Derek Thompson has an excellent article in the Atlantic about the student debt crisis. Thompson says Obama’s student-debt repayment plans won’t make much of dent in our embarrassing national $1.2 trillion student debt crisis. Most students aren’t even taking advantage of the current Pay As You Earn plan.
Thompson says that the best way to reduce the student debt crisis is with “marketing.” In other words, students and their parents have to understand the best way to spend their education dollars.
Thompson is right. Parents need knowledge to be better higher education consumers. Here’s a couple of quick tips:
- Learn about the student loan process and repayment options, including Pay As You Earn.
- Beware of for-profit colleges (Thompson calls them student-debt factories.)
- Once you’re are in, stay in! Finish in four years! Do not change majors or transfer!
- Avoid graduate degrees, unless you have hard evidence that it will guarantee you a job promotion, raise, or access to a new career.
But parents and students alone cannot shift the course of the student debt debacle. We also need help from the eduction community. Colleges need to work on student retention, four-year graduation rates, and support for low-income students. Students need better counseling, while at school. We even need high schools in the game. They could be training their graduating seniors on the ins and outs of student loans and college selection.
Obama’s reforms must be combined with larger changes in higher ed and with education-consumers in order to work.