It is easy to find a scapegoat, the most obvious is the student. The previous generation’s parents grew up in a world where a college education was a must, so they brought up their kids to believe that they needed a college education to succeed. These kids were duped so the next scapegoat is the parents. They were just following a tried and true rule that was true when they were growing up. Their parents may have been newly arrived immigrants or the immigrant’s kids. They came to America to find a better way of life and they were insistent on educating their families.
With all the scapegoats exonerated, what went wrong. There is not one clear cause as it is different for each individual. One cause which applies to all is the downfall of the economy. When the US government decided to alter financial policy so it was more profitable for manufacturing companies to out source, this was major hit to the country’s GNP. It was the first step in taking the wind out of the economic sails.
The students still pursuing their degrees were remiss in following the economic trends so when they graduated they found no jobs in their field of study. They were left with the option of taking a minimum wage job or furthering their education. It was the path of least resistance to further their education pursuing a MA instead of stopping with a BA. It was easier to keep taking student loans and hoping that the economy will change by the time they got their MA. When it didn’t they pursued their PHD. For the ones that decided to cut their losses and take employment, they were unable to keep up with the payments when their grace period was over. They took a route to refinance the loan, back in the 70’s student loans could be discharged under bankruptcy. If the loan was refinanced, it would no longer be consider a student loan. In the following decade, the initiated rulings that made student loans hard to discharge.
Over this time, college tuition increased at a faster rate. They became more unaffordable but the student’s mindset did not change and they were still working to obtain their degree. In hindsight, they should have taken an economics or finance course so they could grasp what they were getting into.
Today, they are in an financial hole that they can’t get out of. Even if they worked 24 hours, 7 days a week they couldn’t dig themselves out of the debt. They are also being saddled with exploding health care costs, I also grant you that they have an auto loan and a monthly cell phone bill.