By Professor Doom
I’m sometimes asked if our increasing suicide rate is due to the student loan scam. As eager as I am to blame things on it, I’m a little reluctant to do so. After all, around 28% of students with such debt don’t even know it—they’ve been completely scammed by college administrators who haven’t bothered to tell them the debts they accrue, much less see to it they’re taught the basics of finance. They can’t kill themselves over debts they don’t know they have.
Do the math there: we have around 50,000,000 citizens with student loan debt, and well over 10,000,000 of them didn’t even know they were taking on debt because of fraud by our higher education system. Any time our accreditors want to stop this, they can, because every school taking student loan money puts in writing that they will act with integrity as part of accreditation, which could shut them down instantly for fraud (i.e., lack of integrity), but I digress.
Still, walking out of college, $30,000 in debt, with a degree that merits nothing more than the barista job the graduate could have gotten 6 years earlier, could be pretty depressing, so I can see how some suicides can be attributed to student loans.
A recent headline seems to promise that I’ll get some information so I can better answer the question next time I’m asked about debt-related suicide:
Till debt do us part: Tuition loan burden is literally killing US college grads
If you’re going to use a phrase like “literally killing” you’d better back it up with actual bodies. Let’s hear what they have to say.
The mounting cost of a US college degree has not only discouraged would-be students from pursuing a higher education; it has triggered mental health issues too. But is hyper-capitalist America ready for free education?
I’m quoting from RT, Russia Today, so I’m always going hear the accented “kyep-it-al-ist” when I read “capitalist” here. I sure hope the mounting costs are discouraging students from going to college, but it shouldn’t discourage them from pursuing a higher education—between the internet and our library system, anyone who wants a classical education can get one for free, no further capitalism required.
“Free education” is already here, and more of us would have it but that we’re forced to spend so many years in the “free” public school system, which has done little beyond enstupidate wide swaths of our population.
Having a massive debt hanging over your head and no way to pay for it could certainly cause some mental health issues. So…about those bodies?
…a recent survey by Student Loan Planner, college graduates are experiencing high levels of emotional stress due to their current situations, to the point of actually contemplating suicide.
The survey of 829 people showed, among other things, that one-in-15 student loan borrowers have had suicidal thoughts due to their financial situation; nine-in-10 borrowers felt significant anxiety due to their loan burden; one-in-9 borrowers who owe $80,000 to $150,000 in student loan debt also contemplated suicide…
Well, there it is, then. Again doing the math, well over 3 million of our citizens have considered suicide as an escape from student loans. I remind the gentle reader the reason why so many would consider such a permanent solution is because you can’t get rid of student loans, even ones so high they cannot possibly be paid, any other way: no bankruptcy will clear them.
RT then pushes the “free college” angle:
Why isn't a college education in the United States free-of-charge, exactly like it is in dozens of other countries? The short answer is that America is first and foremost a cutthroat corporate jungle that indulges in something that was summed up long ago as 'socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.' In other words, the entire system is rigged to the advantage of the rich. Indeed, it is the lower and middle class that must take out high-interest loans to pay for their educations, while the offspring of the golden one-percent are wealthy enough to pay cash, and in some cases even bribes, as one recent criminal investigation revealed.
While the above is basically true, there’s an error of omission in not mentioning higher education in “other countries.” In other countries, getting into college isn’t a sure thing, because they don’t have wide open admissions. Only people willing to study and work hard can get into those “free” schools, whereas here everyone with an opposable thumb can get a loan.
But, yes, the rich don’t take out those loans. Obviously. Our whole student loan system was founded on "everyone can now go to college," but nobody mentions how much this system punishes those who can't already pay for it.
I really should point out, there was a time where getting a scholarship for college was in many ways easier than today. Schools used to be interested in attracting good students, and so used scholarships to do it. Now, schools are so desperate for that student loan dollar that they don’t care about getting good students…anyone will do.
RT then advocates for the “free college for all” plan, paid for via taxes from wealthy corporations. It’s a neat theory, but the gentle reader should know that over a century ago, a similar plan was made so that everyone “could” go to high school. And now many of our “free” high schools are war zones, and the average high school graduate reads at the 7th grade level, worse than when, in the early 20th century, an 8th grade education was considered pretty good. Seeing as “free high school for everyone” has obviously failed, why would we suspect “free college for everyone” would work? RT left out the key issue of restricting admissions, but the fact, buried within the article, remains:
Our student loan scam is leading people into suicide. Just end it already.