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Posted: 1:27 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012

Should we ban private student loans from higher education?

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By Clark Howard

People say I am hypocritical and inconsistent in being so strident about my positions on for-profit private colleges on the one hand and my feelings on elementary and second education on the other.

I've long said you shouldn't attend a for-profit private college at the same time that I am so vehement about us going to school choice, charter schools, and using vouchers for private schools in non-higher education settings.

Too many people who go the for-profit private college route end up with huge student loans. Statistics show more than half drop out without a degree and get stuck with an unmanageable load of debt.

The ethical problem is that these schools don't live in the free market, but rather on the backs of the taxpayer. So they exist without any incentive to care that the students succeed in their classrooms and matriculate to a degree that leads to a better job and higher pay.

If we eliminated federal student loans (or even private student loans) from all higher education, we'd lower the cost of education. That's because we wouldn't have this hot money taking the discipline away from schools that would otherwise be controlling their expenses. And we wouldn't have people taking on a lifelong burden of such bone-crushing debt.

That's why there's such a significant difference in what I say about K-12 education vs. secondary education, particularly the for-profits.

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