The Student Debt Crisis and Government Money in Education

Robert Thoburn · 2023-07-04

Days ago the US Supreme Court stopped the President from canceling $400 billion in student loan debt. It seems that in our Republic enough semblance of independent branches of government remains that maybe one man cannot unilaterally make a half trillion dollar decision.
At Oak Hill, I think we should be glad for the court decision. It keeps pressure on colleges and universities to reconsider their great reliance on federal money. As of today, these loans continue to be made to new students. Colleges need to acknowledge that, in addition to burdening more and more students with debt, federal money is also driving their institutions to make decisions in terms of that money. It should also make us think about how K-12 schools should be funded.

Jesse Sumpter, a writer for New Saint Andrews College, says the Court is right to overturn Biden’s proposal because his plan would not actually fix the problem and would lead to other issues that hurt Americans. He says the real problem is that “colleges and universities that take federal money are growing dependent on that money and are losing their freedom to operate in healthy ways.”

New Saint Andrew's President, Ben Merkle, thinks there is a genuine debt problem. But, he also believes that colleges should wean themselves off federal money. New Saint Andrews College is one of the few in the nation that does not accept any federally backed student loan money. Read more of Sumpter's and Merkle's comments here.

There are many calls in Virginia and elsewhere for state sponsored vouchers to pay for schools like Oak Hill. Undoubtedly these would financially be a bonanza for schools like ours. But, money drives mission. We have seen the results of federal money on colleges. We have seen the results of state funded public schools. Mostly we see expenditures out of hand and a lack of academic and spiritual results in students.

The K-12 answer is more schools that are responsible to parents. We need to push to reduce property taxes. We need to advocate for less taxpayer money to go to public schools. These things will leave parents with more of their own precious money to direct schools. When resources do not come directly from parents, schools become dependent on the state and lose their ability to make decisions that really benefit the parents and students.