Too much focus on college degrees

Jul 18, 2013 by

Ron Johnson – With federal student loan debt mounting across the country, lawmakers across the political aisle are in agreement that Washington must help emphasize that jobs training is just as valuable to young Americans as a college degree.

Speaking at POLITICO’s Jobs of the Future event Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said the out-of-control level of student loan debt in the country is in part due to the widespread suggestion that a young person is a “second-class citizen” if he or she doesn’t attain a four-year college degree.

“We’ve actually made college less accessible because we’ve made it so unaffordable and we’ve plunged our children into debt,” Johnson said. “Let’s give our children and their parents the full range of options. Let’s quit preaching to them that their only path to success is a four-year degree.”

Johnson said another problem contributing to the rising amount of student loan debt is that many young people are taking as many as six years to complete their four-year college program, sometimes only to graduate with degrees that employers don’t value.

“They can work, they can go to vocational college,” the senator offered as an alternative.

One of Johnson’s Democratic colleagues, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, agreed that there is a need to highlight the value of two-year degrees and community college education.

“We need to have a different concept of higher education in so far as part-time, full-time, and of course the means of financing,” Blumenthal said at the POLITICO event.

But the Connecticut Democrat lamented Washington gridlock, calling the filibuster in the Senate a “major obstacle” to legislative accomplishments including keeping student loan interest rates low.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Wednesday that federal student loan debt has topped $1 trillion. The news came soon after the student loan interest rate doubled earlier this month from 3.4 to 6.8 percent because Congress failed to reach an agreement to keep the rates low.

via Ron Johnson: Too much focus on college degrees – MJ Lee –

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