My parents’ choices put them in a position that they weren’t able to financially assist in my college education. That didn’t stop me from becoming a first-generation college graduate. I did it without student loans.

The choice I made was to work summers as a laborer/craftsman helper on petrochemical construction job sites.

My wife and I later made a choice that we would make sacrifices to enable us to cover the cost of our children’s education. We didn’t do without, but we did with much less.

I don’t share my story for accolades because “starting from nothing” stories have been shared by millions of Americans over the course of our country’s history.

This is a story about choices.

We have many choices when considering obtaining a college education. Do I get a job, enlist in the military for GI Bill benefits, get a loan? Take a “gap year” or get started? First-choice higher-cost university or community college?

Major in fields that offer higher demand employment opportunities or select a field of limited demand? Finish or drop out? Party, nice car, fashion statements, spring break or focus on the future? These choices come with various price tags. Who’s responsible for the cost of one’s choices?

There’s discussion of an expectation to have all or a portion of student debt forgiven. I fail to understand the rationale. For each of us, our current situation in life is the result of our personal choices or, to a lesser degree, the personal choices of our parents.

We’ve all made bad choices. However, for better or for worse, we figure out how to live with our choices.

What message will be sent if there should be a blanket forgiveness of student debt? Would the message be that there are no consequences for poor choices? Would the message be that those who made sacrifices and those who met their obligation of paying off their student loans are effectively being penalized for responsible choices?

Rather than the government being in the business of excusing people for the poor choices they make, the government might want to get into the business of helping people make better choices.

Drew Broussard lives in Friendswood.

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(51) comments

Ron Shelby

Well said.

Don Schlessinger

Well Said!

Gary Miller

Well said. Honest thinking.

Robert Braeking

Currently a college education/indoctrination is no longer affordable for self-pay. The free access to student loans has driven up the tuition cost to unbelievable levels. I think my children were the last generation to self-pay. Now trade schools offer the most economical alternative - and we have a tradesman shortage. A course to certify an A&P mechanic (Airplane mechanic) costs around $50,000 and the profession is entry level at around $20 per hour. More with an instrumentation endorsement.

Bailey Jones

When I went to college, you could pay your way with a minimum wage job. A semester at a state school, including tuition, books, and room and board in the dorm, was about $1000. Americans now carry over $1,600,000,000,000 (that's 1.6 trillion) in debt. The government owns about a trillion of this, the rest is bought and sold on debt markets by debt collectors, with all the joy and expense that being in debt entails. And worse are the millions of Americans who have made the "choice" to avoid college to avoid that debt.

It's time for a change. I'd like to see a federal student grant program available to all Americans. Can we afford it? Do the math. On average, a college degree will earn you an extra million dollars over your lifetime. At a 15% tax rate, the government recoups $150K - easily repaying the cost of all but the most expensive schools. The rest of that $1,000,000? It goes straight into our economy.

People tend to see education as an individual good - like a new house or a fancy car - something that people only "deserve" if they have the wherewithal to afford it. But education is a public good.

After WW2, a lot of vets took advantage of the GI Bill and got an education. If you look at the roster of those geniuses of the 1950s and 1960s who gave us the transistor, the computer, the moon shot, medical advances, modern industrial chemistry - even the explosion in art and literature of those days (Johnny Cash, Dave Brubeck, Harry Belafonte, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Heller, Frank McCourt) - these guys were educated on the GI Bill. The GI Bill made possible the education of fourteen future Nobel laureates, two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners, three Supreme Court justices, and three presidents of the United States. Education is good for society. It destroys poverty. It drives our economy - our graduate schools are hotbeds of entrepreneurship and new technology. (I'd make the same argument for vocational education.)

Congress estimated that for every dollar spent under the GI Bill, the US economy received seven dollars in return. You will not find a better investment than that anywhere.

Andrew Broussard

Fully agree with value of education for a society. The GI Bill is a wonder program that basically requires service before benefit. Perhaps a case to bring back the draft?

