Jay Lenkersdorfer

I don’t want this column to be a rehash of the week’s political events but I do want to bring forth a few of the lines of thought that are as toxic for our nation as anything that is topping the headlines, and it centers around solving people’s problems.

One of the big attention getting headlines we’ve been hearing deals with the size of student loan debt. Anyone that has been enrolled in a college or has children currently enrolled, knows just how big of a burden student loans can be. Many professions are impossible to go into without incurring huge debt.

Our son-in-law is currently a pharmacist for a national pharmacy chain. His pharmacy degree from the University of Utah is the equivalent of a Doctorate student with seven years of schooling. Anyone that has gone through a doctorate level coursework knows how demanding each and every class was. Our son-in-law would study for hours on end just to take a chemistry exam and there were dozens of these kinds of quizzes each year. It was incredibly demanding.

During this time, he held a 20-hour-per-week job at a pharmacy near the U of U campus and he had a wife and two children. He and our daughter also managed an apartment building near campus that essentially paid their rent. When they finally graduated from college our son-in-law had amassed a student loan debt of $150,000. I cannot imagine how much higher it would have been had he not worked and managed the apartment building.

As a pharmacist he was in demand and had his pick of a number of different jobs, but he took one in New Mexico, not because he loved the state or had a connection to it. He took the job because it paid considerably more than jobs that were closer to where he wanted to raise his family. One of the goals they set was to pay off their student loan debt over five years.

In a conversation with our daughter earlier this year she let us know that by the time December rolled around they would be 100 percent student loan free. It took them closer to six years to do so because during that time period they have paid for not one, not two, but three Life Flight air ambulance flights. Two for her youngest son Adam and one for our daughter. We are very proud of our daughter and son-in-law for setting a goal and sticking with it.

Bernie Sanders has made a huge deal about forgiving peoples student loan debt. He says a lot of the right things – how it is burdensome, suffocating and depressing to graduate with a lifetime of student loan debt but he fails to point out that each loan that was taken out was done so with the caveat that the student would indeed pay it back. None of these loans was mandated, they were voluntarily taken out.

It is not the economies fault that student “A” spent six years at ISU to graduate with a four year degree in independent studies or that student “B” spent four years in college to become a business major only to find out that nobody is hiring business students with anything less that an MBA. The loans these students took out aren’t my problem, your problem or even their parents’ problem, it is their problem.

How popular is Bernie Sanders among young people these days? Actually, he leads all candidates in the 18 to 28-year-old voter classification and it is most likely because he has convinced these kids that he will forgive their student loans if he is made president. I don’t know where he plans to get the money to do so, and frankly the students really don’t care where the money comes from, so long as they don’t have to pay them back.

Forget about the fact that these kids took out these loans of their own free will and choice, some borrowing more than $50,000 over four years because they didn’t’ want to hold down a part time job while in college, what fun would that be? Kids would use student loan money to fund a party during Spring Break or a cruise to the Caribbean. They didn’t’ buy used textbooks they bought new ones because they had all this extra money to do so.

Some college kids used student loans to buy a new car or to rent the nicest apartment complex that had a pool. Rather than use college to prepare for the rest of their life, they used it to fund a lifestyle that would soon come to an end. And they are banking on Bernie to get elected so he can wipe the slate clean.

The bottom line is simple. Life is hard and will require sacrifice all along the way. If you want to make your child’s life easy, stop making it so easy. Require them to sacrifice some of the luxuries their peers are enjoying by way of their student loans. If you are a college student reading this you need to buckle down and dig deep. If you really do need a loan to get by make sure it is for the smallest amount possible. If your degree is in liberal arts or psychology you might as well quit school right now because all you’ll be qualified to do is work at McDonalds.

I believe that education is critical to success in life but not at all costs. Earn enough money to pay as you go, make sacrifices, and learn to say no when your buddies want you to go to Miami for spring break. Finally, if you have taken out student loans, please plan on paying them back as soon as possible.

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