How it all began

The responsibility for this country’s unbelievable student debt crisis has several characters and institutions contributing to its current state. Here is a brief synopsis on how it all began, starting with the government.

There is an inexcusable situation enveloping this country. Parents cannot afford to send their kids to college, and without a degree those future taxpayers will not be able to achieve the American dream. The lenders, hearing of this, propose a solution to this shameful situation. The educational institutions want in on the action and, along with the lenders, engage in intense lobbying pressures on elected representatives, persuading them, with unsubstantiated facts and enticements, into agreeing that this solution is doable and passes legislation to “solve” America’s problem.

To make it all work, the influencers need the buy-in of those parents and grandparents (cosigners), convincing them this is a gift from Uncle Sam. Consequently, they jump on the bandwagon, signing on the dotted line, and opting out of their parental responsibility to teach and protect their families from potentially long-term, life-challenging, financial issues.

The real beneficiaries are the financial and educational institutions, along with the federal government. But what about the families?

After spending a great deal of time researching this issue and interviewing parents and students, I’ve come to this conclusion: The majority of today’s parents sending their children to college are enablers. They avoid and fail to take an aggressive approach to make sure their comingof- age young adults are prepared to deal effectively with money matters. In too many cases, this flawed role model is taken on by their children and carried over to the next generation, thereby perpetuating a troublesome cultural issue.

They often accept at face value misleading and incomplete information promoted by the federal government and various financial and educational institutions that the only way their little darlings can get better jobs, earn more money, and achieve the American Dream is with a college education. Consequently, an unbelievable number of parents and students have placed themselves at great financial risk by borrowing their way into “educated poverty.”

Unlike today’s pharmaceutical advertisements that are required to openly list the side effects of their drugs, there is no such disclosure on the part of student loan lenders, unless it is tucked away (buried) in the fine print of the loan instrument. The fine print needs to be magnified and specifically addressed by the lender to the borrower.

However, it is the gullibility factor and/ or possibly the naivety of the uninformed and emotion-driven student borrowers who trust the lender to do the right thing on their behalf. This, of course, is what predatory lenders feast on, knowing full well when the borrower walks through their door that it’s like the sheep coming home to be sheared.

These parents, in their less-aggressive posture toward life, are only too willing to shift and place the responsibility of financing their child’s education in the hands of others, as they haven’t prepared themselves for this day. In so doing, they step into the lion’s den of lenders, misplacing their trust, and blindly believing the government will lead them to the Promised Land. The wailing begins once they realize they have been led not to the Promised Land but down into an abyss of debt where the devil is waiting to collect his due. This abyss might possibly take them forever and a day to climb out of and some never will.