Don Schlessinger

"The GI Bill is a wonder program that basically requires service before benefit." Not necessarily, my son graduated from U.T. then joined the military to pay off his student debt. That debt was gone in 4 years. The military was a good fit for him so he stayed for another 18 years.

David Hardee

To equate the GI loans to the Democratic Parties GIVEAWAY programs is idiotic and am insult to every member of the Armed services.

As to paying their loans - the delinquency is higher than any other loan program and climbing. The federal government - savings and loan, zero down housing and the market bubbles prove our tax money is wasted repetitively. Stupid can't be cured it must be amputated.

Robert Braeking

Mr. Jones - You wrote: " The rest of that $1,000,000? It goes straight into our economy."

You obviously misunderstand the concept of taxation and its effect on the economy. When the government collects taxes it REMOVES money from the economy. They piss the money away on brother-in-law kickbacks, foreign bribery, and purchases of over-priced toilet seats. That does absolutely nothing for the domestic economy.......except in the case of the brother-in-law unless he uses the money to buy some white powder and shove it up his nose.

Bailey Jones

??? "The rest of that $1,000,000" is the after-tax part. But I'm with you on Trump's gold toilets and his son's cocaine habit (alleged).

Gary Miller

Bailey> Education is good for society unless $1.600,000,000,000 is borrowed to pay for $1,600,000,000 worth of education. Many with education debt have degrees that can never repay the loans. Some of them have been employed by colleges to teach useless but high cost classes for useless degrees. Before any government help with education debt colleges should be required to stop offering courses that are dead end after graduation. Stop growing the student debt load first.

Jim Forsythe

Is it worth the cost and the amount of time it takes to become a physician or other careers that requires a large outlay of time and money?

It takes between 11 and 14 years of higher education to become a physician. That means the typical doctor doesn't earn a full-time salary until 10 years after the typical college graduate starts making money. That lost decade of work costs a half-million dollars, if you assume this individual could have earned just $50,000 annually.

The average medical school debt is $166,750. Add the cost of a four year degree, public two-year colleges cost an average of $2,527 per year, compared to the $25,588 at public four-year colleges, $62,644 at private four-year not-for-profit colleges and $62,644 at private four-year for-profit colleges. This does not include textbooks, housing, meals, equipment and fees.

The cost be reduced some by using a dual credit program while in high school.

Mary Gillespie

Further cost reduction may be obtained by attending a junior college for two years, then completing a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution.

Gary Miller

Mary> Good advice. You use the math you learned.

Stephanie Martin

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Paula Flinn

It’s ridiculous to compare college/university tuition charges in the 60’s and 70’s and paying for it with summer jobs with the staggering costs now. Add to that law school or medical school, and professional people will be paying back student loans for the rest of their lives. I know. My daughter is a lawyer. It was the best choice for her.

Times are harder now. Colleges are more expensive. You cannot pay off student loans by summer work of waiting tables, retail sales, flipping burgers or babysitting. It’s just not possible.

Dwight Burns

Well said. America, in order to move forward, must recalibrate her thinking with regards to how a secondary education is funded. This Country is rich enough to absolve the cost of such education. If we can give away 1.5 trillion dollars to the wealthiest top 1%, then a college education for the 99% is a cake walk.

The math checks out.

Gary Miller

Dwight> Poor thinking. A tax cut doesn't give the tax payer anything, it lets them keep more of what their work earned. Not taking is not the same as giving.

Carlos Ponce

College costs normally go up to keep up with inflation. When the government foots the bill, costs skyrocket.

Paula Flinn

But minimum wage didn’t keep up with inflation. Wages don’t necessarily increase with increases in inflation.

Carlos Ponce

There should be NO Federal minimum wage. What you get for $10 in Galveston is much more than $10 will get you in New York City.

Bailey Jones

The cost of college has wildly exceeded inflation since the 70s.

https://sites.ed.gov/ous/2013/07/weighing-the-cost-and-value-of-a-college-decision/

Fun fact - the period of the lowest wealth inequality and fastest-growing middle class in the last 100 years is also the period when college was the most affordable. As college has become less affordable, the middle class has shrunk and poverty has increased.

