Skin in the student loan game
Sheila Bair (“Sheila Bair Sees the Seeds of Another Financial Crisis,” Interview, March 3) is so right about colleges having no skin in the troubled student loan game, which creates a fundamental misalignment of incentives. Colleges play a role like mortgage brokers did in the housing bubble: promoting the loans, getting the borrower to run up debt, and immediately benefiting financially from the loan but having zero economic interest in whether the loan defaults or not. Therefore, it has been too easy for colleges to inflate their costs into a bubble that floats on the government-sponsored debt, just as the bubble in house prices did. The solution is straightforward: Colleges should be fully on the hook for the first 20% of the student loan losses from each cohort of their students. This would make colleges care about their students’ future financial success, care about their defaults and losses, better control their costs, and in general create better outcomes for all concerned.