The Social Impact of Student Debt

Anyone over the age of 45 remembers a predominant cash economy.  You mortgaged a home only, everything else was cash, including tuition.  How things have changed!    What has not changed are the dominant social achievements & institutions that underwrite upper-middle class lifestyles, these include capital formation, health insurance, post-graduate credentials and vacations.  All of these are unwritten by full time employment.

So is marriage!

But I’ll get to that one another time.  Its a related topic if only because so many young people today make the presumption that if you’re married you’ve got your life together.  Interesting correlation.

The Federal Reserve’s own studies correlating numerous social, demographic currents embodying social mobility are rarely if ever mentioned in the public; why reveal miserable output when our public institutions do such a fine job of pronouncing intentions!  The truth is a very ugly reality when it comes to education, debt and social mobility.  According to the Federal Reserve’s own studies, the cost of college tuition has outgrown costs in health care, credit cards, auto loans and refinancings. The annual debt burden for tuition is $1.3 trillion dollars and rising.

The damaging results are ubiquitous.

Graduating students delay marriage.  They delay children.  Both trends reveal a startling economic and social arrangement for aspirations.  This social group postpones mortgages, cars and numerous other capital intensive purchases that secure one’s social standing when paid in full.  Nearly 45% of all college graduates return home after school.

Just ask your neighbor.

These self imposed challenges remain because mandatory fiscal spending is politically enshrined and untouchable.

These realties only match the pathetically weak recovery that began in June 2009.  Past generations implicitly knew that standards of living rose.  We have saddled ourselves to honor the social, political achievements unfit to navigate our immediate future.  Are we up for the challenge?  The conservative wing of the G.O.P. is ready, anyone else?

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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