

    I'm all for personal responsibility and accountability, as most Moderates and Liberals are.

    But very few "Conservatives" are really accountable or responsible, even though they pretend to be. Even dirt poor "Conservatives" insist that the highest earners should not fulfill their part of the social contract and pay more in taxes. But that doesn't mean that poor and middle class Conservatives are in any way noble. It just means they have been successfully propagandized to act like faithful peons to the highest earners.

    That's not accountability or responsibility. It's no trait to be admired. It pure foolishness. In defending your high-earning heroes, you are ensuring that you and your families must make sacrifices so the rich can get richer at your expense, and you are ensuring that the quality of life for your children and their children will much less than what it could be.

    And you think that's accountability?

    You see what I mean about pretense?

    I'm glad I could help.

  • D. Jeremy Spring, TX
    March 27, 2014 3:08 p.m.

    I don't know where you went to graduate school, but your experience was certainly different than jbiking's and mine. I also paid around $35k/year to go to law school. I am not aware of anyone who is able to go to a decent law school and concurrently work full time to pay for it. Law firms typically won't hire you full time until you graduate, and waiting tables won't cover $105k (just for tuition) over the span of three years.

    My wife and I did what we could during law school, but still walked away over $150k in debt. And this is typical today for law school debt.

    lost in DC has one of the more viable solutions. Remove the ability to borrow as much and costs will necessarily drop. Also, remove the federal government from backing student loans and you will have less people able to take out exorbitant amounts of debt.

  • jbiking Madison, WI
    March 27, 2014 1:04 p.m.

    I'm truly glad it worked out well for you. As you can see from the article-you are an exceptional person. The fact is that tuition has risen much faster than wages.

    Your experience doesn't speak to the broader question I pose. How does the U.S. stay competitive in the world economy where tuition burden limit vast numbers of the population to achieve an education? It seems to me that we succeed as a country when more and more of us reach our educational and innovative potential.

    This issue is much larger than our personal thrift habits, although these play a part.

  • Abefroman22 Farmington, UT
    March 27, 2014 12:38 p.m.

    I'm sorry, but those times ARE these times. I graduated from graduate school last year (2013). Like I said, I was fortunate/lucky. I lived at home until I got married, worked full time in the financial industry and was able to pay undergraduate and graduate books, tuition, fees, and still put down $50k on a home in my last semester. I'm not claiming that it is easy, but it is achievable. I worked full time plus night job twice a week, and my wife worked full time until we had our son in my second-to-last semester. I am 27 years old.
    I have been extremely blessed with jobs that I have been able to attain and succeed at.

  • jbiking Madison, WI
    March 27, 2014 12:17 p.m.

    Appreciate your comments: "I was lucky/fortunate enough to complete my undergraduate and my graduate degree with no student loan debt. I knew what my tuition was going to be each semester, and made sacrifices to save that amount of money up so that I had it when it was due."
    Unfortunately, those times are not these times. What was your tuition compared to your income? I can only speak for my personal situation but I was able to complete undergrad with no debt by scholarships and working to pay for books, etc and living at home. Graduate school was a different story-No amount of minimum wage work covers 35K/year tuition plus cost of living. Something has to be done to control tuition costs otherwise wealth gaps will continue to rise. I'm not worried about myself, I'll succeed and pay off a lot of debt. But what about the country as a whole? How can we compete/thrive in a global economy where their (Europe, China, India) tuition is free/reduced? I worry we may find ourselves on the wrong side of history.

  • lket Bluffdale, UT
    March 27, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    they want a bigger lower class so when factory workers go to high to pay over seas they can bring factories back to a underclass of people they are forming in america for the capitalistas that control this country.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2014 12:00 p.m.


    You're suggesting people pay their own loans off and demanding personal accountability?

    That's a far cry from the liberal perspective you give us on other articles. I'm happily surprised you didn't blame student loans on rich people and start demanding that rich people and taxpayers pay for the loans other people decided to take out.

    Job well done Gary

  • Indi135 162 S Marble Canyon Dr., UT
    March 27, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    I agree with both sides here. I saw a lot of wasted money fly around when I was in school. But tuition and fees at universities have gone far beyond what is necessary to provide good education. If you don't go to school, your expectations of wealth, stability, and satisfaction are less later on. So people borrow what they have to, and Universities charge what they can get away with. Frivolous spending needs to be checked on both sides.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 27, 2014 11:14 a.m.

