We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
You know, I think this is slightly off target. The guaranteed student loans that I got back in the late 70's did not begin to accrue interest until after my graduation date, and even then it was a very low rate. I was able to begin paying them off even before interest began accruing. Of course, I worked my butt off on semester breaks and even during the year, so I had some money coming in as well.
It seems to me that the root fault is the growth-business model that universities have pursued, nurturing a class of consumers (students) with their gotta-have-a-degree con and providing an entertaining summer camp atmosphere while systematically downgrading educational excellence. What debt holder would take any of that seriously? The lenders were after growth. And the price tag is painful, with the more modern loan formats that began accruing interest from Day 1, making repayment very difficult by someone just starting out in their professional life.
Eventually this is going to have to be reconciled and I suspect the debt holders will take a richly-deserved haircut. I think they deserve one for preying on the young, but then, so did the Universities (in a way). But I do think the students should be on the hook for the principal, because that's one of life's immutable principles. They made the deal, after all. And I do agree that the University systems that motivated this mess ought to also be on the hook for some of the bad debt, not only as comeuppance but also as a way of providing an incentive for future responsible education loans to students of merit.
The root problem here is the outrageous cost of higher education these days. When I attended a California State University in the sixties, tuition was $20 per quarter and all the books for 17 units of freshman engineering were $110. The total cost for a 4-year BS degree - including room and board - was less than $10,000. That wasn't much more than a typical first year salary for a new engineer of $9,000.
For out-of-staters, U.C. Berkeley's professional schools are now more expensive than Stanford's. The fact that Berkeley's tuition was so much lower than competing schools was one big reason why Berkeley could traditionally attract the best and brightest from across the country. That is pretty much gone now. Of course, that's kind of the story with the whole State of California these days.
Many students will extract the maximum from the grants and loans. Much/most of this is not spent on tuition and college related expenses. The number one spending choice is a car, number two a trip and number three partying. I even know people who stay in school past graduation just to milk this for all it's worth. After graduation the focus changes to figuring out how to not pay off the debt. I have a friend who is now 74 who until just a few years ago continued to take a few classes just so he could avoid paying on the loan. Now he is flat broke and lives like a pauper in spite of enjoying high paying jobs his entire working life and he intended this just so he wouldn't ever have to pay off his loans. He worked for Apple for years and every year he would trade in his stock options for a quick profit just so he wouldn't have assets. I have pointed out that today he would undoubtedly be a millionaire if he had purchased and held the stock to which he just shrugs. He never intended to pay off the loans and even though he must suffer to make that a fact he seems to take great satisfaction in that reality. Did I mention he is a Bernie Sanders supporter?