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Student Loan Debt

Someone on social media posted the following statement regarding student loan debt:

"I believe education should be affordable. It doesn't necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I'm mystified as to why it can't work in the U.S.), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt."

This, to me, is yet another "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater" statement that presents an issue, but offers no solutions; just an expectation that somehow, someone somewhere (presumably someone within the government) will tender a solution that we can all agree to, or that we will be forced to accept whether we agree to it or not. But the issue is not without its merit.

Part of this issue is the continuing myth that someone needs to have a college education to be successful. There are too many people out there (myself included) who have become successful without having gone to college, as well as many others who have advanced degrees but are sorrowfully unsuccessful. Setting that concept aside, however, I would agree that someone who chooses to go to college should not be left with what has become commonly ascribed as "crippling debt".

There are a number of programs being tested in colleges and universities that address this particular issue. One such solution is called an "income share agreement" or ISA. Under this program, the school underwrites the student's loan and, once the student secures post-education employment, they agree to repay a percentage of their salary to the school for a set period of time. For instance, if the student graduates with a law degree and secures a job as a lawyer, they will pay back 10% of their salary for 36 months. The terms of the agreement would vary in percentage and number of payments depending on the degree, but the school's finance department would make those variables to the terms of the agreement known to the student in advance of the student signing the agreement. Based on my understanding, this program (where it has been implemented) has been quite successful. It's just not well known.

(On a more personal note, if you think that I am stupid because I didn't go to college or don't have a degree, then you obviously haven't been paying attention.)

Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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