Borrowing for college. And borrowing . . .

Student lenders are finally facing some well-needed scrutiny, says Michael Kinsley in Slate. The “student loan ‘industry,’ as it is comically referred to in the newspapers,” wouldn't even exist if the government didn’t give it “free money.” Most federal borrowing, including a government student loan program, carries interest rates of 3 or 4 percent. But the government guarantees and “pays part or all of the interest” on private student loans that charge 7 or 8 percent. It took a kickback scandal, but Congress “passed a bill substantially reforming the student loan program” and cutting subsidies. “It is what any levelheaded businessperson would do.”

The student loan bill “will do little to curb the cost of college,” says John Wasik in Bloomberg. If you want to understand “why business has been great for the $85 billion college-loan industry,” look as the soaring cost of college. The record “35 percent surge in inflation-adjusted tuition and fees since 2001-2002” is mainly due to two things: “greater demand” for a college education and “little resistance” from families facing “ever-loftier” bills. If you need to borrow, the federal government offers the best deals on loans. But incredibly, nobody—not private lenders, not Congress—will help you find the best loan package.