Category: College

Student Loans Should be Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

Flipping channels over the weekend I stumbled on the fabulous Suze Orman’s TV show. I could only stand watching for a few minutes, but in that time I got to see her give an overwrought soliloquy on the outrage that student loansGrads Kit are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. She is working to fix this, she tells us.

I do not think she has as much pull in Washington as her followers imagine. But I am happy to throw my weight behind the effort too. I imagine that Suze would be alarmed at my motivations, but on this particular issue I find myself agreeing with her. Could be a first.

Discharging debt is the essence of the bankruptcy process. What the bankruptcy petitioner owes is either wiped out entirely (in Chapter 7) or has its terms and/or amounts modified (in Chapter 13.)

However, there are a few exceptions. Actually, more than a few.

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Most Kids Should Not Go to College

There are a few recurring themes here at BMA that arose unplanned. One of them is college, specifically the wisdom of paying so much for it. I have asked Is a College Degree Worth Anything? and followed-up with Is a Fake College Degree Worth Anything? I mused on the big picture with Why Go to College? and Does it Matter Which College You Attend?

Grads Kit The answers to those titular questions were yes, college degrees are generally economically valuable, and even fake ones have their uses. Which is why most high school graduates should go to college. And it matters which one you go to, sometimes a lot.

However, my advice to the generic 18 year-old, that he or she should go to the best college he or she can get into (where “best” considers cost) is in conflict with my broader society-wide view. Way too many of us go to college.

In 1940, there were 1700 institutions of higher learning in the US and 1.1% of the population was enrolled in college. 5% of the US population over 25 then had a bachelors degree or better.

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Follow-Up Round-Up

Time to follow up on a few topics I have written about in the past and mention a few more tidbits not worthy of entire posts.

Bad BooksUSPS Stamp

On Friday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled another half million electrical DIY books to add to the million or so recalled from the same publisher in January. Some of the books were originally published in the 1950s. No explanation of why this batch was overlooked nine months ago. Also still no word on what, exactly, is wrong with them.

I had some fun with this in January, but darker thoughts are now creeping into my head. Is it just me, or is anybody else uncomfortable with the idea of a government agency recalling “dangerous” books?

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Is The Ivy League Worth It?

Harvard Yard CropContinuing the seasonal back-to-school theme, two blogs recently addressed essentially the same question, namely are elite colleges worth the elite price?

Last week, Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life gave us a long and methodical discussion, complete with charts, Should You Invest In An Ivy League College Education? The post tees up the major issues, but stops short of presenting a definitive answer to its own question.

In contrast, Zac Bissonnette’s post at The Consumerist, 5 Reasons Why Every Single College Ranking Is a Pile of Crap, makes it clear where he stands. “A student’s success or failure in college and in life will ultimately be determined by who they are, not which college they attend.”

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Cosigning Surprises

The article is ominously entitled When Student Loans Live On After Death. And it begins, dramatically, thusly:Churchyard Derek Harper - crop

In July 2006, 25-year-old Christopher Bryski died.

His private student loans didn’t. Mr. Bryski’s family in Marlton, N.J., continues to make monthly payments on his loans—the result of a potentially costly loophole in the rules governing student lending.

And what, you may ask, is the nature of this hitherto obscure loophole that The Wall Street Journal heroically exposed this weekend? Turns out, if a loan has a cosigner, and the borrower dies, that cosigner is considered liable for the debt. This was a surprise to both Mr. Bryski’s father, who cosigned his student loans, and Mary Pilon, who wrote the article.

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

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