Recently I read a newspaper article about school teachers buried in loans from their college days. The article appeared in a big city newspaper. It featured the plight of three public school teachers, all of whom are struggling with large student debt.
The Internet tells us that the average debt incurred by college students is about $30,000.00. That is the average. About 42% are able to avoid debt, so lots and lots of people are going much deeper in debt that $30,000.00.
I won’t link to the article. Nor will I name the three teachers featured. This is to protect the innocent. No, I’m joking; actually it is to protect the guilty. The people featured are very silly people. But their individual foolishness is not the major point I am trying to make. People this foolish are legion, numberless, a horde, a flood. I am not trying to embarrass three people, and single them out as if they are particularly foolish. No, their stories are routine, commonplace. Still, the three individual stories are examples which teach us.
So I will refer to X, Y, and Z. They are real people. X wins the cigar or coconut for having racked up the most debt. The amount? I’m glad you asked. About $130,000.00. That is not a misprint. $130,000.00. X is in his mid forties now . . . and he has $130,000.00 worth of student debt. He tells us he has had every type of experience with student loans–including default, deferment, and consolidation. Did you get that? Default was one of his experiences. So he gets the money and doesn’t pay it all back. Still, he continues to owe $130,000.00.
X, like Y and Z, is hoping the government Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will release him from his debt. His wife also is a teacher and also has debt. She hopes to be rescued also.
Y is in her early 30s. She incurred $60,000.00 of debt in college. Her plea is like that of X. “Save me, Public Service Loan Forgiveness program!” (My words, not hers.)
Z is in her late 30s. After her college years, she had about $36,000.00 debt for student loans. About sixteen years later she still owes $16,000.00. So this budding rocket scientist has paid off about $1,250.00 a year on the principle, on average. She points out that if she didn’t have to make her monthly payment on the college debt, she would have money to do other things, including pay other debts. Being deeply in debt for college loans was not enough for her. She has other debts also.
One thing we have probably all noticed about our current crop of American citizens, is that almost everyone has a sense of entitlement. We all feel like we are entitled to good things. It is our right to have them. If we don’t have them, we are being cheated. The three people featured in this article come well up to the national average in that regard.
But again, X sets the pace. He thinks all student loans should be forgiven. Moreover, all education should be free. What he does, educating people, is supposedly what makes society flourish, so if we want society to flourish, we need to make education free.
Which means, in practice, that people who work for a living and pay taxes, are going to have the great joy of giving a completely free ride to people like X, Y, and Z.
Now I want to back up a bit, and try to get to basic principles. First of all, no Christian should be involved in public education, as teacher or student. How dare we expect our taxpaying friends, neighbors, and enemies, to pay for the education of our children, or to pay us a salary because the civil government extorts money from working people who are forced to pay taxes at the point of a gun? We Christians believe in limited civil government–until we don’t. Suddenly we are no longer for small government, when it comes to our jobs in public education, or when it comes to who pays for the education of our children.
Second, the Bible tells us to avoid serious debt. “The rich rules over the poor,/And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (Proverbs 22:7) The three people featured in the newspaper article are perfect examples of people who, because they are slave-minded, turn themselves into slaves paying interest year after year.
So, any debt we have, we should pay it off very quickly. And we should have an absolute commitment to pay all our debts in full. Default, bankruptcy, should not be options for serious Christians. The three people featured are, once again, completely horrible examples. Instead of going to work to pay back their debt quickly, they just piddled around. X even defaulted in part.
Third, college should be avoided by most people. Get a job. Learn a trade. What is your aptitude? We need plumbers, carpenters, electricians, accountants. Business school, or trade school, is a reasonable option for some of us. Just working for a living at a low paying job is a wonderful thing also. We need people who are simply willing to give an honest day’s work.
If you are gifted in the hard sciences, fantastic. In that case, you may need to attend college. But you should be planning to be among the 42% who exit college with no debt, or with minuscule debt that can be paid off in one or two years.
Fourth, every Christian should learn to budget money wisely. (It is something even non-Christians can do, of course.) For a Christian, that includes learning to tithe (pay 10%) of one’s increase to a local church. A Christian who learns to tithe is well on his way to learning how to budget money. A Christian, unlike X, Y, and Z, is not entitled. He lives in the real world–or should want to do so.
Fifth, if you are interested in, or possibly gifted in, things like history, or fiction, you don’t need college. You need to be reading, reading, reading, and, in your spare time, reading. Get a job of some sort, and read. We need tens of thousands of Christians who care passionately about truth, about ideas, about the arts. You don’t need to go to college to become an historian. You need to love truth, and you need to put in the work reading on your own.
Sixth, college debt is a welfare program for bankers. The interest on college debt is about 5.8%. (This in an economy in which you and I are getting less than one-tenth of 1% interest on our checking accounts!) The poor foolish students are enticed to run up enormous debts, and the bankers collect huge interest with the government expected to make up any shortfall.
Seventh, for most of us, college is a bad investment. Four years of working at a modest salary of $20,000.00 a year, would give you $80,000.00. So the average college graduate is already $80,000.00 behind, since he didn’t earn $20,000.00 a year for four years. Instead, he incurred $30,000.00 worth of debt. So though he is “only” $30,000.00 in debt, in reality he is $110,000.00 behind after four years.
X, Y, and Z are silly people. They are completely unaware that they are foolish. They just went with the flow, and assumed that the world owes them a comfortable living. Now these silly people are teaching our children in public schools. The bare fact that people this idiotic are teaching our children should make us run, screaming like a chicken, from the public schools. That is leaving aside completely the question of whether public education should exist–which it shouldn’t.
Avoid college debt. Better yet, avoid both college debt and college. Do we really want to send our children off to Woke U., to begin life with $30,000.00 worth of debt after being brainwashed for four years?