Understanding factors of student loan forgiveness

December 1, 2015 • Dear Editor

We are hearing college students demanding forgiveness of their student loans. There are a number of factors they should understand.

First, they are asking the taxpayers to foot the bill. Not all taxpayers are rich. Some of us are barely getting by. Nowhere does the Constitution promise a right to even a high school education, let alone a college education.

The availability of student loans has increased the cost of college education. How can that be? How much could you get for your house if there were no housing loans?
Suppose you have a house for which you paid, say, $200,000. Suppose housing loans were suddenly unavailable. Would you be able to sell it for $200,000 now? You would probably get something far less than $100,000 for it.

Banks were once allowed to exclude the income of a wife of child-bearing age toward qualifying for a loan. Lenders are now required to count both spouses’ incomes. That makes it easier for a couple to buy a house, right? It actually doubled the price of homes in many places, meaning most couples could not buy a house on one income.
In 1964, a full-time instate student payed $150 tuition and fees for a semester at UNM. Today that would cost $3,332. This is 22 times the 1964 price. In that same period, the consumer price index increased 7.6 times the1964 level.

Tuition costs rose almost three times as fast as the overall cost of living. ( Why? The availability of student loans has to be a big factor.

Now it is difficult for a student to pay for an education without going into debt. I used to pay for my tuition mowing lawns.

Some students think they should be able to live in comfort while in college. They run up large debts and blame everyone but themselves for leaving school owing huge bills. They should learn about sacrifice and hard work. They may have to stretch out their college careers by working a year or two to make money.

When I was in high school a half century ago, we were hearing that in 15 years, (from then) 65% of all jobs would require a college degree. That certainly did not happen.
Many of us baby boomers got degrees in history, literature, philosophy, and other liberal arts fields. Those disciplines have few opportunities in the job market. Some UNM graduates I knew went to TVI (now CNM) to learn a salable skill.

For the students asking for forgiveness of loans, let me give some advice. End your crybaby politics. Get that attitude out of your head that the world owes you a living (or even a college education).

Work toward ending the program of government-guaranteed loans. If the cost of a college education is too much of a burden, leave college for a trade school so you can earn a living.

There are carpenters, mechanics, and equipment operators making good money. Did you ever see a hungry plumber or electrician?

Some truck drivers live in nice houses. Or you can see your Army recruiter about loan forgiveness and learning a trade. Grow up and face the real world.

Russell Scott

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