Unnecessary Student Debt- Who's Getting Rich On It?

STUDENT DEBT - People who don't learn from their history are doomed to make the same mistakes again and again.

Case in point here is the present controversy over the enormous student debt incurred to pay for college education. What never seems to make it into the conversation is the fact that this debt shouldn't exist at all.

Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, the father of later Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Jr. aka “Jerry” Brown did a study on what would be the cost to the government in California, if the State advanced the lion's share of the cost of the students' higher education? What he discovered was that within 5 years of graduating, well educated and salaried students paid so much more in state and federal income tax that it more than compensated the State for the money it had initially advanced for the student's education.

In 1969 during my last quarter at UCLA, I paid $80.50 tuition per quarter, a far cry from the many thousands of dollars now charged students. With a summer job and a little help from my parents, I could more than cover the costs of my education without having to exit the university in debt that now forces graduates to take any job, when they graduate, since they now face the additional burdensome cost of paying back the compounding interest and principle of their substantial student debt.

A collateral negative effect of students exiting school with now impending student debt is that they must now start to pay that debt back almost immediately. Their prospective employers know this and low ball them, when it comes to initial salary and benefits employers offer.

What Governor “Pat” Brown understood, but somehow this has gotten lost in the corporate owned and filtered media over the years, that what has made California one of the largest economies in the world -at well over 3 trillion dollars- was having a highly educated population that attracted the nascent computer industry founders and other high tech industries in need of a highly educated workforce.


(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second-generation teacher at LAUSD.)