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IvoryTowerCNN51 karma

This is an excellent question. Why should those with credit card debt, a mortgage or a car loan be able to discharge that debt in bankruptcy, while student loans remain an obligation for a lifetime (except in exceedingly rare cases in which a disability is accepted)? One of the reasons may relate to the way we view the "asset" that is at the heart of a student loan, versus those other kinds of debt. There is a clear tangible good that a bank can seize when they foreclose on a house or repossess an automobile because the debtor can't make their payments. But when a student is unable to get a job that would allow them to pay back their loans, what is left for the bank to take back? Students are obtaining an intangible good when they go to school. In some cases there are skills they acquire, but much of their time is spent learning from peers and growing through "character formation." And a bank cannot repossess a person's character. Nevetheless, student debtors need to be protected under bankruptcy laws just as other debtors are; this is something that absolutely must change with student debt reform.

IvoryTowerCNN35 karma

The cost of college has increased by 1120% since 1978, multiples more than the cost of healthcare, food or housing. One of the main reasons analysts sight for the increase is a drop in state funding for public universities. But how does that explain the increase in private college tuitions? What we see in IVORY TOWER is that colleges in general must spend more and more money to compete for prestige in building more elaborate facilities and growing their administrative ranks to manage those resources. There are a complex set of factors that go into this equation, but unfortunately much of the rise in costs is not necessarily related to a significantly different experience in the classroom or in learning outcomes themselves. In terms of the cost of text books, this is also a terrible cost. Take a look at Dean Florez's organization, 20 Million Minds, which is trying to address the cost of textbooks with the help of technology.

IvoryTowerCNN23 karma

Unfortunately, the demand for college among prospective students continues to grow. Just this week an article in the New York Times by Ariel Kaminer reported on highschoolers who are applying to more than 20 (twenty) colleges to make sure they get in. While the Colleges can fill their seats, it's unlikely they will find any incentive to lower tuition rates (or even slow down the increases). That's where public sentiment and outrage comes in, and the need for greater public awareness of how unsustainable this financial model of college is.

IvoryTowerCNN11 karma

Check out @HigherEdNotDebt and @StrikeDebt. Advocacy can be powerful and not just "whinning." Also look at the Free Cooper Union movement. The true solution would be a full scale legislative overhaul of the higher ed sector along the lines of the Morrill Act or the GI Bill. But the current political climate does not support that kind of change.

IvoryTowerCNN9 karma

Too many students enter college without receiving counsel on how much their student loans may constrict life choices after they graduate. But at the same time the unique element of the American college experience is to allow students to "find themselves." So do we really want students to determine their major before they have a chance to sample a range of disciplines in college? Either way, I agree that colleges should help students obtain actual work experience through internships during the school year or over the summer. That should be part of the experimentation that students enjoy in college.