Roy Blunt Blames Students’ Lifestyle Expectations for High Debt

by Joan McCarter –

roy blunt

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, of course a Republican, thinks the problem with student loan debt is that those damned college students just have too high expectations for their standard of living, and that’s why they’re drowning in debt. If they didn’t take out so much damned money to live high on the hog, then they wouldn’t be so far in debt. No, really. That’s what he said at a recent Senate hearing on student debt.

At the hearing, Blunt pointed to the “personal living standard” of students as a significant factor in rising levels of student debt.“I’m pretty confident over the years that the student expectations for their personal living standards often have increased from where they would have been just a few years ago,” Blunt told Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Duncan seemed a bit taken aback by the suggestion, not at all sure that it was part of the problem, but Blunt is pretty convinced. “It may be a bigger piece of the puzzle than we think,” he told Duncan. He doesn’t really have any evidence, but he’s confident this is the problem nonetheless.

That got Jason Kander, Blunt’s Democratic challenger and current secretary of state, wondering. So he decided to actually talk to students and a student loan officer about what their higher education was costing them. The funny thing is, none of them seemed to be lazy grifters, in it for the lifestyle.

Around the table, students shared stories echoing similar refrains: They worked multiple jobs. They got scholarships. They were still in debt. […]Amy Wasowicz, a sophomore at MU, said she was asked to find another job after she hit the $1,500 cap on her federally subsidized work-study position.

Wasowicz was also concerned with the impact of the cost of student housing on student debt. She said she struggled to find affordable housing near bus stops and within walking distance from her classes.

Here’s something crazy that Gena Boling, associate director of MU’s Office Financial Aid brought up in the meeting. MU receives enough federal funding for subsidized work-study to hire just 1,000 students. The allocation for work-study from the feds hasn’t changed since the program was created in the Higher Education Act of 1964. That might have been something Blunt would have learned at his hearing, if Blunt gave enough of a damn to learn about student debt and what Congress could be doing about it. Clearly, it’s easier to blame the student. Missouri needs a new senator.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos