Wendler’s Commentary: Student Debt

The following is comprised of quotes from previously published thoughts on student debt.

For 15 years I have written about the consequences students face when they borrow too much. There is no miracle solution. What will reduce indebtedness? Personal and corporate responsibility – repeatedly exercised by the student and the institution. Universities and their leaders need to be honest with the students who come through their doors. Many times I tell students that if they need to borrow money in the first two years of college, go to a community college. It’s a bold statement, but I stand by it. To read the reflections referenced below, visit walterwendler.com and search by title.

“The court of public opinion and everyday scholarship have delivered their decision in action – the middle class is not just a good idea, but the essence of a free society.” “The creation of a middle class” August 15, 2008

“Combining dual enrollment with highly articulated transfer agreements between the community college and the local university has the effect of reducing the cost of a bachelor’s degree by 50 percent. “Cutting Costs for College Students” January 16, 2009

Universities, it is hoped inadvertently, are training generations to avoid responsibility for their actions. It is shameful. Such training engenders an expectation of entitlement that undermines initiative, industry, courage, autonomy, community and discourages students from exercising one of the greatest benefits of higher education: the ability to act in an enlightened way. “Action does not come from thought, but from a disposition to responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer “Our universities: I am ashamed” November 2, 2011

“Unfortunately, too many institutions are saying ‘yes’ to students who are not ready to study: they are hungry for the loans that students are ready to take. There is an institutional responsibility in this burden of debt. “Debt and Learning: Cause and Effect” May 27, 2013

“A ‘cash cow’ degree that offers easy access and low utility through interest-capped federally subsidized loans undermines the integrity of higher education from within.” “Fifteen Dollars a Week” August 6, 2013

“Our universities must be imaginative in finding ways to reduce and align the costs of higher education.” “The stakeholders on the student debt plan must put their skin in the game” June 17, 2014

“Cardiovascular disease, cancer, type II diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, COPD, arthritis, cataracts and osteoporosis are unfortunate and common, to varying degrees as people age. Now, adding insult to injury, a growing number of aging Americans have college debt that they won’t pay off until they die. “Social Security and University Debt” July 16, 2019

“I tell every prospective student, ‘Don’t attend West Texas A&M University if you have to borrow in your first two years. Go to community college and tell us about every step of the way. “The real problem of student debt” April 9, 2019

“Borrowing with insufficient return on investment is reckless. Borrowing for non-essentials is a big mistake. Borrowing for expensive choices when similar lower cost alternatives are available is a misjudgment. Borrowing on the assumption that someone else is footing the bill is immoral. Borrowing to have a good time without worrying about the long-term consequences is a step north of stupidity. “Student debt” August 15, 2021

“By being honest and direct, I tell students that if I could guarantee them that the college education we offer at West Texas A&M University would make them happy, we would be the greatest university on the planet. I have to tell them that it is a guarantee that is not offered. “Happy Now” October 3, 2021

“This continuing cycle of excessive borrowing is damaging both borrowers and our national economy.” “The Debt Debacle” December 13, 2021

“Student debt may be just the tip of the iceberg sinking a free society.” “Student debt: a national, state, institutional or personal problem” 2 January 2022

“When combined, predatory lenders, dishonest universities, and up-and-coming politicians all have their part in the global student debt crisis.” “College Debt and Single Parents” January 9, 2022

“No community bears the burden of school debt. Individual citizens do this and therefore must choose their path carefully and wisely. “School Debt in Various Communities” January 16, 2022

“The burden of debt and failure is a mighty punch that should be overcome with transparency and an action plan to help underdogs come back from behind.” “Coming from behind” January 30, 2022

At West Texas A&M University, we have worked diligently to educate students about the costs and benefits of higher education. Under Chancellor John Sharp and the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, tuition for Fall 2022 has not increased. In 2021, WT’s total fees for tuition and fees were $4,610 – where we ranked in the lowest quartile among public universities. The statewide average was $5,205. We are working to reduce local indebtedness and control costs for the benefit of students. The e-book, “Student Debt” is available on the WT website.

Walter V. Wendler is president of West Texas A&M University. His weekly columns are available at https://walterwendler.com/.

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