With a stroke of his trusty pen, President Barack Obama unilaterally ensured a new generation of Americans will be enslaved to the government.
On June 9, the president announced an additional five million Americans will be eligible for Pay As You Earn – an income-based repayment program that caps monthly student loan payments at 10 percent of income and forgives any unpaid debt after 20 years.
There are no two ways about it: College tuition prices are astronomical. And federally backed student loans have only stimulated the skyrocketing costs.
According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges. For state residents at public colleges, the average price tag was $8,893. For out-of-state residents attending public universities, the cost was $22,203.
U.S. President Barack Obama (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
When you include room and board, textbooks, supplies, and living expenses, those figures grow considerably. The estimated cost of attendance at my alma mater, New York University, is a whopping $63,537 per year.
The Pay As You Earn program does nothing to address the ever-rising tuition prices, and when you consider the median household income in the United States is just over $51,000, it isn’t hard to understand why this country is facing a $1.2 trillion student loan crisis.
This generation of students has been indoctrinated to believe that the only way to ensure success is to earn a four-year degree. All the while, government regulation has further encouraged the idea.
I graduated from NYU in 2013. When I look back at my time at the school, I appreciate it primarily for its proximity to internship opportunities. I had a chance to intern at TheBlaze, NBC News, and Hearst over the course of six semesters and three summers. Those experiences ultimately allowed me to graduate with a full-time job in my chosen profession.
I can safely say I learned more from spending a few hours a day, a few days a week at any one of those places than I did in four years of class. But I also recognize that I wouldn’t have been able to get my foot in the door of any of those organizations had I not been a matriculated student.
While federal internship guidelines claim to be looking out for the worker, they have also ensured those who are not enrolled in some sort of degree program are not legally able to participate in internship programs. Until such regulations are reconsidered, the cycle of students borrowing money to attend school to be eligible for these kinds of opportunities will continue.
The cynic (i.e. me) might look at this situation as part of a larger end game. Two of the most ardent supporters of these student loan modifications are President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who, as both students and educators, just so happen to be the progressive by-products of an overwhelmingly left-leaning university system.
In easing borrowing and repayment regulations, the government is allowing more people than ever to enter the world of higher education and enjoy the musings of life-long academics, who – let’s face it – largely sympathize with the leftist cause. While there are plenty of conservative-minded students who make it through the university system unscathed, the age group is considered a Democratic voting block for a reason.
Furthermore, under Obama’s loan plan, those who go to work in “public service” (the government and non-profits) will have their debt forgiven in 10 years – half the time of those in the private sector. This will surely encourage those struggling to find work to apply for public sector jobs that, much to the chagrin of small government-minded Americans, will further grow the already bloated government.
Mike Rowe appears in a web exclusive for TheBlaze. (TheBlaze TV)
So what is the solution?
Some like Mike Rowe (of Discovery Channel’s "Dirty Jobs" fame) are making a strong case for trade schools. Through his foundation, mikeroweWORKS, Rowe is challenging the notion that a four-year degree is only path to success. The foundation awards scholarships to high school students who have demonstrated an interest in mastering a specific trade.
During an appearance on the Glenn Beck Program last year, Rowe said that of the roughly three million jobs companies are struggling to fill, only 8 to 12 percent require a college degree. Rowe has also spoken on Capitol Hill about the skills gap in this country.
The simplest answer to this growing problem is to take the government out of the student loan business entirely, which would force tuition prices down. But with such a solution nowhere in sight, it is time to start having a serious conversation – within families and high schools – about the value of alternative education and the real meaning of success.
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.