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Wed Jan 4, 2012, 10:46 PM

Should Student Loans be Dischargeable in Bankruptcy ? [View all]


One of the most cited grievances to come out of Occupy Wall Street is the crushing burden of student loans. I have had a couple of guest posts on the topic including one from Tim Smith who blogs on the Echo Boom. Here, now, is a piece by Alan Collings, who has been devoting himself to the issue.
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Some perspective is needed here. If there is an infectious disease outbreak, the CDC is pretty snappy about warning the public. Similarly for the USGS and earthquakes, NOAA and tsunamis, etc. Should we not expect the same type of response from the Education Department in the face of exponentially increasing student loan debt and astonishingly high default rates? When we were looking at a Trillion dollars in national student loan indebtedness, and the default rate was north of 1 in 4, why wasn’t the Department of Education sounding the alarm? These questions have yet to be posed to those in charge at the Department, but need to be. By Congress. Department staff who should have warned congress and the public but didn’t should be held accountable. This isn’t a question of good government. Rather it would seem that is a question about minimally adequate government.

So the question now is how to “fix what is broken”, to borrow a phrase from President Obama, Secretary Geithner, and others following the most recent State of the Union Address. Gainful employment rules, dickering around with the Pell Grant, and similar activities do nothing here. Neither do the various repayment programs that are being marketed by the higher ed crowd as viable substitutes for the consumer protections that were stripped from the system. Some policy “thought leaders”, in fact, are pointing to these untested, unproven programs as a basis for dramatically increasing the federal loan limits! This is not the direction we want to go. We cannot afford it, and to claim otherwise is hugely irresponsible.

Don’t be distracted by the sophisticated, confusing rhetoric being forced into this debate by those who would maintain the status quo no matter what the cost, or those who would end public support for higher education altogether. Neither extreme has the interests of the citizens at heart. Remember only that reall, this is not a difficult problem. Congress created it by removing fundamental, free-market consumer protections from student loans. Congress can and must fix it by essentially undoing what they did. Quite simply, it begins by returning, at a minimum, the bankruptcy protections that were removed without rational basis (when bankruptcy was the same for student loans as all other loans, far less than 1% of federal loans were discharged this way). With this fundamental, free market mechanism returned, the Department of Education will have a vested interest in compelling the schools to provide a high quality product at a low cost, and at reasonable debt levels.
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read article->
http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2011/12/29/should-student-loans-be-dischargeable-in-bankruptcy/

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Reply Should Student Loans be Dischargeable in Bankruptcy ? [View all]
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