Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Guaranteed Student"?

P-Mac finds an interesting nugget.

Moss, a professor at Harvard's business school, tosses out a better idea: "Insuring students against losses on their educational investments, rather than guaranteeing lenders against bad loans.

"Specifically," he writes, "we should ensure that every American can finance college or graduate-school tuition (or the cost of job training) with a special income-contingent loan (ICL) from the federal government. The loan would have an extended term (up to 30 years, like a mortgage) and would defer or potentially forgive interest payments for any year in which the recipient's household income fell below a prespecified trigger.

"A federal ICL program would make certain that every American equipped to earn a college degree could get it, irrespective of need. Although participating students would still assume substantial levels of debt, they would have much less cause for worry, and thus much more reason to invest in higher education, since they would not have to pay when their income faltered."

A cynic might observe that a college prof makes the proposal, which is designed to continue the professional viability of college profs.

Another cynic might argue that this is a VERY thinly-veneered proposal for "free" college, financed by the taxpayers. After all, the 'income assumption' portion of the concept is malleable, allowing a vote-hungry Congress to hammer the trigger into whatever shape they like.

A third cynic might note that this does not particularly address 'needs;' it just addresses 'wants'--specifically, the 'want' of a college degree, which these days means almost as little as it buys.

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