    Too many kids go to college as an alternative to getting a real job. Too many take majors that have no employment demand. Too many do not save to pay their college expenses. Too many waste money on luxuries (eating out instead of Kraft mac & cheese and ramen soup diets) and fancy electronic gizmos.

    College costs continue to rise many times the rate of inflation, an inexcusable scam that needs to be stopped.

    I have zero sympathy for the kids who make bad choices and whine about the consequences. And for those who want someone else to pay for the mistakes, instead of giving away their money to help.

    Finally, do we really need all the lawyers that are created by our excess of law schools? Lawyers create nothing, only redistribute wealth created by others.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 27, 2014 10:49 a.m.

    the availability of student loans is at least one factor in the increase in tuition costs. If students could not borrow, not as many could pay, and if enough people could not pay, the cost would go down - simple supply and demand.

    I have no sympathy for the student who racks up a six figure debt to get an advanced degree in pop culture (yes, they are offered!) or any other field of study where the chances of getting a good paying job are slim to none.

    Fortunately undergraduate tuition at our local universities is not as outrageous as at other places, public and private.

    I worked two jobs during college, lived at home and commuted (thanks, mom & dad), and paid for all my books, tuition, and fees. It still can be done.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    March 27, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    ‘$1 trillion student loan debt widens US wealth gap’

    Really? I'm not buying it.

    A college education adds to one's marketability in the work force, hence reducing that wealth gap while greatly reducing the income gap. And no one compelled anyone to take those loans out.

    So just pay YOUR loans off yourself. I had to. And plenty of other people had to pay their school loans off as well.

    If the point of the article is to encourage citizens to have the government pay for some deadbeats' school loans . . . FORGET IT. You've got to learn responsibility some time. That might as well happen NOW.

    Yes, I can imagine the country is full of sneaky lawyers who want the taxpayers to pick up the tab on their law school educations. But that's NOT happening if this citizen has anything to say about it.

  • KG South Jordan, UT
    March 27, 2014 10:10 a.m.

    Borrowing is out of hand, but much of that is based on the rise of tuition. The example I am most familiar with is the U of U Law School. For the 2007-2008 school year, tuition was $13,210. This year, it is $23,489. Salaries certainly haven't come close to doubling in that time.

  • Enough is enough! Saint George, UT
    March 27, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    Observation about the Chevrolet vs. luxury cars---You don't know how heavily in debt the luxury drivers are! If your car gets you from point A to B while you're paying off debt, no big deal. And when you get out of debt, why buy a luxury one anyway? They are expensive to license and maintain. If your mentality is luxury, you might always be in debt.

    The frustration that someone has more degrees than parents and is worse off tells several tales. 1. He can't realize that his parents didn't start out with everything. 2. He voluntarily choose his major and took on the debt. 3. He needs to minimize the outflow.

    My college children went out to lunch and dinner A LOT! I was appalled. I probably went to lunch twice in four years of college and only remember going to dinner once. I simply didn't have the money---either packed a lunch or went back to my apt.

    Good financial habits reap rewards much later. While my friends and their spouses can't afford to retire, my spouse and I are many years retired and we will not outlive our money.

    Abefroman22 is absolutely correct.

  • Dragline Orem, UT
    March 27, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    "...perhaps inequality has gotten to the point where it's not fair when people don't have a chance to rise, and we need to do something about it,"

    This country at one time was a meritocracy where all were given a chance to succeed. Now, unless you have stocks given to you from your parents to sell, you cannot compete in college or the free market. We now have a plutocracy.

  • Abefroman22 Farmington, UT
    March 27, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    I truly hate to see these articles. I think one of the biggest issues with the growing student loan debt is the fact that many young people do not perceive the effect of taking out student loans until it is time to pay them back (if deferred). Smarter money management can make a huge difference in my opinion. I was lucky/fortunate enough to complete my undergraduate and my graduate degree with no student loan debt. I knew what my tuition was going to be each semester, and made sacrifices to save that amount of money up so that I had it when it was due. When I graduated I had a mortgage, wife and baby.
    I see so many people that live at home, have in-state tuition and work that have taken large amounts (20k+) of student loans. I just don't get it.