Born Free, But Education is Another Story

The economic downturn reinforced the value of higher education, but college costs are rising and loan-seeking students need friends in the financial sector.


The college educated not only earn more in their careers, they also are more likely to hold onto those jobs or find new ones faster when the economy heads south, reports the Wall Street Journal. But despite its heightened benefits in the post-recession years, higher education is still difficult to obtain for many hard-working Americans.

According to a second WSJ article, the cost of attending college roughly triples during every 17-year-period, whether the economy rains or shines. Today’s grads can attest to that. Student loan debt surpassed total credit card debt for the first time this summer, totaling $850 billion, according to financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz in an MSNBC article.

Competition for aid is fierce. Applications for federal student aid increased 40% from two years ago, and traditional savings vehicles such as Coverdells or “educational IRAs” face legislative changes this year that could cripple their usefulness.

The students of tomorrow — and their parents — who want to avoid accruing educational debt they cannot afford are looking for viable options, such as pursuing degrees at community colleges or working full-time after high school and saving for tuition. Some are completely abandoning the prospect of higher education.

But there are other options for making college students’ dreams a reality, and credit unions are playing an increasing role in the solution with affordable, workable educational loans. Recent legislation eliminating subsidies in federal private loans has created a natural niche for responsible, not-for-profit lenders to offer hope to Americans pursuing their educational goals. An investment in the education of your members today will build a return of loyalty, stability, and profitability in the years to come.