Ballooning Student Loan Debt Threatens Our Nation’s Future

Graduation candidates celebrated on May 12 at the Centenary College commencement in Hackettstown, N.J. Courtesy of Associated Press. Retrieved from

By Danny Zeng

In a new report released by the Pew Research Center last Thursday, it has become apparent that student loan debt is now more of a burden to more families than ever. Throughout the 1990s, about one in ten households held educational loan debt. Today, that number has doubled to almost one fifth of households. According to the study, increasing student loan debt hurts the lowest income quintile of households the most. In 2007, as a share of the total household income, student loan debt was 15% for the lowest quintile. By 2010, that percentage had gone up to 24%, partly as result of decreasing income. This creates real financial challenges for low-income families, as student loan debt increasingly takes away greater proportion of their wealth. These households will probably have to repay their student loan debt sacrificing living expenses.

Some highlights from the report:

  • Average student loan debt in 2010 was $26,682. About 10% of indebted households have outstanding debt in excess of $62,000, well beyond the median income in this country.
  • For students attending a four-year public university, the average debt was $22,000
  • Almost half (44%) of the outstanding debt were owned by young people under the age of 35
  • Middle and upper-middle households suffered the most in the student loan crisis, with these groups owning 45% of all debt in 2010. For comparison, the poorest two-fifths owned 24%. The middle-fifth proportion had gone up by three percentage points from 2007 to 2010, from 20% to 23%.

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Green Tax on Tuition Dollars to Fund Tree Nursery


Solar Charging Station Outside of Perry Castenada Library

Solar Charging Station Outside of Perry Castenada Library
Photo credit: Gabriella Beltzar | Daily Texan Staff

An article on the front page of DT on Monday explains various uses of the $500,000 strong Green Fee Initiative. Every student pays $5 per long semester as part of tuition toward this fund. The Green Fee Committee is charged with allocating this fund; however, its own website admits that specific allocation guidelines are “yet to be adopted,” causing one to question exactly how does the committee objectively judge the merits of each “green” proposal that comes before it. According to its website, the GFI has funded pricey projects such as the “UT Tree Nursery” for a hefty sticker price of $35,478, “Activity and Service Expansion for the UT Campus Environmental Center ” for $47,025, a bicycle campaign for $32,060, $10,080 for a “solar powered campus,” and thousands of dollars more worth of projects. Is that really a good use of our tuition dollars? O, by the way, just in case that no one finds out about these wonderful things this committee is dictating for the community, the committee allocated $16,350 in 2011-2012 just to publicize these outrageous spending projects. While some projects appear more justifiable than others, the overall concept of coercing all students to pay into this fund by levying a fee as part of tuition is abominable. Considering the skyrocketing cost of higher education that is increasingly pricing middle and working class families from the college market, wouldn’t it be nice – and less bureaucratic – to instead use this money to set up a scholarship fund for gifted students majoring in environmental science? There are better ways to promote sustainability than subjectively awarding common-pooled money toward questionable, seemingly good “green” projects.

They are for the Children?

Stephanie Hayes of Ashe Elementary School reacts to the news that delegates for the Chicago Teachers Union voted to suspend the strike. — Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2012

THE SEVEN-DAY LONG teachers’ strike in Chicago finally ended last night with a compromise deal between the teachers’ union and Ralm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago and former Chief of Staff for President Obama. The teachers’ union have held 350,000 children under hostage over a contract deal with the city. The union boss, Karen Lewis, initially announced strike just hours before school was set to begin last Monday, September 10th. The flash, ambush decision distressed many working parents, whom were forced to find babysitters or call relatives last minute. This instance is not so different from Wisconsin teachers’ union, who forced class cancellation for a few days last year in protest of Governor Scott Walker’s policy against collective bargaining.With the new salary increase in the negotiated contract, put together by union bosses, the city is set to spend additional $74 million on the salary increase the first year alone. Seven days, seven mils. Not bad….

Consider this: if our nation’s teachers would forsake class days for personal aggrandizement, then we have a real education crisis, as teachers no longer put priority on their students. Teachers’ unions have truly poisoned the otherwise honorable profession of teaching. Don’t get me wrong. We have phenomenal teachers in all corners of our country, but teachers and teachers’ union are not always the same. Political interests dominate teachers’ union. The union’s primary role is to negotiate packages and contracts that most benefit its members. That objective is inherently misaligned with that of teachers.

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Remember 9/11: Honor What America Stands For

It’s been 11 years since that horrible day back in 2001 that shocked a nation and indeed the world. Close to 3,000 innocent American lives were lost that dreadful September morning. Our country went into chaos mode for days. Our economy took a hit. America, as an idea, was under attack. America has never been the same again after that day. On this day, 11 years later, we shall not only remember those victims lost and affected by the tragedy, for indeed they and their families deserve our prayers and support, but we shall also recognize the impact of 9/11 on our national politics and policy making. America’s innocence was robbed in that day. The bastion of democracy was under siege. The heart of capitalism was dealt a severe blow. The strength of our freedom has been severely undermined. And yes, the role of government has become ever so expansive, and we need to be aware of this trend amidst intense rhetoric on national security.

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Real Unemployment Rate is Close to 19%

According to an article in the Fiscal Times today, our national unemployment rate could be as high as 19% after taking into consideration those who have stopped looking for work and those whom the Government designates as “underutilized labor,” aka full-timers turned part-time. Even though the official unemployment had gone down 0.2 percentage point from July, this decrease fails to take into account how many people simply stopped looking for jobs.

  • Most analysts were expecting that the economy would add somewhere close to 125,000 jobs this month, but the economy added a mere 97,000 jobs.
  • More importantly, there is currently about 5.2 million people in “long-term” unemployment, or having been jobless for over 27 weeks.
  • To return to pre-recession numbers, the economy needs to create 5 million jobs.
  • Unemployment for young people (20-24 year olds) have actually inched upward from 13.5% to 13.9%. About 2.1 million young people in are unemployed.

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