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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: The Student Loan Crisis

student loans
Quince Creative

We are looking at the student loan crisis all wrong. Sometimes a problem takes on a whole new meaning when looked at differently, such as the case with student loans.

A generation ago there was no student loan crisis. Then slowly, gradually, student loans began to grow as government support for post-secondary education shrank. That “government support” was taxes. Taxes that used to be levied on the public. It was convenient for student loans to replace those taxes. Colleges and universities quickly realized shrinking tax support could be replaced by student loans. Instead of student education being seen as a cost to be controlled, each student became a funding source with an endless sack of money.

To attract students, great effort was put into course offerings, luxury housing, new buildings and winning sports teams. Financing post-secondary education on the backs of students and their families is not a sustainable model. Let's recognize student loan payments for what they really are -- taxes on students and their families.

How do we solve this crisis? Not by forgiving loans or telling loan holders to suck it up. But by making loan payments recognized for what they are: Taxes. They should be treated as tax payments, enabling payers to get tax credit for their payments and immediate relief through higher take home pay.

The Student Tax Option bill makes this possible, but only if supporters urge Congress to pass this bill and make student loan payments federal tax credits.

I’m John Frana. And that's my perspective.