Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston – Student Loans

I’ve been reading Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) by David Cay Johnston (click here to read my other entry on this book) and just got through Chapter 14, Indentured Scholars.

Reading this chapter made me feel very thankful that I do not have student loans. Johnston tells readers that about two-thirds of college students who graduate are in debt, and many owe more than their parents make in one or even several years!

Did you know that students borrow about $85 billion each year with repayment guaranteed by the federal government? Even if you go bankrupt, federal law prohibits clearing student loans!

In 2003, I was fortunate to hear Noam Chomsky give a talk at MIT. I don’t recall the topic of his speech, but I clearly remember his argument that the purpose of student loans is to make young adults functional members of society. It does this by saddling students with debt that requires them to earn a decent salary, thus preventing them from protesting or other activities that students in the 1960s and 1970s did instead of working.

While Johnston doesn’t explicitly state this conspiracy theory as Chomsky did back in 2003, he is equally harsh in his criticisms of the student loan industry (which has come under fire recently for kickbacks paid to universities).

Personally, I think the whole college / university system has gone mad. In recent years, tuition has skyrocketed at most colleges and admission rates have plummeted. Parents are grooming their kids at ever younger ages to get them into the “right” college.

It all seems crazy to me.

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