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What's Got MDC Buzzing?

What's Got MDC Buzzing?

Beth Akers of the Brookings Institute provides some helpful context to the debate on student lending. While some are warning of a crisis akin to the subprime mortgage debacle, Akers says there really isn’t sufficient evidence to say yay or nay to that. She includes some data that show that the occurrence of astronomical debt burdens is not as frequent as some suppose. She’s also got a chart showing borrowers’ financial hardship, measured by households with any debt payment more than 60 days past due. Those with greater debt burdens are not experiencing greater hardship, likely because high-debt individuals often realize high earnings. However, the greatest hardship is for those with an education debt burden between $10,000 and $20,000. That suggests to us that we should keep our eye on the ratio of debt-to-income. And that suggests where policy priorities in student lending reform ought to be; we agree with Akers that those priorities ought to include consumer protections that educate potential borrowers about how to use loans as a tool to increase the likelihood of future earnings—instead of taking on more than they can reasonably expect to repay.

While loans are already ubiquitous in higher ed, this Bloomberg article describes a model for postsecondary training that we hope will become more common: registered apprenticeships. The programs combine on-the-job training that begins in high school, tuition assistance at local community colleges, and tax-credits for participating employers. Proponents say it’s a way to grow the local workforce and improve retention of students and employees. The story includes details about how South Carolina, Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island and other states are expanding their apprenticeship offerings—it worked for Ben Franklin, right?


  • CLASP has a handy update on recent efforts to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act. It has the word “bi-partisan” in it!
  • Read these essays from a Yale and a Harvard freshman for their perspectives on what it means to be at an elite university for someone who’s the first in their family to attend college. 
  • Do you know about this living-wage calculator? It’s from MIT, so you know it’s wicked smart.
  • Aaaand because you deserve a break today: SharkCat