A week before Christmas I wrote a blog post about how federal efforts to fix the student debt problem may actually make it harder to solve the underlying problem of soaring tuition prices. I wrote:
One of the more frustrating aspects of the Occupy movement was how the anger about student debt did not seem to implicate colleges and universities’ role in all of this. The debt itself, and the banks that service it, became the villains, not the institutions that students paid all that money. To be sure, the for-profits have been put through the ringer on this front, but traditional higher education has not borne the brunt of indebted graduates’ frustrations.
Because the new IBR delivers real benefits to high-debt borrowers, these potential activists may be even less interested in pushing for policies that improve the quality and value of higher education. Political activism typically springs from grievances. When the immediate concerns of the aggrieved are addressed in a way that does not solve the underlying problem, you wind up in the worst of all worlds: An appeased constituency and a public problem that’s left to fester. . .
One of today’s The Onion headlines nails it: “Man Has Alarming Level Of Pride In Institution That Left Him $50,000 In Debt, Inadequately Prepared For Job Market.” The article concludes with its best bit:
In addition to encouraging family members and his friends’ younger siblings to attend the university, Felder expressed his hope to one day send his future children to the school, each of whom will undoubtedly qualify for comprehensive financial aid packages due to their father’s low level of annual income and virtually nonexistent savings.
At press time, Felder had just received a phone call from the University of Miami asking for a donation to the school.
It wouldn’t be as funny if it weren’t so spot-on.