Here’s a good Arizona Republic entry in the is-college-worth-it-these-days subgenre. The gist is that the normal rationales for spending huge amounts on college no longer apply:
The rationale for borrowing to attend college is that your bigger eventual paychecks after graduation will enable you to pay off the debt, with cash to spare. But during a period of rising unemployment, the benefits become less apparent, especially since student loans typically can’t be modified, forgiven or discharged like other debts.
The fact that student loans can’t be discharged via bankruptcy is criminal, and I’m looking to dig into that and blog on it more. But there’s another factor that isn’t mentioned here: the breakdown of the employee/employer compact. In other words, it’s not just about employment.
It would be one thing if graduates were entering a world in which decent wages and benefits were guaranteed. Then, paying off student loans for a decade or more would be less of a big deal. But in a much more tumultuous, less employee-friendly job environment, it’s harder to make the argument for college.