Students don’t borrow enough
Students who borrow to pay for tuition are “more likely to stay in college, not less.”
College students should take out more loans, said Jordan Weissmann. I realize the suggestion may “strike some readers as a bit…nuts.” But it might help us “solve one of the most vexing problems in American higher education: our terrible graduation rates.” Less than half of all Americans who start college ever graduate, putting the U.S. “dead last” among industrialized countries. Some say that means the government should make fewer loans. But in fact, students who borrow to pay for tuition are “more likely to stay in college, not less.” A 2005 study found that just 23 percent of those with loans dropped out, while 44 percent of nonborrowers did. Black and Hispanic students, in particular, are “much more likely” to graduate if they take out loans. Students who don’t borrow often attend part-time or work on the side-—both “known dropout risks.” I’m not saying that debt is good, or that college hasn’t become excessively expensive. But to make college a worthwhile investment, we need students to graduate. An “irrational aversion to debt” is no way to encourage that result.