Replace Student Loan Debt with ‘Student Equity’?

The Times ran an intriguing piece by Chicago’s Luigi Zingales proposing to substitute ‘student equity’ for student loan debt. There’s something unsettling about the author’s choice of a term that typically describes an ownership stake in property to describe an investor’s relationship with an individual’s future. But Zingales persuasively takes on the current academic establishment by framing it as a privileged class whose wealthy institutions are subsidized by taxpayers, generally, and by young people who have few resources, but who arguably require the services of its institutions to progress in their own lives. In reality, the current debt industry has worse than an ownership stake in many individuals’ futures. And it seems patently unfair that universities with massive war chests can charge astronomical tuitions to teenagers and twenty-somethings, financed by government and banks– only to have the students be the ones who take on almost all the financial risk.