No, I'm not talking about the numerous congressional bailouts that have been taking place within the past year. I'm talking about something a little less noticed...financial aid programs for college students. Financial aid programs are great since they give an opportunity to those that are economically disadvantaged to pursue a higher level of education. But there's an irony to these programs and how they may be impacting the economy.
Say what you will about our economic problems, but it is difficult to deny that debt is not a significant, if not primary, cause of economic troubles not just in the United States, but in many other nations. The federal government is deep in debt. Individuals are filing for bankruptcy and foreclosing on mortgages. But wait! These days, what's usually the first time a person finds themselves in debt? Isn't it during the college years, either from paying tuition or spending more than one has via a credit card? And then financial aid comes around and tells us, "Okay, you have a big house that you barely own, not much in savings or investments, and a couple of kids in the family off of two sources of income. You sound like you could use some help."
And then the other guy. A family that knows how to save so losing a job doesn't mean losing the house. Doesn't indulge in buying a new car and computer every year just because it's the latest and greatest. The mortgage on the small but sufficient house has nearly been paid off. All-in-all financially responsible. Financial aid: "You get nothing. You'll give us everything you have before we help you out."
Wait a sec...if you're financially responsible, you have to pay through the nose for college, but if you live paycheck to paycheck you get lots of help? Granted, this statement doesn't cover everyone. There are those families that are very well off where the kids can be sent off to top notch colleges and the parents can retire and still have extra leftover. There are also those that suffer financially through no fault of their own and really could use the help. But that group in the middle...what's going on there?
I really don't know what to do here. I have no better solution to this potential issue. But it's something I think is worth pondering.
As a footnote: I do not intend to offend anyone by writing this, but there is just something that bothers me a bit when I think about the system that compels me to share my thoughts, disorganized or poorly expressed though they may be.