By Matt Rooney

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You’re going to read/hear a lot about student loans this week, Save Jerseyans. That’s because President Trump’s new spending plan would make some big changes to future borrowers’ loan opportunities including eliminating subsidized loans utilized by roughly 5.7 million students for the 2016-2017 academic year

Unpopular opinion: the college loan process should be as difficult as obtaining a mortgage.

Our culture also needs to stop treating college as an entitlement, one which will compensate for the glaring deficiencies of our primary and secondary public schools.

If you were a middling student in high school but now want to take out a $250k loan to study handpan music?

Sorry! You shouldn’t qualify.

The fact that such a person CAN currently qualify for substantial student loan debt is the #1 reason why higher education is so damn expensive; the government is creating artificial demand by subsidizing people who should be in trades school, taking time to work/attend community college before making a lifetime commitment, or even considering an alternative path for payment like ROTC.

18 year old kids shouldn’t be put in a position where they’re going to owe a mortgage’s worth of debt before they’re old enough to buy a beer. There’s time enough to do things the right way at that age (see above). Some of my most successful friends did NOT rush their education. It’s not necessary.

Unfortunately, our government offers teenagers easy or “free” money up front before exacting a heavy price on the back end when – surprise! – the exorbitantly expensive liberal arts degree turns out to be worth considerably less than it cost to obtain in the job market. Owing $300, $500, $1,000 or more per month on a $35,000 per year salary? Good luck. 

Our economy has paid the price for these failures with record underemployment due, in part, to the inability of businesses to find workers who are qualified for a myriad of skilled positions. Our economy needs STEM students and skilled laborers, not majors in basket weaving and Medieval music. The only “winners” in this trillion dollar scam — which is worse than the subprime mortgage scam in almost every way – are the text book companies and college loan predators like Elizabeth Warren, a pathetic fraud who infuriatingly rails against “the rich” while laughing all the way to the bank. Credit card companies win big, too, since it conditions millennials for a lifetime of carrying more debt month-to-month than with which anyone should be comfortable. 

America’s kids deserve better.

And it’s not just about revamping the loan process. I already mentioned that colleges are increasingly expected to fill a compensatory function for pre-college educations which fall far short of the academic mark. Until we fix our public schools? Producing college freshman who already know how to write, add, subtract and reason before orientation? A university education will never be able to achieve what it otherwise could with a better farm system.

These changes will be generational. I get it. We’re not simply talking about changing a government program or even a single system; we’re challenging an entire culture. But the process needs to start with the simple admission, by all of us, that the freewheeling availability of student loans has been a bad thing on the whole for our country. Enough.

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