Is wiping out college debt feasible?

Marshall High School offers valuable careers class that helps guide students in making smart decisions

Sen. Bernie Sanders upped the ante on his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday, calling for the government to eliminate all college student loan debt. Just wipe it out, all $1.6 trillion of it.

How to pay for it? Sanders would raise the money through a tax on Wall Street speculators.

His rival for the nomination, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a slightly more modest plan to eliminate college debt, with a cap of $50,000 per student, and would offer no forgiveness to households with more than $250,000 in annual income. She would pay for her plan with a 2% fee on fortunes of greater than $50 million.

These kinds of promises make wonderful campaign promises, sure to grab attention, but hardly likely to see enactment. It’s just not going to happen.

Still, the figures they are bandying about bring a spotlight on the enormity of the problem. College students today are being saddled with an increasingly unmanageable cost for attending school. Urged on by the promise that a college education is the key to a more prosperous, successful life, students and their parents take on levels of debt that ensure that they will start out their post-college career saddled with a lifetime of payments.

We can imagine the boost to the economy if money being paid each month for students loan payments were available for buying homes and cars or starting families.

No wonder politicians think they can gain support by dangling this bright promise in front of the voters.

But simply forgiving college loan debt only treats the symptom and not the disease.

This country needs to take a look at why college costs are skyrocketing. What is making it so blasted expensive?

And is the investment really worth the return, when one considers starting out life with tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands in debt?

At Marshall High School, students are able to get a firsthand look at careers before making that investment. Students entering their senior year can enroll into a careers class. The teacher, Brenda Kellen, helps the students line up internships with business mentors in the community.

Avera Marshall Hospital has been offering internships to Marshall students for years. While a high school student is unable to perform official tasks because of licensing, that student can observe employees on a daily basis.

One of the students who participated in the internship program at Avera this past school year is now planning to attend a nursing program in Iowa.

Another student spent time with the public defender’s office. The student said he was pleasantly shocked when shown his own office. And he gained valuable experience sitting in on court hearings.

This student is planning to major in political science at a Minnesota college.

Even with this internship experience, there are no guarantees that these students will eventually succeed in gaining a college diploma. But at least they are getting a pretty good look into what they are getting themselves into before making such a large financial plunge.

We applaud Marshall High School for helping students navigate through these big academic and career decisions. And we applaud the businesses offering the internship opportunities.


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