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Game of Loans: The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Loan Debt

Thursday December 2016

Over the past two decades, American higher education has faced dramatic changes. School tuition has increased, more students are borrowing money, and the amount of student debt has skyrocketed. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards, with borrowers defaulting on their loans in numbers not seen before.

Those developments, paired with the anxiety around a listless economy, have stoked fears of a massive student debt crisis—fears that have engendered proposals like Bernie Sanders's call for free college.

In Game of Loans: The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Loan Debt, Beth Akers, MI's newest senior fellow, delivers an eloquent rebuttal to this student-debt alarmism. College is still largely a worthwhile investment, Akers argues. The real crisis involves, among others, students who take out loans but do not finish college. By misdiagnosing the problem, she warns, we will only compound the damage.

Beth Akers is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Previously, she was a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a staff economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisors. Akers holds a B.S. from SUNY Albany and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.