The Star’s editorial on student-loan defaults correctly points out the difficulty many college graduates have with loan repayments. But the assertion that private-sector colleges and universities recruit students purely for financial reasons, thus leading to higher default rates, couldn’t be further from the truth.
All institutions recruit students in one way or another, and all studies indicate the nation needs more trained workers. And as for default rates, the default rates of public and private non-profit postsecondary institutions are also rising.
The reality is that private-sector institutions train a disproportionate number of non-traditional students such as single parents and returning veterans. With high unemployment rates throughout the country, many of these individuals, as well as graduates from almost all institutions, are finding it challenging to repay student debt because of the scarcity of jobs in today’s America. This is not a reflection on career-oriented schools; it is a reflection on the grim state of the economy.
The default rate of two-year community colleges whose students share similar characteristics to students at private-sector colleges is 11.9 percent, even though most of their cost of education is paid directly by the taxpayers. This is only a few percentage points below the private-sector schools.
The Star’s editorial is right to suggest student-loan programs consider economic circumstances before deciding repayment plans. But it’s important to look at the complete picture before making conclusions about default rates at private-sector colleges and universities.
Founder and chancellor of Herzing University
Winter Park, Fla.