Student loan debt has reached crisis level, with the nation collectively owing more than $1.3 trillion and a major issue during the run up to election in the U.S. While it may not be the main complaint now that President Trump has become the 45th president of the U.S., it is still a big issue, so much so that the University Berkeley will feature a panel discussion on student debt during The Berkeley Forum.
The discussion, which is slated for April 11, will include Sandy Baum, author of “Student Debt: Rhetoric and Realities of Higher Education,” Robert Hiltsonsmith, Senior Policy Analyst at think tank Demos and Kevin Fudge, Manager of Government Relations and Community Affairs at American Student Assistance.
Student debt is not only the borrowers’ problem; it is impacting all parts of the economy. Excessive debt is preventing people from buying a home, starting a family, and even launching their own businesses.
An October report by Freddie Mac, a mortgage lender backed by the government, was a great example of student loan debt’s impact on young adults. It found that homeownership continued to decline among those under 35, a group typically considered first-time buyers. Though Freddie Mac did not directly blame the student loan crisis, it is a reasonable tie to make.
Meanwhile, the Student Loan Report’s Student Debt Impact Report of July 2016, found 47 percent of college-educated Americans with student loans have put off purchasing a car. The survey also found that 34 percent have delayed getting married, while 73 percent have delayed starting to save for retirement.
The panel discussion is expected to be a lively one given Baum’s book is intended to “expose” what the author says is a misleading narrative on the problem of student loan debt in the country. Baum is also a Senior Fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute and a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Skidmore College in New York.
Meanwhile, Hiltsonsmith, along with her employer, Demos, has been an advocate for helping borrowers get out from under student debt. On Demos’ website, the company acknowledges that debt is now becoming a prerequisite for a college degree but that mounting evidence shows student debt may be much more detrimental to a person’s financial future than previously thought.
Kevin Fudge is also an advocate for student borrowers as the Manager of Government Relations and Community Affairs at American Student Assistance, a nonprofit focused on helping students navigate the ever complex education financing market.
On its website, the American Student Assistance says “we believe higher education is the gateway to opportunity and we believe that gateway should be accessible to all. For too many students, paying for college is an all-out barrier or a life-crushing burden, and we fight the system that blocks that access.” With all of those strong feelings about a crisis that’s impacting everyone from millennials to baby boomers, the forum should be a lively and eye opening one.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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