Editorial: Saddled with debt — Federal, state governments haven’t supported students as they should
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 05, 2013 | 1855 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this Aug. 30, 2012, file photo, people are led on a tour on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. According to statistics released Sept. 10, 2103, by U.S. News & World Report, the average student receiving financial aid at Harvard and Yale paid about a quarter of the sticker price and most graduates leave with smaller debt than peers who attended less prestigious schools. Photo: Elise Amendola/The Associated Press/File
In this Aug. 30, 2012, file photo, people are led on a tour on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. According to statistics released Sept. 10, 2103, by U.S. News & World Report, the average student receiving financial aid at Harvard and Yale paid about a quarter of the sticker price and most graduates leave with smaller debt than peers who attended less prestigious schools. Photo: Elise Amendola/The Associated Press/File
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One of the common litanies heard from conservative politicians is how government spending must be controlled (another word for “cut”). If not, our children and grandchildren will be saddled with the debt we created, they say.

Yet, these conservative politicians have often done the very thing they warned voters about — saddling future generations with debt.

In this process they are hindering economic growth, undermining family structure, threatening social stability and hurting the middle class — all the things those same politicians say they would never do.

One example that shows how politicians will say one thing and do the opposite should suffice.

After World War II and well into the 1960s, governments — state and federal — invested money in public education — higher education. The result was that the “greatest generation” was not only great because it survived the Depression and won World War II, it was great because it was the best-educated generation in our history.

Being the best-educated, it turned the United States into the most powerful economic machine in the world; it created one of the most stable and progressive societies ever; and it gave rise to a middle class that was envied and emulated.

Then, in the late 1960s, support for public education began to lessen. Other priorities, many parochial and politically self-serving, began to take precedent.

Yet students, seeing what education did for their parents, sought education for themselves. And when the government did not help them the way it helped their parents, they went into debt in order to learn.

That is the debt our current politicians are saddling our children with.

Today, the average graduate from a public college leaves with an education, a diploma and a $24,000 debt. Given the current job market, that debt is becoming increasingly difficult to pay. Since a student can’t go into bankruptcy the way other debtors can, more and more are defaulting on their loans.

Default destroys credit ratings, which makes it impossible for the defaulter to get a loan to start a business, buy a car, own a home and start a family — in other words, pursue the American dream.

Because our governments do not support today’s students the way they supported the “greatest generation,” many of our young people will never become great.

And if they do not become great, neither will our nation.
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