4/11: Student loan debt

Moderated by Rick Badie

Americans’ outstanding student loan debt stands at $1 trillion, higher than credit cards and car loans. Today’s page is devoted to the issue, said by some to be the next financial crisis. The president of the Georgia Student Finance Commission offers tips on borrowing for college. An Atlanta attorney explains how federal bankruptcy law views student loan debt.

16 comments Add your comment


April 10th, 2012
8:13 pm

In addition to sweet deals cut related to bankruptcy, Congress allowed the education to sell accounts to debt collectors. In my case that meant an automatic doubling of debt due to fees added and no recourse to challenge any default except through federal court. Basically, the very thing that the government bad mouthed the credit card industry about was deemed OK for student loans collectors. I went bankrupt, lost a good paying job to greedy corporate folks, was underemployed and unemployed for three years. After one year of trying to get my feet on the ground I was met with a wage garnishment. To date the government has received over $9000 from me and my student loan debt has been reduced by $44. What a country!


April 10th, 2012
9:18 pm

Mr. Connell offers some sensible advise while Mr. Ginsberg wants to reduce accountability by way of returning to old policies. The fact is student loans should be more difficult to qualify for. There is little thought given to repayment of these loans by many of the students who sign on the dotted line.

The other thing that needs to be seriously addressed is the cost of a college education. The runaway rise in the cost of a college degree is completely out of control. Any proposed solutions that do not include address the rising cost of tuition should be dead on arrival.


April 11th, 2012
1:21 am

The cost of a college education is out of control and needs to be reduced. All those years of feeding at the “Hope Scholarship Trough” has made irresponsible pigs out of college administrators. If not a reduction at least a freeze in salaries of all employees is absolutely necessary. Also, the continued consolidation of Georgia public colleges along with the elimination of administrative positions is needed. The use of on-line classes and fewer high priced tenured professors would also help reduce the cost to students.


April 11th, 2012
2:00 am

No sympathy from this corner. The Government backed loans need to be severely curtailed if not eliminated. Want money for school? Go to work or join the military. John, just think how different your life might be if you’d have gone the service route.

There should be a place in the military for everyone of age who wants to join. I’m not at all in favor of wars, declared or undeclared, but a strong military is essential and it would do our country a world of good to have kids trade service for educational benefits and grow up a little instead of diving in over their heads in debt. Our culture is almost to the point where kids feel they’re owed an education beyond High School, which is at once laughable, sad, and unsustainable.


April 11th, 2012
7:04 am

Wher is my comment? It was incredibly lauditory to the AJC.


April 11th, 2012
7:05 am

where is my comment?

Ronnie Raygun

April 11th, 2012
7:16 am

John, Simple solution. Pay off your student loans with a credit card then declare bankruptcy. Corporations and fat cats get to have their debts wiped clean with bankruptcy, why shouldn’t it work for working people?

Mister Pants

April 11th, 2012
7:41 am

Stop taking out loans you can’t afford to pay back. Don’t blame the government, don’t blame greedy corporations. Don’t ask those that have made responsible decisions regarding their education to bail out those who did not.


April 11th, 2012
8:25 am

I can’t wait for my tax dollars to (once again) pay for someone’s bad decisions.


April 11th, 2012
9:00 am

The students took out the loans so they could get an education and had an expectation that they would be able to get a job and pay back those loans. Thanks to the government amd others’ bad decisions, there are no jobs now. So how are the students supposed to pay back their debt? I don’t agree that it’s the taxpayers’ job to pay it back….but the students shouldn’t be vilified.


April 11th, 2012
9:00 am

SAWB — the majority of the loan $$$ went to for-profit schools whose completion rates are horrible! $800 million in guaranteed loans for Georgians in one year to pay for correspondence schools! HOPE is not the cause of this problem…


April 11th, 2012
9:05 am

A couple of changes need to be made before we even think of attacking the people defaulting:

1. Once you enroll, your current tuition rate needs to be locked until your expected graduation date. If you enroll, and the school tells you it will cost $40k, that’s fine, but if it ends up costing $60k, the school needs to take a great deal of blame.

2. Student loans need to be issued in amounts dependent on the major. There’s no valid reason for the government to loan the same amounts of money to a sociology major as an engineering major.

3. Graduates need to be able to extend the amount of time to pay back the loan at a higher interest rate. Self explanatory.


April 11th, 2012
1:34 pm

Mmm yes, let Richard be the decider as to what course of study is valued and what isn’t.

You want more people in engineering? You probably should work on steering people into the field long before they are applying for college loans…just a thought.

Many sociology majors go into social work, criminal justice, and teaching. . . Not exactly glamorous jobs with a prospect of advancement and monetary gain. You would penalize them?

I say this as a gainfully employed sociology graduate (with no loans).


April 11th, 2012
3:10 pm

There is a new option for paying back student loans. It is based on the student’s income after graduation. As the mother of two college students, I am very glad the loans are there and that there are many options for paying them back. I do believe a student needs to be responsible for some of the costs of attending college as they are taking classes. “After you graduate” is a long time in the minds of young people and they don’t realize what paying back very large sums of money will do to them when they do start paying the money back. We gave our children some options and one chose to move to Athens and attend UGA, the other chose to stay home and attend Kennesaw (yes she did get in UGA, but thought it was too big) and live at home. The difference – the one at UGA HAS to keep HOPE or come home and has a loan for a portion of the expenses, the other wants to keep HOPE and have no debt. Both will have very good educations and we have explained, in detail, the difference. There are many ways to pay for college and options to attending college. Students don’t realize, and often parents don’t explain, the many options available.

Ron C.

April 11th, 2012
6:21 pm

Consider too, that not only has tuition gone up in the university system, but let’s not forget all the “extras”:
- luxurious new student centers
- fancy dormitories with every possible amenity
- athletic fees for state-of-the art gyms demanded by this generation
- never-ending technology fees to make everything electronic (the newer the the better, or is it)
- student activity fees that only a small percentage actually use

All this, so now you can see why the cost of higher education has been increasing, making loans the only choice.

Ron C.

April 11th, 2012
6:26 pm

Oh, and one more thing . . . as for scholarships and grants, good luck finding the time and energy to sit down and write all the essays and complete forms. Do you think the universities really want students to have any of this money? I don’t.