The Student Loan Conversation

Kristen Hawley

Every eighteen months or so, a new student loan study or article or opinion piece makes the rounds online, in print, and then usually capped by a segment on the Today Show or similar broadcast outlet. These pieces, relevant to my own interests, tend to start with an anecdote talking about a liberal arts grad living at home for years after graduation unable to get a job in his/her field. Usually that field is something like philosophy, and the school is an expensive four-year east coast private school — but there are plenty of variations on this theme. In the last few years, the angle has shifted from reporting on these unlucky liberal arts grads to professionals who dodged the flailing economy by borrowing to work toward a Master’s Degree, teaching certificate, or other professional certification to improve their chances of employment. Often, these advanced degrees didn’t help, leaving skilled, educated and trained professionals worse off financially than before their continued education. Most of these articles compare the current state of the student loan market to the housing crisis with an increasing sense of urgency. Two years ago, there was a “Student Loan Bubble” but now there’s a Student Loan Debt Crisis.