A few legislative sessions ago, a Phoenix lawmaker introduced a bill that would have required students in Arizona’s colleges and universities to pay $2,000 in tuition costs out of pocket; they could not borrow it, he insisted, but had to come up with the money on their own. The legislator argued that this measure, in the words of a reporter for Capitol Media Services, “would ensure students have some ‘skin in the game,’ making it more likely they would take their education seriously.”
Taken seriously or not, the costs of higher education are rising dramatically, so much so that it is estimated that student-loan debt now exceeds credit-card debt in the United States. The burden of debt is so serious that a lawmaker in the U.S. Congress introduced a “student loan forgiveness act of 2012.” It was not enacted, and coping with student loans is a challenge for almost everyone who carries their burden.
The editor of your local newspaper has asked you, as an economist, to write an “op-ed” piece—that is, an essay of opinion—discussing some aspect of what has all the makings of an economic crisis. You may, for instance, want to write of the merits of cancelling student debt; or of the role an educated populace plays in an economy based on technology and innovation; or of the benefits to society by way of higher incomes and therefore higher taxes paid to and by college-educated workers; or of the economic effects that loan forgiveness might have, intended or otherwise.
In other words, you have considerable leeway in the topic of your essay. Whatever the case, though, you must include an economic concept to inform your discussion. This is an essential part of the assignment, so please do not overlook it.
Your op-ed piece must not exceed 500 words and must be no shorter than 475 words. You would do well to study op-ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal and other publications to get a sense of their structure.