A recent report released by the Institute of Higher Education Policy found that for every federal student loan borrower that defaults, at least two others become delinquent without default.
Access to higher education was the mantra at a New America forum held in March to discuss the report. Despite the talk about access, few experts are willing to confront the reality that the current student financial aid system has not improved access in a meaningful way. The current policy of throwing government money, mostly in the form of loans, at just about anybody who wants to try going to college is clearly not improving access. Many students start education through this policy, but too many never finish. They leave school buried in debt.
There is an important debate going on about how to ensure that federal dollars, particularly in the for-profit higher education sector, are going to schools that can provide successful outcomes for their students. This is a critical debate, but we also must focus on the “back-end” of the student loan equation.
Student loans are going to be around for a while, but there is no reason why student loan borrowers should be subjected to such draconian collection policies. Why aren’t all of the people who claim to be so worried about equal access also fighting to restore a statute of limitations for student loans, restore bankruptcy rights, reduce collection fees, and stop the outrageous offset of Social Security and earned income tax offsets?
Too many in the higher education community are silent on these issues, making sure that the dollars keep flowing to their institutions while the government keeps granting itself more and more collection powers.