I am a dreamer, but the regular nightmare I experience is student loan debt. When asked how to deal with the growing cost of tuition, I push for a radical approach.
As a professor who personally deals with student loan and hears the multitude of issues from students, how do I make a case for the benefits of college as U.S. tuition rises in ways that do not add up to the basic rates of inflation?
I propose that education be incentivized with home ownership. If millions of students must pay back student loans that are equivalent of mortgage debt, than we should repurpose or repackage these loans into real estate equity.
I know I am a dreamer. Dream with me.
Two major financial bubbles still troubling the economy are housing and student loans.
Cities and towns across the country have pockets of their metropolises that are literally or almost ghost towns. These municipalities are more than likely experiencing fiscal issues too, and find trouble recovering when a portion of tax paying home owners have decreased. Simultaneously, the current job market offers few jobs with salaries that can accommodate millions of students who graduate with bachelor degrees and $30k to $80k of student loan debt.
My proposition centers the idea of re-incentivizing a college degree with a tangible outcome that links educated people to community. At the same time, this initiative helps grow struggling parts of the country.
Owning a home in the U.S. is the core of stability and even to a large degree, a large part of civic participation; however, many college graduates live in insecurity. This is why I call for graduates to be implanted in communities with real estate attached to their diplomas.
Here is how it works. College and university graduates must apply to a program in which they are gifted a home. But, not just any home. They will be presented with an abandoned or foreclosed home (or land) in cities and towns with high numbers of empty houses. Each awardee is given three to five years to rebuild or build on their land.
In a city like Newark, New Jersey, where I live, there are hundreds of empty, dilapidated homes that are taxing the city. Some blocks are 50% abandoned. With this program, college students from neighboring Rutgers University-Newark can immerse themselves into a community from more than the experience of a student. This brings layers of value between graduates and citizens.
The program includes a yearlong certificate where graduates take hands-on courses that assist in their success of reconstructing a home and building relationships in the community. The yearlong program will be like a credential program or training-certificated program that trains students in areas that many traditional majors at colleges fail to do. The main areas are the following:
- Construction or agricultural
- Real financial literacy
Once they successfully complete the program, graduates gain access to discounted (government approved) local services, trades persons and materials. If graduates finish building in the time allotted then they receive a dramatic reduction or complete forgiveness of their loan. If they do not finish on time, they must take on an affordable mortgage that aligns with their income.
By saving a house and establishing a part in a community, graduates have increased the value of the district in which they live, and reduced the leakage of money that goes into maintaining empty homes.