Student Debt Threatens Our Future as a Country. Let’s Act!

How do you tell a promising student with the heart and mind to be a fantastic teacher that she can’t afford to join us in the world’s best profession?

How do you explain that the devastating combination of student debt (so big!) and teacher pay (so not big!) means she should probably walk across campus and join up with the computer scientists, or maybe the geologists, to better shoulder the tens of thousands of dollars in student debt dumped on poor and middle-class Americans?

When I went to the University of Utah so many years ago (okay, not that many!) I borrowed from the federal government, and when I graduated I might have owed $4,000, maybe $5,000. I think my total tuition was $168 per term. Now a first-year student at that same “public” university pays more than $1,000 per CREDIT, and the price of just a single year’s tuition is approaching $20,000.

And that’s the in-state rate!

As president of the National Education Association, this terrifies me. I look into my crystal ball of obvious issues and I see classrooms without teachers. I see students of color, students whose parents don’t make a million dollars a year (and there are lots of these students out there!) being unable to afford to follow me into the greatest profession on Earth — a profession, by the way, that our democracy, our economy, and our very health depends upon.

Especially now, as the U.S. becomes more diverse, and income inequality grows, we need to make sure all Americans have a fair shot at higher education.

Student debt threatens the next generation of public servants, our economy and our future as a country

Join our #DegreesNotDebt campaign.

“NEA’s student members have sounded the alarm for us, as college is so much more expensive than when I attended,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “We’re seeing new educators with over $50,000 in student loan debt—way more than their first year’s salary as a teacher and much higher of a payment than they can afford to pay. So we’re standing beside all college students and helping them fight for more affordable solutions, such as the ability to refinance their debt, and connecting them to resources they may not know about, such as loan forgiveness programs.”

Are you an educator with student debt? You need to watch this:

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