The drumbeat of risk sharing with regard to student-debt default has been getting louder. Senator Elizabeth Warren jumped into the debt-free college fray last week with a proposal that included risk sharing and the Chronicle ran a commentary piece from Douglas Webber largely extoling the virtues of the policy. While Webber’s piece makes some important points, like Warren, he fails to take into account factors beyond a college’s control.
In all of the talk of risk sharing and institutional accountability, we have lost sight of the fact that a college education is a partnership between an institution and a student. Students have both a responsibility and a significant degree of control in this venture. A college can offer comprehensive financial and academic advising, but it is the student who makes the decisions that effect how much they borrow, what their major will be, how they engage in their learning experience and how they take advantage of the institutional programs that best prepare them to enter the job market.