Ron Paul Would End Student Loans

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the libertarian congressman (technically) running for president, has an idea to cut college costs.

According to an Associated Press piece at Fox News:

Republican presidential contender Ron Paul said Sunday he wants to end federal student loans, calling it a failed program that has put students $1 trillion in debt when there are no jobs and when the quality of education has deteriorated.

Paul said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he’d kill the loan program eventually if he were president. That could put him at odds with some of his young followers, many of whom are college students.

Paul blamed government intervention in the economy for rising tuition. “Just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education,” said Paul, who graduated from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania before earning a medical degree at the Duke University School of Medicine. “I went to school when we had none of those. I could work my way through college and medical school because it wasn’t so expensive.”

People are likely to dismiss the idea as crazy because, like many Paul ideas, it’s sort of half-baked and radical for its own sake. While there is no chance whatsoever that Paul will win either the Republican nomination or the presidency itself, his student loan point perhaps deserves some consideration.

So often when conservatives talk about reforming the cost of college they men either cutting grant programs or reducing the amount colleges spend to educate students. But Paul has a point.

The government guarantee for student loans, coupled with a push to provide college education to eveyone, has allowed student loan debt to skyrocket in the last few decades. While that’s allowed students from diverse backgrounds to attend college, it also reduces the actual quality of life available to college graduates, who now have to devote a large portion of their salaries to servicing the debt they accumulated going to college.

Just getting the government out of the student loan business wouldn’t automatically make college affordable and accessible to all students. Paul went to college when the country had no student loans, but most people couldn’t afford to go to college then.

He’s probably right to say it’s a failed program in that it’s brought the nation crippling debt. Just eliminating the program, however, would not take care of the debt and would destroy the prospect of higher education for all.

Now how would we get rid of the debt but keep college available to middle-income citizens? Oh, right.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer