Wesleyan student and senior interviewer Zain Alam ’13 has been featured in Businessweek
for an op-ed regarding student loans as part of a feature piece on student loans, an issue which is becoming more and more prevalent as private universities continue to increase their costs. The increasing amount of time required to pay off loans is acknowledged in the story title: Student Loans: Debt for Life. The blurb for Alam’s photo illustrates a situation that has become commonplace at top schools, including Wes:
A senior at Wesleyan University, Alam works 10 to 25 hours a week to limit his loans, which he still expects could reach $23,000 by the time he graduates. “It becomes really apparent how absurd the price tag is when you go abroad and everyone’s jaw drops,” he says. “Of course, most of them say they’d do absolutely anything to get an education in America—but at what price?”
Alam Editor Peter Coy cites a New York Fed study that found people over 60 are responsible for over $60 billion in loan debt, and offers a handful of possible longterm solutions to the problem:
One huge step would be to allow bankruptcy judges to wipe out education debt, as they could until Congress began to tighten restrictions in 1976. Under today’s punitive statute, judges can discharge student loans only in cases of undue hardship, which in many jurisdictions requires proof of “certainty of hopelessness.” (Congratulations, pal, you’re hopeless!) “The law is much too harsh,” says U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Jay Cristol in Miami.
Check out the rest of the article on Businessweek. Also, the issue of crushing student loans is one of the many reasons why President Roth is moving to end need-blind admissions, another hot, controversial topic at Wesleyan. As Roth says, “Schools can also remain ‘need-blind’ by increasing loan levels or expected parental contribution. We will not do this.” To read what Roth has to say in relation to loans and “need-blind”, check out his blog entries here and here.
These two money-related issues are at odds. Which is better in the long run? Does need-blind admission justify terrible, life-long loans? Is scaling back need-blind a reasonable means of reducing loans? Which is the lesser evil? Sound off in the comments.
Correction: Alam did not author this piece, as we originally posted. His photo (and profile blurb) was included as part of a feature piece by economics editor Peter Coy, thanks to a call for photos by Businessweek editor Jared Keller ’09. Apologies for any confusion.