My bilingual economics students are doing a budget project. The project assumes they have graduated from college with a degree of their choice. One line item needed for their final paper is student loan payments. I told the community college grads to put $150/month and the four-year grads to put $250/month. We broke down the details a little, discussing how you can pay for longer and pay less each month but will then pay more overall, for example.
At first, they were all saying, “oh, no, I won’t have loans. I am going to get financial aid.” These are all seniors with one exception. They just expected to be handed the money, no doubt in many cases because they will be the first member of their family to attend college. They don’t know how it works. Loans are an expected part of financial aid, I explained, and I had picked an average amount, assuming around $20,000 being paid over 10 years.
The loan put one kid into the red and may do the same for other kids in class. This is a paper exercise. The exercise reflects real life, though, and this push, push, push for college seems a pretty cruel thing to do to a kid who can’t write an intelligible English paragraph. U.S. test scores suggest we have a lot of these kids, not all of them in bilingual classes. We need to create more realistic options or at least bridge programs for these kids.
Banks try not to loan money to people who will be unable to make their house payments. (Or should try!) They ought to extend the same courtesy to young adults whose education loans are highly unlikely to end in a degree.