Overheard on CNN.com: 'Welcome to the cruel, harsh world,' student loan takers
President Obama discusses student loan debt this week at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
April 26th, 2012
08:13 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'Welcome to the cruel, harsh world,' student loan takers

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Anya Kamanetz of Fast Company magazine wrote about President Obama's tour of college campuses this week, addressing the interest rate on student loans that is set to double on July 1. Kamanetz argues that  bankruptcy relief also ought to be available. We received comments from readers who say we simply cannot afford to let people out of these debts when others have paid in the past. But, others argue, the world is a different place now.

Obama should push bankruptcy relief for student loans

Many of our readers said people who took out loans can't just expect to erase that debt.

onepercenter: "This is absurd. A few things to consider:
1. The kids that all buy into the hope and change, crush the 1%, save the world, anti-cronyism, anti-lobbying, anti-election buying stuff are tying their vote for Obama to a reduction in their own personal debt. I can smell the hypocrisy from here.
"2. You borrowed the money in good faith. Pay it back or suffer the consequences. Many before you were in the same situation and found a way to make it work.
"3. If you can't find a job because you spent eight years chasing a degree in Iranian Gender Studies, the only person to blame is yourself. We should not be on the hook for your bad decisions.
"It is time to grow up kids. Welcome to the cruel, harsh world. If you think student loan debt is bad, just wait until you start paying taxes. ..."

At the same time, one reader opined, there are increased costs to be aware of.

Gary Murchake: "Why does everyone talk about loans or loan interest rates? This is not the problem. I went to college 1987 to 1992. I was in-state at a state university and my full-time schedule cost $995 a semester, books were between $175 and $300 depending on classes I took. Now where exactly can you go to college for that now? The costs are crazy and no one yet has explained to me where the excess costs went to."

OhioLibraria: "You are 100% correct. I graduated with my master's two years ago. I was a stay-at-home mom while attending school, but commuted from Ohio to Michigan, and therefore, paid out-of-state tuition ($16,000 per semester). I really had no choice but to take out private loans. I am one of the fortunate graduates who received a job in my field right away, but the loans are killing me. I make a decent living, but more than half my paycheck goes to student loans and will continue to do so for a very long time."

Life is life, says this reader.

Mega RayRay: "If you signed the loan papers, spent the money and went to school that is a choice that you made. You are responsible for the repayment of the money that was lent to you for the education you couldn't afford in the first place. Stand up and be an adult and admit you made a poor decision and repay your debt. Sorry you can't find a job in your field of choice but life is never a guarantee."

This reader said we as a society are encouraging people not to survive.

Jared Knipp: "Forgiveness of student loan debt via a type of 'bankruptcy' would be yet another double taxation to individuals such as myself that did not superfluously overspend on college costs and paid back their loans in full. Continually I'm punished as a working middle-class citizen of this country. I have to bail out the rich, the poor and the foolish via tax dollars. People buy houses they have no business purchasing because they can't afford them so they get a bailout from the government. We tell our youth to go to college and do what you love. In turn, students take out $100,000 in loans for a degree that will never provide the return on investment necessary to pay them back. We pay out 99 weeks of employment benefits to those out of work and float the dream of Social Security benefits for retires, both discouraging looking for work/hustling to get by and saving. Our country has become overrun with policies and safety nets. Our grandparents and great-grandparents helped forge this nation through hard work and struggling through desperate times."

Deadbeatdadd: "Seriously, did you have to bring the grandparents into this? The dollar was worth more back in the '50s when those grandparent's ruled the roost. They didn't need both parents working 'just to get by.' They actually had middle-class jobs. They didn't have to deal with 'free markets' and the cheap slave labor from foreign nations. I can go on and on ... stop romanticizing that generation. The one thing they definitely did right was keep the corporate crooks from taking over the government."

BinaryTruth: "Translation: Let the man starve, maybe then he'll teach himself to fish. But for college kids it's even worse. The fish were all relocated to China. Now we have self-righteous wingnuts ridiculing young people because they can't get jobs that DON'T EXIST."

Know what you're doing before you take out a loan.

TexasBrando: "Here's an idea that would help everyone: Don't take out a loan that you have no idea how you are going to pay or cannot afford."

brick177: "Here's an idea. Don't tell kids that going to college will automatically get them a better job."

Would allowing loan forgiveness even the playing field for students?

CueBallSTL: "If Obama allows delinquent ex-students out of their loan obligations through bankruptcy, then I want him to pay back all the money I spent honoring my commitment and paying off my loans."

Jennifer Martin: "I think the author is saying that students are more likely to pay off their debt if they can leverage the threat of bankruptcy against their lender. The lender would then be motivated to lower their interest rates, let them skip payments, etc. The student, wanting to avoid a black mark on their credit, could then try to pay back the loan once they get a job."

And then, a few of the people who chimed in to the conversation also mentioned the education itself.

HudsonDad: "Why does no one ever mention the bad product? Charging $40,000 plus for a useless degree? Why aren't the schools held accountable also? Make schools that grant degrees in women's studies and the like pay!"

LogicalInput: "Agree. In all fairness, I think tuition is fine. What isn't are these so-called university fees that are sometimes triple the tuition and/or just as much as room and board. College is too expensive. All we paid for was for that name brand, which doesn't even guarantee a job after graduation. I salute you sir for your observation, but out of curiosity, is there any way to punish a university short of shutting it down? Honest question here, not sarcastic in any way."

D50: "Now wait just a dad-gumed minute ... I spent a lot of my college years in 'women's studies' and was glad for it!"

Are you still paying off loans, or did you get them out of the way with ease? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Indrid Cold

    With the money this nation spends on war, we could have forgiven every outstanding student loan, and provided a free college education for every young high school graduate who wanted one. We could easily legislate a tax on millionaire+ incomes to pay for it even now. Instead, we wast our time arguing about BS issues like contraception, and the meaningless boogie man called the deficit.

    April 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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