A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discussed an approach taken by New York University to help students and their families understand student loan debt. Through a year-long experiment, the university made 1,800 phone calls to accepted students who qualified for financial aid and explained to them what they would be taking on upon enrollment. Trying to convince students that the debt load may be too large and that they should choose another institution may seem a bit strange. However, NYU clearly recognized that student debt is a problem and not everyone can handle the debt burden.
As the Department of Education finalizes the language on its impending gainful employment rule, this article shows that the challenge of student debt is not just a problem for for-profit schools. The Department of Education should address the problem as one that affects a growing number of students from all types of institutions – traditional and for-profit. NYU’s experiment adds to the debate about how we should manage student debt, and it focuses attention on all schools. Solutions to the problem may include testing a student’s financial aptitude before allowing students to enroll – rather than waiting for the Department of Education to act.