Students: Learn Now, Pay Much Later

Long-term student loans to help finance a college education are easy to get. A federal program lends almost $100 million annually, and banks in almost all states participate in plans to guarantee loans. But repaying the loans can be painful. In most programs, repayment arbitrarily begins two to six months after graduation and must be completed in three to six years (although the federally sponsored National Defense Student Loan Program extends the debt-redemption period to ten).

In the current Harvard Educational Review, Economist Edward Shapiro of the University of Detroit argues that loan programs are unrealistic because they are unrelated...

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