The issues with student loan debt represent serious issues in our society. On the most fundamental level, schools charge astronomical amounts of money because they can. If there were no government student loans available to subsidize education then schools would have to charge much less or perhaps cease to exist. The fact that schools raise their rates every year knowing that their students are going into the worse kind of debt (without the option of bankruptcy) is the fault of the institutions. How is it that the same instruction and knowledge is more expensive every fall? Did the instructor, the meat and heart of the programs, get a raise? When I took my last formal class at CIIS (I am at the dissertation writing level now) it was an independent study assignment with a respected adjunct faculty. My tuition for that class was around the 1k unit cost. I paid about 3 grand (plus the expensive interest) to have the privilege of researching and writing for her and she received less than $300 for her services. She received less than ten percent of my tuition for that class.
This brings up the next issue. Why is the cost of borrowing money for school so high? At the level I, and others are at, the interest rate is between 7 and 8 percent? This is in face of the large banks who borrow from the government at little or nothing in terms of interest. Why am I, and my compadres who are in the same boat, paying that much to borrow when the banks, o say like JP Morgan who lost billions gambling on stocks they probably did not even own get to borrow for nearly nothing? Why is it that major corps get to borrow or be subsidized by the government for nearly free when the country’s brightest minds are going into indentured servitude to get an education that frankly, I believe is our right as citizens?
This brings me to the last issue. People tell me I am a fool to spend this much money to get a PhD in Religion and Philosophy, and when I am not having a panic attack, I tell them that somebody in this country has to learn to think – to learn to think critically, to write critically, to understand history and understand how to examine and interpret it. This is especially important if you are not of the class that owns the dominant narrative. Education is our right as humans. We need to know what has been said and done before. We need to exercise our minds, our intellects, our hearts in order to honor those who came before and to contribute to contemporary culture. It is harder to enslave the educated.
IF WE DO NOT HAVE THAT OPTION, if education is only an option for the wealthy, then only the wealthy will be educated and we will have an even more divided society based on class and we will have forgotten who we are.