Thursday, July 25, 2013

Student Loan Rates: Meh.

Lots of noise about the Senate bill passing (Bipartisan! Helping Students!), but it just mostly is not helpful.  There are two somewhat separate student loan problems: current and future.  The current problem is with people who have [recently] graduated into a crap economy with a mortgage worth of debt to pay off.  These people, who might be helped somewhat with lower interest rates, are not addressed, because--unlike pretty much every other type of debt on the planet--YOU CAN'T REFINANCE STUDENT LOANS.  People "lucky" enough to have 2, 3, 4% interest: good for you.  Those who have 5, 6, 7% interest: tough shit.

The other problem is the level of the debt (not the interest on it), and low interest rates, if they do anything, will make that worse.  If you make the price of money much lower for a specific activity (going to college in this case) then people will over-consume that good, and so the price of college will rise faster than it would otherwise.  So lowering student loan rates going forward may actually lead to higher debt levels for future students while doing nothing for current graduates with lots of outstanding debt.

We need low cost or free college education available to everyone, and we need to address the outstanding debt of [recent] graduates.  All this fucking around about the student loan rates is more distraction than help.  Yes, it may help quite a few current students, but at the expense of future students, and to the detriment of our nation, if education is in fact a driver for economic growth.

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