AMERICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM

American Education System and the Trillion-Dollar Student Loan

Wajid Hassan

June 8, 2017

Students in the United States are over-burdened with college tuition debt. Data from the Federal Reserve of Cleveland reports that “outstanding student loan balances reached $1.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2015, making student loans the second largest category of debt after mortgages” [1].  The New York Times reports that “over the past 35 years, college tuition at public universities has nearly quadrupled, to $9,139 in 2014” [2]. This article expounds the current political debate around education and suggests that the current trillion-dollar loan is actually an obstacle to the country’ economic progress.

The cost to attend Colleges have skyrocketed over the last few decades but the cause of this problem is multi-dimensional and not one single item can be pin-pointed.

  1. One of the answers to this riddle could lie in the number of faculty versus administration staff. From 1975 to 2008, the number of faculty has increased by 1% while people employed as college administrators, has ballooned from 3,800 to 12,183, a 221% increase [2]. During this same time, salaries remained the same for professors. The American Institutes for Research reports that while the economy was shrinking its overhead, universities were investing more heavily in their overhead [3]. The Huffington Post gives the reason for this with the following: Universities blame the high cost of tuition on rising regulations, advising and mental health counseling [3].
  2. In 1987, universities started adding departments such as marketing, diversity, disability, sustainability, security, environmental health, recruiting, technology, and fundraising, and added new majors and graduate and athletics programs, satellite campuses, and conference centers [3]. Due to this massive increase in bureaucracy, costs rose dramatically. Robert Martin, an economist at Centre College in Kentucky explains that now these same colleges and universities are now outsourcing these services [3]. In effect, while the government provided jobs in shape of adding multi-layers of bureaucracy through creating administration positions, costs for the average student have increased. Because universities are unable to manage the bloated bureaucracy and now need to outsource, the student is not only paying for tuition but the costs to run the university.

Many other aspects that have been a cause in the rising cost of education are noted below but we also would like to mention that each of these have in turn made college education a great experience,

  1. Increased use of computerized equipment which includes software and hardware
  2. Availability of advanced laboratories and latest libraries
  3. Reimbursement for books
  4. Availability of student services

MarketWatch reports that every second, America’s student loan debt grows by $2,726 [4]. Today, a college graduate will pay $200 to $400 each month towards paying off their debt. This ricochets against their saving for their children’s education. The Federal Reserve released a paper on Student Loan Delinquencies. They found that students who had income-driven payment plans were more likely to pay back the loan despite credit card debt and real estate loans [5]. The answer lies right here on how to solve the billion-dollar student loan problem that is to have more with work-study programs.

 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is important to further one’s ambition to become a student that can attain degrees to satisfy future employers as well as support the country’s economy by bringing back jobs but if education is too expensive it might deter students from seeking enrollment in a college or university. Being a STEM graduate student I am a proponent of STEM education but don’t see how the current system crippled by large unmanageable student loans encourages students to get STEM education. I am all for Business and Liberal art education as well. As I have a second undergraduate degree in Business as well. We need to have the mindset of the son of a farmer alongside the son of a businessman, working hard to secure a growing academic field that reaches for STEM degrees. The call for lowering student debt is echoed by Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Tex.),” Less than 8 percent of people in minority communities are represented in STEM degrees. That’s why college needs to remain affordable” [6].

Current Political Presidential candidates continue to debate the problem related to educational loan but do not offer concrete micro level solutions, we highlight here the point of view of each of the candidates about education and educational loans:

The Trillion Dollar student loan is directly effecting the STEM education graduates and is hampering the country’s economic progress. Educationalists, Academicians, Policy Makers and Politicians need to get together and think through how they want to promote STEM education so that more students would be interested in it.

References:

[1] Elvery, Joel. ”Is There a Student Loan Crisis? Not in Payments.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. N.p., n.d. 15 May 2016. Web. 25 May 2016.

[2] Campos, Paul F. “The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Apr. 2015. Web. 25 May 2016.

[3] Kingkade, Tyler. “New Analysis Shows Problematic Boom In Higher Ed Administrators.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 28 May 2016.

[4] Berman, Jillian. “Watch America’s Student-loan Debt Grow $2,726 Every Second.” MarketWatch. N.p., 30 Jan. 2016. Web. 26 May 2016.

[5] “On the Issues: It’s Time to Make College Tuition Free and Debt Free.” Bernie Sanders RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2016.

[6] Beard, Katherine, “Behind America’s Decline in Math, Science and Technology.” US News. N.p. 13 Nov 2013. Web. 3 June 2016.

[7] “Donald Trump on Education.” Donald Trump on Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016.

[8] Hanushek, Eric A. and Ludger Woessmann. “Universal Basic Skills: What Countries Stand to Gain.” OECD (2015), Universal Basic Skills: What Countries Stand to Gain, OECD Publishing. Web. 30 May 2016.

Wajid Hassan is a Ph.D. Fellow in Technology Management at Indiana State University, USA. He currently serves as the President of Pakistani American Congress and is a concerned Citizen who has deep passion for the betterment of the lives of the people and thinks attainment of higher literacy rates and quality education is the only solution for this matter. He is author of the book ‘Deciphering Pakistan’s Education Riddle’.