Not but a few years ago did we watch as the economy took a one-two knockout and the roof over the housing market collapsed under the weight of loans that were beyond mortgage holders’ capacity to pay.
We are at a time where officialdom is hailing the economy’s comeback while parents and their children are likely wondering how true that is. Unemployment figures have shown great improvement -- and certainly that is true in South Carolina as well -- but there are plenty of students still seeking jobs and, worse, scrambling to pay horrendous student loans.
It is those loans that cause some to worry another type of economic collapse could be looming, and for good reason. Tuition continues to go up -- Lander University, USC and Clemson, for example, just gave the OK to hike tuition by roughly 3 percent -- and students and parents alike continue to amass greater and greater debt. It is, in short, scary. And for many students, the jobs that are available are hardly sufficient to keep pace with the sizable tuition payments they face after crossing the stage and receiving their diplomas. For some graduates, it’s even worse as they attended school for more than what used to be a typical four-year stretch.

The inflating tuition costs are also causing some high school students to reassess their plans for attending college. They worry about the debt they will accrue and, often, wonder whether it will be worth it in the end. The never-ending drum beat our youngsters have heard about why they need a college degree is perhaps fading among many who are fraught with fear they will not be able to pay off their loans. Instead, they might choose to go straight into the work force, with loosely laid plans to return to school when -- and if -- they can afford it. Meanwhile, those who grab the loans and, with their parents, take the plunge might well find themselves in a sea of debt they cannot escape. More and more likely will simply default on their loans, not because they lack the integrity to pay back what they have borrowed, but simply because they lack the ability.
We don’t pretend to have the answers, but this much we believe: The continuing high costs of receiving a higher education are going to prevent more and more people from attending our colleges and universities. The domino effect that will have should be obvious to anyone. Imagine what will happen to our country’s economy as students who should get a college degree do not, when students who otherwise could command higher-paying jobs cannot. Couple that with the effects of those who, not by choice but by necessity, default on their college loans and the outlook is bleak.