A Lifetime Of Student Debt Essays

A Lifetime Of Student Debt Essays

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Robin Wilson’s article A Lifetime of Student Debt? Not Likely (2009) outlines the key
issues supporting and refuting the increasingly popular sentiment that student-loan borrowing is
threatening the financial future of today’s college students. Wilson cites arguments presented in
key books, news articles, and television shows, and summarizes the degree to which each
portrays “poignant, painful stories” of young college hopefuls that have since become anchored
in debt, (p. 257) before employing the works of empirical studies and academic scholars to refute
these sensationalized stories. One such work cited is that of Michael S. McPherson (2004), an
economist and president of the Spencer foundation, who articulates the notion that “most people
borrow a reasonable amount of money, they pay it back, and they are better for having gone to
college.” (p. 257) McPherson continues to clarify that it is only the select few, the “vocal
minority” of students determined to attend their “dream college no matter the cost,” that
succumb to large amounts of student debt. (p.256) Wilson’s central claim represents a synthesis
of the two extremes, and can be summarized in the sentiment that college is worth borrowing for
as long as there is an affordable and sustainable option available.
Wilson first begins with a presentation of those campaigns that voice contradictory
opinions often expressed in the sensationalized stories, each marketing the underlying notion that
student-debt as a national crisis. (p. 256) Student-debt advocacy groups like the Project on
Student Debt, are not refuting the value of a college education, which is in fact supported by data
from the United States Census Bureau which details how on average college graduate earned
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...education is generally a smart idea,” and it enables the
Martin 6
individuals to pursue employment opportunities with higher base salaries and ultimately provides
them with the resources necessary to pay off their low interest investment. (p.259)
Though I concede there is a there is a reasonable basis for fear that students will be
paying their student loans for the rest of their lives, I agree with Callan’s (2002), position that “
the only thing that is worse than borrowing is not borrowing and not going to college at all.” (p.
260) and Wilson (2004) surely is right in her argument that there are many alternatives to student
loans and that opportunities like grants and scholarships help ease the financial burden of
attending college. (p. 260) The new opportunity is to address the fearful reality facing those
students who struggle month after month to make ends meet.

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