Frank Fleming offers a modest proposal to solve the student loan and debt problem: Set a minimum age of 30 for college loans.
In a sane world, if a teenager walked into a bank and said, “I would like a $50,000 loan to major in modern dance,” the bank manager would call security, who would then pummel the stupid kid, and everyone would end up smarter for it. But what happens instead is that Uncle Sam walks by and says, “I like his moxy. Give him the loan; I’ll guarantee it. And I’ll make sure he can’t ever get out of his stupid choice through bankruptcy.” So they give this giant amount of money to a dumb kid, and then the colleges are waiting outside, saying, “Hey! They’re giving huge loans to moron teenagers; we need to get some of that money!” So we have colleges preying on these gullible saps, increasing costs while their diplomas plummet in value in a complete mockery of our capitalistic system.
We don’t let 18-year-olds buy alcohol, Fleming points out. Why let them borrow huge sums of money? If the borrowing age for student loans was set at 30, borrowers “might actually have some idea of what money is and what debt means.”
And having had to make a living without a college education, by age 30 they’ll hopefully understand what they need higher education for and get a functional degree instead of majoring in something like philosophy (and it’s kind of ironic, because if you major in philosophy, you obviously do need more training in how to think).
Fleming also has suggestions for the inevitable bailout of student debtors: “We should at least randomly select some of them to fight to the death for our amusement in the Debt Games.”
Subsidizing student loans benefits middle-class — and sometimes affluent — students at a time when grants to low-income students are about to go over a “funding cliff.”