Dwight Burns

Amen.

Robert Braeking

Carlos - Costs are not driven by inflation. They are driven by the money available to buy. There are a finite number of colleges and government money in the form of student loans created an infinite number of students. Since there were more students available the colleges could and did increase the tuition to the point that there were fewer students vying for entry.

In order to reduce the cost of college tuition, the number of students applying for entry must be reduced to a level below that being offered by the college. No amount of student loan programs can accomplish this no matter the source. The lack of easy money for college is the only way that the cost of tuition will drop.

If I were considering a career in this day and time I would probably opt for a technical career. Academia has priced itself out of the market.

Craig Mason

It seems we could come up with a public works group where you enlist for two or four years and earn some type of tuition assistance.

Carlos Ponce

There are alternatives, Craig. One being scholarships. My parents couldn't afford to send me to college but I got through on a Moody Foundation Scholarship and working summers at a lumber yard in Texas City.

Look at the billions of dollars in endowments each university has. But each has strings as written in the Forbes article, "Why Not Use Those Large Endowments To Save Colleges?"

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrosowsky/2020/06/01/why-not-use-those-large-endowments-to-save-colleges/?sh=187da0543f0a

Solution: cut the strings making it possible to use.

Craig Mason

I agree Carlos I sent 4 kids to college using dual credit classes, junior college, scholarships and at times even had them contribute, so they would have skin in the game. If they dropped classes I made them repay me for the costs. In their senior year I had them apply for two scholarships a week. That was also when the applications were almost all paper applications. The bottom line is not every child has someone to assist with tuition and strongly encourage scholarship application. If we had a CCC like program where students could work and earn money and tuition assistance I think it would go a long way. But for the record I don’t agree with student loan forgiveness.

Carlos Ponce

I have a great-niece attending Texas State University in San Marcos (nee SWT). She's working for the University to help pay her way. There are non-CCC jobs available already.

Gary Miller

Craig> You did it right, your kids will be better of because you made good choices and taught your children to think before jumping. Forgiving student debt is wrong. Teaches poor policy and betrays students who pay for education.

Paula Flinn

My daughter received a $10,000 scholarship to go to an out-of-state law school. In the summers, she worked at the law school to earn money for living and tuition assistance. I don’t think she had time to work in construction or at a lumber yard. She was a single mother at the time. She only went to school there for 3 years. She is paying her debt, but it will last a long time. She also had some debt from getting her BA. She has been working for over 10 years as a lawyer for the state in which she resides. I believe she should get forgiveness for at least part of her loans.

Do you want people to tell their children that they can be anything they want to be, except for a career that requires a degree? That’s what you stingy, privileged people are saying.

Gary Miller

Carlos> A grand daughter graduated SCL 4.0+ from a 4 year school in three years. She had scholarships from her parents and my wife and I. No student debt. Her first job paid more than three years of college. Good family support and good selection of courses. Before entering college she chose what she expected to enjoy and earn a comfortable life. Too many college bound students are too immaiture to make good choices.

Bailey Jones

I like the idea of public works - I've advocated in the past for it in terms of rebuilding our infrastructure. My sister and BIL spent a few years in the Peace Corps in the Solomon Islands and it absolutely defined their lives and worldview. But I would say that working as an engineer, or teacher, or entrepreneur, or doctor, or whatever - after the fact is just as much a benefit to the nation as rebuilding a state park or cleaning up a beach before the fact. And I'd argue that it's cheaper to just pay for college rather than pay someone for four years and then pay for their college. Not to say that it has to be one or the other. There are no doubt many ways to skin this cat.

No one (well, almost no one) doubts the value of taxpayer-supported schooling for 12 years. If I was to propose that 8 years of school is enough there would be widespread disagreement. Similarly, if I propose that 16 years is the way to go there will be also widespread disagreement. People tend to be wary of change. Yet the world changes every day. Asia is rising, the US is declining - and education is a big part of it. We can't afford to waste our most valuable asset - the intellectual capacity of our children. Education these days isn't a privilege or a luxury, it's a civic duty.

