According to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) reports, we have 58,000 homeless college students in America today. And that number doesn’t account for those who choose not to report their cases. This is a number that is 75 percent more than three years ago.
And then we hear things like this: “These are people who get it,” said Kathleen O’Neill, who directs Single Stop USA for Massachusetts’ Bunker Hill Community College. The national nonprofit organization assists low-income families. “The way out of poverty is education and they are committed to doing whatever it is they need to do to get there.” Are we sure about that?
On a related note we now have over $1 TRILLION dollars owed in student loan debt. And I get notes like this every day. (Just got this one a few days ago)
“Dan, I’m a doctor and words cannot express how much I hate it. I hate feeling controlled by people with an entitlement mentality who don’t care if they suck the life out of me. I hate that my medical decision making is being controlled by government bureaucrats. I hate that this is a profession where you are regarded as weak for attending to normal body functions like eating and going to the bathroom. I hate that I have a target on my chest for lawsuits. I live pretty frugally but still have $280,000 in student loan debt at age 53. Plus the fact that I never got married or had kids. These things make my future very bleak, especially if I become to sick or frail to work and take care of myself.”
And we’re still being told the way out of poverty is education. Unfortunately, our model defining “education” is broken. Going to college is likely to lead directly into poverty.
If someone can’t come up with any way to create income now – the chances of them being able to do that just because they got a piece of paper are pretty slim. If a person can’t wash windows, mow yards, paint houses, deliver papers, do Amazon FBA, write a blog or have a little site on Etsy, they are probably going to be disappointed hoping someone will give them a job when they graduate.
When I went to The Ohio State University (yes, the National Football Championship school – go Buckeyes), Joanne and I lived in a little tiny trailer just off campus. We were surrounded by other students and loved the experience. I bought and sold old cars, mowed yards, and painted houses to cover all our expenses – including tuition and books. When I went back for my Masters degree we negotiated to live in an old house that I fixed up in exchange for rent. Joanne made tailor-made clothes for hard-to-fit women to create a little extra income. A few years later I started my doctoral program. By then I was earning money as a coach and writer. We did not incur any debt for any of those degree programs – and also did not expect any degree to significantly change my income. The degrees didn’t change who I was as a person.
Living frugally while in school is fine. But getting a housing subsidy, food stamps, AND borrowing government backed student loans is not a reasonable plan. I grieve for these homeless college students who are borrowing money in the hope that their future is going to change instantly when they have a “degree.” Some studies show that 85 percent of the graduates in 2014 will return home because they can’t secure jobs that are in any way connected to their degrees.
This is a massive problem. The marketplace demands marketable skills and useful contributions to business goals. The homeless college students of today are likely to be the resentful, indentured slaves who are saddled with debt they cannot pay tomorrow.
It’s time to stop believing that college is a guaranteed way out of homelessness and poverty. A pleasing personality and skills that matter may require neither a degree nor debt. I guess you can tell this is more than a pet peeve of mine. It’s a national disaster that is leading us to a massive crash.
Please leave your comments here. Convince me I’m wrong in my anger about this.