High levels of student debt, and excessive costs of higher education have a number of negative consequences. One is the increasing wealth gap. Also, all of the money going to pay off loans could be spent in other ways that stimulate the economy, such as purchasing consumer goods.
One of the easier solutions is to better educate school counselors so they're not steering people into careers where there are limited opportunities. Or, at least let the students know how competitive some of the fields are.
Community colleges and regional state universities need to be built up. A lot of it is a matter of logistics, gearing and coordination. If a student has the option of living at home for all or part of their education, this saves a lot of money. Community colleges and regional state universities usually have more affordable tuition rates.
Definitions for "regional state university" vary. What I mean is schools such as University of Southern Florida, Wayne State University and Mesa State University. These schools are scattered throughout most states, and are often in or around the more populated areas.
These schools could compete better if they just emphasized having good teachers. A good teacher doesn't need to be accomplished in research, and they don't need credentials from the "best" schools. And the schools don't necessarily need to pay more to attract good teachers because they often aren't recognized. If these schools can do this, and be recognized for it, students will choose them, save money and be successful.
Part of the problem is gearing. Community colleges are often geared toward working students. They could increase the study loads. It might take students longer to graduate, but they need to be ready for the four year schools anyway. Regional universities could gear up a little.
State universities should make sure that students from community colleges have a smooth transition. For example,if they satisfied all of the general education requirements there, they shouldn't need additional general education coursework.
My other blog: Bicyclist, Pedestrian and Motorcyclist Rights