With student loans becoming a larger economic crisis in the United States than ever before, we sought viewpoints from current students as to what the top concerns were, and what options we had as a country to begin fixing the issue. Dina Masri sent in an article posing the idea that graduates are now spending years trying to pay off loans rather than starting up new companies and better utilizing their innovative and creative sides on new endeavors to move the country forward. If corporations are excited to recruit from certain top universities, shouldn’t they play a stronger part in their partnership with the institutions from an earlier stage? Perhaps developing programs and paths that better guide students into “hireable” degrees would be a benefit to the majority of students, as well.
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Student loans are a crisis for the economy and for college students and who spend years working to pay off their loans rather than spending that time and creative energy building their own businesses. The trillions of dollars that are invested in supporting student loans could be used to improve infrastructure, and build small businesses which could help create more jobs, while building a stronger economy. Corporations who are looking to hire specific talent must step in to help change the trend in the decisions students are making regarding their majors of studies. Governments must modify their policies to help encourage students to pursue degrees that teach skills essential to the US economy.
There are millions of vacant jobs in the US, and yet the underemployment rate is about 10% for college graduates. This is not considering the low wages that most college graduates are settling for when accepting offers for the sake of being employed. There is a clear discourse between the job market opportunities, and the majors that students are choosing. The two biggest talent gaps in the US are in the technology sector, as well as medical fields. Employment should be a strong motivator for a student investing thousands of dollars in their education.
Educational institutions are the “factories” producing talent for our corporations. The government must step in and enforce policies for educational institutions to collaborate with corporations on funding and directing students. If a company is hiring 15 engineering graduates a year from a specific university, the corporation should have a responsibility to encourage more students to pursue the market demanded field in the form of scholarships. If corporations begin sponsoring the majors of study that are essential to the success of their businesses, then more students will make the “market smart decision”. Even students who do not receive the scholarships, will become aware of the opportunities that technical and medical majors offer, and are more inclined to pursue them. Those demanded fields better ensure that a student will be able to pay back their student debt, while encouraging more students to study majors that will build our economy.
The government must also step in and enforce laws to reform the trend for the majors of study chosen by students. Thousands of US based jobs are being filled by H1B Visa holders because there is simply not enough talent on US grounds for where the market demand lies. Corporations who sponsor an H1B Visa holder should be required to contribute the equivalent amount of the position’s salary towards the education of a US citizen who is pursuing a degree to attain the desired qualifications for that position. The government should not prevent H1B holders from filling vacant positions because if they are not filled, the growth of the economy would be stunted. Rather, businesses should take these applicants as an example of the skills they should advocate for in the form of funding.
To encourage students to pursue majors that are essential to the growth of the US economy, the government should implement conditional forgiveness policies for specific majors such as engineering, computer science, medicine, and pharmacy. For example, if a student graduates from a 4 year institution with a computer science degree and pays off 70% of their debt within the first 5 years of graduating, then the remaining debt should be forgiven. This encourages students to pursue computer science, seek a high playing and challenging position, and pay off their debt as soon as possible.
Allowing students to declare bankruptcy will not benefit the student or the economy. Bankruptcy will remain on a student’s record, while making other investments in the student’s life such as buying a house more difficult. If the government allows students to declare bankruptcy then other sectors of the economy such as housing will suffer. The government should address the problem with student debt at the source, which begins when the student chooses their major of study.