Monday, June 2, 2008

The Academy Feels The Squeeze

And thus, it came to pass that even the college loan industry is feeling the squeeze. In a New York Times article that is troubling to me, lenders have reportedly stopped issuing loans to students with credit scores at certain levels that would not have triggered a refusal as recently as last year. More troubling is that some lenders have withdrawn the capability of students to receive loans at all to attend certain institutions (apparently all community colleges).

Michelle McClain, 40, who is studying to become a teacher, learned on Friday that she would have to find a new lender after Citibank dropped William Jessup University. The news angered her.

“The loan is between me and the lender,” Ms. McClain said. “I’m the one that’s taking out the loan, I’m the one whose credit is in jeopardy if I don’t pay it, I am the one totally responsible for the loan, and as long as I’m going to an accredited college, I don’t understand why it would make one iota of difference where I am going to college.”

These institutions apparently have high default rates among their student body.

It’s sad that yet another barrier to higher education has arisen. Its hard enough getting through college without the added burden of being denied a loan because of the reputation of your institution’s past students. I know that the lenders are not in this business for the feel-good-fuzzies, but you’d think it would be worth their while to base their credit check based on the individual, and just up the required credit score in order to obtain a loan. That way, “bad” behavior is rewarded or punished on the individual level, without the blunt harm done to Ms. McClain and entire universities fill of students.

The cynic in me says that when push comes to shove, rich institutions will protect rich institutions (banks protecting universities with actual financial and political clout). The sons of the poor being robbed of a chance to get an education and a meaningful chance at a career while the sons of the rich still get their four year birthright of frolicking and fucking amidst vine draped walls and Noam Chomsky.

It’s a crying shame that school loans are becoming harder to come by. I am thankful that I only have to request funds for one more year. Because I see this as getting worse before it gets better.

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