According to data from this year, 44 million Americans have outstanding debt from student loans.
The total of those loans reaches $1.7 trillion.
Even worse, the problem is growing and few who have loans appear to be in a position to quickly pay them.
Politicians have talked about student loan forgiveness but the problem goes much deeper and can’t simply be “wiped” away.
The problem is not that the value of higher education has increased and people can’t afford it like they used to. In fact, the opposite is true. A college degree, once an elite resume-booster, is now a common base requirement on a job application.
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Modern higher education is a house of cards. The problem can’t be “forgiven” like loans. Colleges and universities that pull billions from endowments and grants are in danger of collapsing. For instance, Stanford University announced that they expect COVID-19 related layoffs will be “unavoidable” despite a $27 billion endowment.
Ironically, the high tuition at universities and the debt crisis are entwined. The assurance of loans enables schools to charge bloated prices for tuition which in turn requires more loans to cover.
As the world has embraced digital tools and a “mobile” lifestyle, everything has become more fluid. Communicating with friends and family once required a structured local community or a structured mail logistics system. Now it just requires a cellphone and internet service. Transportation has also become more fluid with services like Uber that bring the flexibility of a personal vehicle (that is, non-public transit) to the masses.
Education is also becoming more fluid.
Online courses offer accessible learning, often at a lower price than a traditional college class. Certification programs open career doors for a fraction of the cost and time of a traditional degree.
Now you can just learn on YouTube for free.
That’s not to say a college degree is completely worthless. It’s still a good thing to have if you’re desired career requires it. But it’s certainly not worth going thousands of dollars into debt for.
So, we have a college debt crisis. What do we do about it?
It’s time to radically rethink higher education. Will we continue to pay thousands of dollars, digging deeper debt holes? Will we innovate and find new pathways to our desired destinations?
The best way to fight back against the debt crisis is to find better ways of learning and preparing for life and a career.
We need to provide students with a functional education.
We need learning solutions that don’t break the bank but provide real value. Students need to start their careers and adult lives with purpose and with a community that supports and equips them. Launching young adults into their lives and careers shouldn’t have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, avoiding debt will actively help young adults get a head start on their financial future. Student loans chain college grads and hold them back from investing in their future.
Ready to get your student on the right track and set them up for a purposeful life? Want to do it at an affordable price? Check out Ascend by Unbound: the most intense, most robust, most friendly, most exclusive college program on planet earth.
Jace Bower is the Marketing Coordinator for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.