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WHO REALLY GETS HURT

August 7, 2017

 

He said, she said. You did it. No you did it! It’s all your fault! Usually when people are going back and forth like this in a situation they are arguing over who is going to get the blame. Nine times out of ten neither party are the ones being hurt by the wrongdoing. It is usually a third party that gets hurt. That third party had nothing to do with the situation and yet they are the ones who suffer.

In 2008 the government was blaming the banks and the monitoring agencies for the global collapse of the housing market. Each one of them in that blame game never seen their houses taken, their retirement emptied, their cars repossessed, their pensions dismantled. Nope! None of them felt the weight of their behavior, only middle and lower income people and families felt the tragedy known as the Great Recession.

The banks have went back to their profits and families around the country are still recovering. They are getting up on their feet and moving forward more each day. The Great Recession was a crisis that could have brought the world to a financial end, but today something different is brewing. Brewing under the surface and not many people are talking about it. Maybe they are not talking about it because it doesn't affect them or maybe they are not talking about it because they think nothing will happen. That it will all pass over eventually.

Those who were instrumental in the housing crisis said the same sentences and look how that turned out. In higher education people are saying don’t worry. State funding definitely will come back. Federal funding will pick up the slack. It will get better. While higher ed is saying these reassuring sentences to the world, the world especially the political world is thinking differently. While these two enter into the phase of he said, she said guess you is squarely in the crosshairs? Students.

Students that all they want out of life is to get a college education and move on to the career of their dreams. Be in a position to one day buy a home and live the American dream. The American dream. Sounds familiar doesn't it? That was the mindset of want to be homeowners in the 2000’s and it worked for a while and then it came crashing down. Now there are situations happening all over the country. Not new situations, but worsening situations.

State after state are stretching the limits of the institutions in their states. They continue to reduce funding each year and if they increase it many now know that the funding will never get back to pre 2008 levels. I can name states like Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Washington, Iowa, South Carolina, North Carolina, and the list goes on and on! So the states are pulling away, but the federal will always be there. Right? Obviously not. In the past few months there has been talks about ending the public service loan forgiveness program (PSLF), discontinuing subsidized loans, trimming the work study program, and more. Those who are making these statements, those that are pushing these policies will not be hurt by their actions. Students will.

It will be students like the one I spoke in front of at the University of Akron a few weeks ago. After the event I was sharing about how the PSLF may be eliminated and the next words out of her mouth was “guess I'm not going to be a teacher now!” That one policy threat potentially steered a college student from her passion and denied future k-12 students a great and caring teacher. How about the student who needs that work study. They are not doing it for experience they are at that work study for the money! Take that money away and you just put another barrier in front of that student. It will be the students that will be hurt financially if they are only able to have unsubsidized loans. The $1.4 TRILLION dollar student loan debt crisis will explode. If you think graduates are not buying homes today and not participating in the economy just wait for the impact of this policy. The economy surely will slow down.

All of that above is just the tip of the iceberg. There will be students all over the country dropping out of college with debt they can’t pay back because they don’t have the degree to get the job with the salary to pay it back! College is a way for students in low and middle income families to gain upward mobility and that will erode if certain policies are put in place. The students are in position to get hurt the most, but they will not be the only ones.

If students are dropping out of colleges then what does that do to a college’s bottom line? It means less money which means budget cuts. Budget cuts means departments get eliminated and jobs go away. You may be in higher ed and saying to yourself our retention numbers are great! We know how to keep students in college! Great! You are able to get money from them for four years, and guess what that is no longer enough! This new world coming will force institutions to figure out a way to get money for decades because endowments have no choice, but to grow. Adjustments must be made and they need to be made yesterday!

Recently I spoke at the Higher Ed Financial Wellness Summit and I spoke about those adjustments that higher ed must make in order to make sure their students don't get hurt by potential policies. I shared strategies that will financially prepare the student for any financial strain that may appear in the future. Also prepared those at the institution to take the possible financial hits coming their way. A new world is upon us and those that adjust will be the ones who survive.  

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