I felt like the worst boss ever for having our intern orientation on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. But, I changed my mind when I opened my copy of The New York Times early that morning and there, on the front page of the business section, was Rob Lieber's article, "Placing the Blame as Students Are Buried in Debt." Standing in front of our summer interns I passed out copies of the article saying simply, "this is why we do what we do."
Every student has something in mind when they hear the phrase "dream school." Whether it's a childhood ambition of following in a family's footprints to Harvard or attending their state university, kids usually don't have the looming threat of debt from loans on the brain. Every student wants to be able to attend the school of their choice. It is an unfortunate reality that students and their parents need to worry about navigating the confusing, expensive, and often predatory educational financing process.
In his article, Lieber blames the student (Cortney Munna), the family (Cortney's mother), the university (NYU) and the bank (Citibank) for the accumulation of Ms. Munna's student loans that has put her in $97,000 debt. But, Lieber never addresses the real issue: the need for system-wide reform.
Instead of playing the blame game, it is a moral imperative for us as a society to adopt a more reasonable system that provides equal access to education, restoring meritocracy in the educational financing process.
At KR Student Loans, a nonprofit, we're building a social lending platform where anyone in the country can directly lend to students of specific universities, based on the student's profile on our website. Above all, the loans are made extremely simple and easy for students to understand. But, our organization is only part of the solution.
When are we as a society finally going to completely redefine the nature of educational financing? Once all of us begin to focus on truly reforming the system, students will be able finally pursue their dreams without fear of a cruel debt burden. If we don't redefine the nature of student loans, stories like Ms. Munna's will continue to define the system of educational financing and financial aid.
(Written with Samuel Plunkett, Susan Scavone, Ariana Malushi, Joe Liu)