CNNMoney publishes Susan M. Dynarski op-ed about college loan debt

June 14, 2012

An op-ed co-authored by Susan M. Dynarski and University of Virginia economics professor Sarah Turner was published by CNNMoney. "Ignore the debt hype. College is a great investment," attacks the idea that avoiding student loan debt by skipping college completely is a sensible thing to do.

Dynarski and Turner compare the student debt issue to the housing market crisis—they write that ballooning mortgage debt did not lead economists to abandon home ownership altogether, and that ballooning student loan debt is no reason to abandon altogether.

They cite the fact that federal loan debt incurred under the Stafford program caps at $31,000 for dependent students as evidence that crushing debt loads are not the norm; the average loan amount they cite is $22,000, less than the average new car loan. Large debt loads usually come from private borrowing, they write.

Dynarski and Turner argue that students should keep borrowing to a minimum if they plan to go into a field without good job prospects, and borrowers who cannot work to full capacity should apply for the income-contingent option on federal loans; however, this does not condemn the system as a whole. Good reasons to skip college include "a fabulous job offer from Facebook," but not fear of debt.