Student Loans: A Burden Not Just For College Students

As the cost of college degrees have increased by over 1,120% in the past 35 years, students have been forced to take on large amounts of seemingly unpayable loans. However, this problem doesn't just affect current students. More than 2 million Americans, all over the age of 60, have unpaid student loans. This number has tripled from 700,000 in 2005 and the amount of debt has more than quintupled from $8 billion to $43 billion. And in order to pay off these loans, money is continuously being deducted from the social security accounts of these 2 million Americans which may leave many without any source of income.

Now a cynic may say “too bad, it’s their own fault for taking on student loans to begin with” however the problem isn't just that we have an increasing number of older Americans with an increasing amount of student loans. The problem is that many of these loans may never be paid off signaling an unsustainable loan system for past, present, and future students. We could even say that there is a bubble with student loans due to the large availability, but a decreasing ability of students to pay them off. Even if these loans do get paid off, it takes an extraordinary amount of time and a disproportionate amount of money due to interest rates.

This leaves us with 2 options going forward. The first option is to decrease the availability of student loans and the second option is to greatly subsidize the cost of higher education. The first option is impracticable though as it would directly decrease the amount of students that can afford to attend higher education and effectively cause a decline in the quality of human capital. The second option has been implemented in a number of European nations so it becomes more of a question of affordability rather than feasibility.

-Kevin Tsao