Breath of Clarity

College Tuition Takeover, Is It Worth It?

The Businessweek article “Student Loans: Debt for Life” by Peter Coy introduces that the college experience may not be worth the debt students worry about for years after their completion. The educated community created a culture that expects students to borrow what they need to make the investment into their future. Meanwhile, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student debt officially passed $1 trillion in March of 2012.

Coy emphasizes that it is not realistic for students to be able to pay back the large loans they borrow. For example, medical student Thomas Smith was $310,000 in debt and is already struggling to meet his basic needs before even considering his liability. The article also discusses the fact that students aren’t even able to utilize their degrees straight out of college because they need to pay off that debt. The epitome of this concept is Michael DiPietro, who built up roughly $100,000 in debt getting a bachelor degree in the arts, but spent the next two years following graduation as a restaurant waiter. With the descriptions of individuals throughout the piece, Coy shows the emotional impact this issue has on its victims.

The article focuses on communicating the extremity of this issue with incredible statistics. According to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, student debt is growing by nearly $3,000 a second. The piece explores deeper, questioning whether education is worth it from solely a financial perspective, even though the loss of those benefits would take a significant toll on the national economy because of the vital role college plays in the work force. In fact, 24 percent of students say their debts have affected their career choices. Coy suggests the possibility that the college debt issue will produce consequences equal to the extremity of the real estate crisis only a few years ago. It also effects a massive portion of college students. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, two-thirds of college seniors graduated with loans in 2010.

Equal opportunity for elevated education is less ideal than we may think. According to Coy, the students who receive the largest amount of aid are actually suffering the most because it is harder for them to get into college due to the university’s sole interest in making the maximum possible total profit. Colleges are also offering $10,000 to students who are able to pay full tuition, instead of distributing financial aid for it’s genuine purpose.

The overwhelming stress that student loans puts on individuals is far from temporary. According to the New York Fed, people age 60 and over were responsible for $43 billion of the $1 trillion college debt across the nation. Coy offers some solutions to conquer what seems to be such a long-term problem for individuals, but also acknowledges that every idea, “is bound to be resisted by at least some powerful constituency- students, professors, administrators, lenders, or governments.”

It would make sense for bankruptcy judges to take care of eliminating education debt, but Congress prohibits that. Alex Pollock, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, suggests that colleges should suffer more pain when federal loans don’t follow through because that would make them more careful about raising prices, but colleges would never agree to that. Coy also makes a point that disclosures need to be more clear so that students understand the potential burden they are throwing themselves into so that students who are aware of this severe issue can plan accordingly.

The article fairly addresses the other side of the struggle, the fact that student loans are vital for students and can’t be completely eliminated for that reason. For example, Rakhi Agrawal covered most her tuition costs using outside scholarships and grants from her school, and if those didn’t exist she would’ve been $225,000 in debt. Coy’s ultimate solution is to simply decrease the unreasonably high tuition cost, so that loans would not be necessary.

Coy emphasizes the severity of the problem college tuition debts poses on the United States macro economy. College is getting to the point that it isn’t even worth it. We must recognize that schools play a role in the economic cycle. Financial aid is a cover up instead of approaching the school’s own financial problems. According to the article, removing the campus completely and transforming universities to being only available online is the best way to save money. Due to the fact that we are in the midst of the technology era as well as a recession, it makes a lot of sense that more universities will become completely online-based. Of course, the article noted that professors fear the transformation because it would threaten the beauty of a classic educational lecture setting, but money has been and will always be the chief concern.

When we dissect the individual students is the way we will be able to notice that student loans are far more destructive than it. This implies that individuals value their future compared to their present state of mind, which is a concerning issue of well being. Financial forecasting is reasonable, except when the sacrifice in the moment is too overwhelming to function and not be able to use the degree earned. According to Kantrowitz, the lowest-income students are more than three times as likely as the highest-income students to be studying for a two-year degree rather than a four-year degree. So, as a result of the unaffordability of college tuition, we are losing the opportunity to develop potentially brilliant minds that simply weren’t born into a wealthy family. We are prioritizing money over naturally intelligent students, from scientists who could discover a cure cancer to entrepreneurs with incredible ideas of starting word wide movements.

Coy, Peter. “Student Loans: Debt for Life.” Businessweek. N.p., 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 28 Sept. 2012.