Letter to the Editor: Don’t encourage student loans

Pierce Presley, [email protected]

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It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Michael Giusti so completely miss the point. The concerns raised by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others have raised about the loan program and student debt load are not about the existence of the program or students’ use of it, but rather the combination of increasing tuition, decimation and cancellation of other financial aid programs and increasing interest rates on the loans. It’s not that students take the loans, but that they have become the vast majority of students’ financial aid packages while both the cost of college and the cost of borrowing rise at astounding rates.

Mike mentioned Pell Grants and hinted at the G.I. Bill; along with work study, the latter was my financial aid package when I snuck in Loyola’s back door in 1996, because student loans were and should be the last resort. I think I remember scraping under the Pell Grant line one year, even, and getting a whopping $500. I took loans in my final few semesters so that I could not work (outside of The Maroon, that is) and concentrate on my studies.

All of these were in play, along with private scholarships (I had, thanks to my service in the Marines, aged out of eligibility for most of those) and a few other sources.

Nowadays, the bulk is student loans, guaranteed by the federal government but “serviced” by a private lender if you’re lucky, wholly private if you’re not (ask me about my disastrous attempt to get MCSA certified and how much that’s cost me).

Am I saying students shouldn’t sign their notes? They should think carefully and make sure that it makes financial sense to do so. Mike is and has been very lucky that he’s moved from job to job with few breaks in an industry that’s one of the toughest right now, and I think that may be skewing his views.

I don’t begrudge him the luck or the work – he is one of the best journalists I’ve ever worked with – but the views … a little. But you can see why he might think that any debt load would be a slam dunk in his eyes; after all, you can grow your way out of it when you get the job, or the next. Maybe.

Education remains the best, surest and most adaptable way into the middle class or better, but if graduates start off with too great a debt load, they’re going to be hamstrung from the start and may never reach anything near their potential, especially if they get a slow start. Is this a limitation we want to place on the future?

Pierce Presley
A&S 1999

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