Gary Miller

Bailey> Taxpayers already pay enough for K through college with some left over. The cost of ISD schools uses it all and wants more. Get rid of " free public education" and enjoy the wealth ISD destroys.

David Hardee

Excellent article. Taking personal responsibility is the only way to acquiring self-worth/esteem. The article needs to be augmented with a disclosure that this LOAN program by the Federal government has had the same effect that Government Housing program (Frank-Dodd) zero down had on the country. The HUD bailout that crushed the financial institution (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ... The program was a $700 billion bailout package for the banks,) - (Mar 12, 2018 — Ten years ago when Bear Stearns crashed, the Fed decided to bail out first, ask ... its amendment in the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010) The general population paid of the 700 billion.

The FREE college Federal progwill result in the same fiasco eventually.

We are slow learners. And the election of Biden proves again we are stupid.

Gary Miller

David> You understand the problem.

Gary Miller

People borrow to learn things that have no value. Many college grads can't get employment in the field they studied that provides living expense and college debt repayment because what they learned has little or less value. Colleges offered degrees with no value and didn't advise students it was without value.

Jarvis Buckley

My wife & I worked many , many hours to send our daughter through college then through law school. There never was a thought of a grant or student loan. We look back on those years with a sense of pride. We all should pay our debts.

Just my thoughts.

Bill Broussard

Jarvis. You’ve been a hero of mine for sometime but you jumped up ten points on my hero scale today

Mom sent me off to Texas A&M with a job at the mess hall and twenty dollars. That was the last twenty she ever had to give me. While I figured out how to get by, my two younger brothers watched and did the same. Mom produced one PhD and two attorneys on a twenty dollar investment. She was the smartest of the four of us by a long shot

David Hardee

Reading comments to this article proves that there are 2 distinct basic factions in our society that are sincerely interested in the federal government's involvement in our lives. These two factions actively involved while the majority of the society is either apathetic or unconcerned and get active only by a stimulus from a drastic event and then go back to being blissfully ignorant.

Of the two active, concerned and. knowledgeable groups there is a very big differing concept of the federal government's proper role. The Democrats like, condone and desire the government's involvement. The Republicans are inclined to dislike

government involvement is an intrusion and creates problems.

The opposition of the Democrats and the Republicans is best exemplified by the subject of student loans by the simplistic statement of PFlnn statement "Do you want people to tell their children that they can be anything they want to be, except for a career that requires a degree? That’s what you stingy, privileged people are saying".

Flinn wants and needs government because she has an experience where self-interest .is more important than the overall good of society in general. The fact that PFlinn's decisions made the difficulty is excusable and the Big Tent -Village should extract from the general public (including the stingy, privileged people mostly Republicans) the money to solve the problem for all the student loans stupid decisions.

This is an illustration of almost all the differences between Dems and Reps.

Paula Flinn

My parents saved money for me to go to college. My husband also helped me finish and get my degree. A college degree was less money back then, even though the cost of living was lower. Now, a college degree is very expensive, and law school or medical school is extremely expensive. A low-wage job in the summer will not help very much. Males can get higher paying construction jobs or jobs at refineries, etc. Females do not usually have those options.

You, David Hardee, are very narrow minded and caught up in your own stereotypes about people and political parties. My daughter is not asking for government money to pay her loans off. She has not asked for a dime. She is paying them off by herself, and so are her friends that went to law schools all over the nation.

You probably have no reason to deny people “bonuses” when they work for large corporations. My daughter works for a state government. It would be nice for her to get a “bonus” once in awhile, to help her pay off her student debt, that’s all.

I have helped her monetarily in other ways. She does not expect me to pay off her loans. She has a good job. So, don’t be so judgmental.

David Hardee

These are your words, Paula - " I believe she should get forgiveness for at least part of her loans.

