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Student Loans

December 25, 1987

Re "The Default Syndrome" by David DeVoss, Dec. 15: I would like to speak for the many college alumni who have repaid their student loans. I am sure a great many of us find your article stomach-churning. We all signed the promissory note and understood what we were signing. By law we were required to read the note and have it explained to us by qualified bank personnel before we signed. We all had it spelled out in language that even college students can understand. We had an obligation to repay the loan plus the agreed upon interest upon termination of our studies.

People who ignore this obligation demonstrate a fundamental problem in our society--the willingness to allow others to bear the cost of our personal lack of responsibility. Do student loan defaulters think about the effect they have on the federal budget? Do they think about the budget's effect on jobs and economic opportunity for others? Do they think about the viability of a program with costs rising many times the rate of inflation? Do they think about the college students 10 years from now who may not be able to avail themselves of these low interest loans to help finance their education?

Sadly, the only thing these people seem to think of is how the world around them affects themselves. We who honor our debts applaud any hard line measures taken to force these deadbeats to repay. It is wrong to refund withheld income taxes to these people. It is wrong to allow these people to live their financial lives without noting their delinquency on their credit records.

As for the intimated solution of requiring a career goal of the applicants, there is a very good cliche: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." It is not uncommon for a student's career goals to change several times before graduation. In fact, at 18 years of age, few college students have absolute certainty about their career ambitions.

What the issue all comes down to is acceptance of personal responsibility. I would suggest that those who want a Guaranteed Student Loan look closely at their financial need for school. Before applying for a loan, all other possible sources of funds should be explored, secured and enumerated. The loan should only be for the difference between the need and the proven supply. This is how any responsible person handles financing anything. Real life lessons such as these are as important as the ones found in text books. Only by promoting and insisting on fulfilling personal responsibilities can this program begin to operate within its budget.

STEVEN SETTELMAYER

Yorba Linda

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