Student Debt

Thanks to the Straight, Charlie Smith, Mark O'Meara, and Tara Henley for exposing the confusion and bureaucratic complexity of student loans and offering useful advice to students trying to cope. The student-loan system itself is a major contributor to student default. Until this fact is recognized by government, the default rate will continue to rise despite the penalties.

I've worked in financial-aid offices at a university, a college, and an institute over the course of more than 20 years. Students faced with rapidly rising tuition fees, the high cost of living in the Lower Mainland, and a low-wage job sector are often forced to take on even more debt beyond student loans. Banks offer lines of credit to students fortunate enough to have an employed, credit-worthy cosigner. The actual level of student indebtedness is unknown because credit cards and bank loans on top of student loans are a reality for many students. Students from low-income families cannot borrow beyond student loans and have nowhere else to turn except student aid to get through their studies.

I agree with Doug Welbanks that the student-loan system may have lost sight of its original purpose. Reform is badly needed.

Connie Gibbs / Vancouver