Do you want people to tell their children that they can be anything they want to be, except for a career that requires a degree? That’s what you stingy, privileged people are saying."

"

Now, Paula, you state how responsible your people are in paying their loans. Evidently, you will modify/split your position on the student loan repayment to fit the argument you want us to accept as appropriate. This straddling technique is the most disgusting and devious.

As to my position being - as you said "very narrow-minded and caught up in your own stereotypes about people and political parties. " - you are correct. After my 80 years as a concerned citizen observing the shenanigans of the PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS,

I am secure in my determinations that progressive liberal Democrats are fouling our society/country. I am judgemental and discriminating - based on the act, causes and effects. My discrimination process is evidence based and is not RACIST.

Paula Flinn

I am not disgusting or devious. You can ask anyone.

Your thoughts, words, and judgements are, in my opinion, hateful, and prove several of my points.

All people have dreams for a better life. Excessive debt, whether from student loans or medical expenses, etc. is a burden for those who have no other way. There was a time that working certain jobs for 10 years ( joining the Peace Corps) would forgive the debt, and hers would qualify, but I don’t think that’s the case now.

I will pray for you. You have expressed such hatred.

David Hardee

The only point is - you make a loan - pay the obligation you made. My opinion that your waffling between you paying or having others pay or having relief from the obligation is not hatred based - it is simply your words being played back to prove you are wishing/wanting a way to NOT have to fulfil the obligation. Pray that those who make loans have the integrity to accept and meet the obligations they make. You have been indoctrinated with the Progressive Democratic Big Tent - it takes a village to raise your children - AKA the government should solve all my problems.

Paula Flinn

No one is waffling! You got the wrong impression. I always pay my bills, so does my daughter and her husband. She is paying her obligation with no whining or complaining.

Who wouldn’t want to catch a break on debt? Our generation had a break on the price of tuition. My high school boyfriend worked his way through college with a summer job in a grocery store. You couldn’t do that today. This generation does not have a break, unless their parents pay or they get a 4 year scholarship.

Carlos Ponce

Amazing! Paula asks, "Who wouldn’t want to catch a break on debt?" But when a man like Donald Trump uses the tax code to LEGALLY reduce his tax debt, Paula goes crazy. "No fair!", she posts."Everyone must pay their his share!" Rules for me but not for thee, Paula?

Robert Braeking

Paula, It will take some time for tuition costs to go down. If every student took a 2 year sabbatical from college you can believe that tuition on the third year would be reduced.

Paula Flinn

When a man like Donald Trump changes the tax code to legally benefit himself and his rich donors....

https://www.google.com/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2019/09/what-will-it-take-to-solve-the-student-loan-crisis

Its, not just my daughter, Carlos and others, it’s considered a crisis, now, and will affect many generations, and the debt will grow.

Carlos Ponce

Crisis? That's hyperbole, Paula.

Paula Flinn

“As tuition and fees continue to increase at both public and private institutions, students' debt loads are rising along with them. Over the past 20 years, college costs have grown at over three times the rate of inflation. The result: 70% of college graduates have student debt, with the average borrower owing more than $37,000 at graduation.“

Student debt is considered at a crisis level now with no end in sight.

David Hardee

This is the statement in the link you recommended that identifies how the Democratic Party's housing program (zero down loans and the Dodd-Frank) amendments have been failures requiring taxpayers to bail out.

"The current proposal for transferring the totality of this $1.6 trillion debt to the taxpayers does not pass the fairness test, although there are those building a case for a taxpayer bailout, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. government has already bailed out several large lending institutions."

Noe the Student Loan Democratic Party sponsored program is headed for another bailout.

Quit whining - and stop voting these Progressive Liberals Democrats into power.

Robert Braeking

Paula. You wrote"......Donald Trump changes the tax code ...." Excuse me, but the President does not have the power to change the tax code. He can only go along with changes that Congress enacts by signing the legislation. I don't know where you got your civics education, but I think you should ask for a refund.

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