Student Loans VS. Big Oil

Commentary, Education, Amanda Achtman

 It’s time to drill the entitlement mentality out of Canadian students.

In a recent Youtube video students are studying around a kitchen table when ominous music begins to play as they anticipate the impending delivery of their student loan statements. The students are nervous but begin to celebrate ecstatically upon seeing the words “DEBT CANCELLED.” 

There is a severe sense of entitlement among students who regard post-secondary education as a basic human right, which it is not. Part of the pervasive entitlement mentality that exists among students is the idea that education is work and so students should be paid to do it or, at very least, not pay for it.

Canceling student debt is awarding payment before the student does work. This destroys the idea of a loan as money lent temporarily with the expectation of being repaid. Eliminating student debt creates a dependency relationship. The student is then denied a lesson in the resiliency that can lead to self-reliance and responsible citizenship. 

Deflecting responsibility to government, companies, or even parents to pay for education has detrimental effects for these students. 

According to a Statistics Canada study:

“[B]orrowers did not differ significantly from non-borrowers in terms of employment rates, total personal income and the likelihood of having a registered pension plan.

However, borrowers had a significantly lower probability of having savings and investments than non-borrowers. Analysis showed that among postsecondary graduates aged 20 to 45 in 2007, 42% of those who had borrowed money to finance their schooling had savings and investments, compared with 52% of other postsecondary graduates, all other factors being equal.

Borrowers with postsecondary education were less likely to own their homes, and when they did, they were slightly more likely to have a mortgage than non-borrowers with postsecondary education.”

There are many ways for students to take responsibility for their education. These include: part-time work, generous scholarships, internship opportunities, conferences and seminars. Many of these opportunities are provided by oil companies that the Climate Action Network Canada (CANRAC), who produced the video, is so vehemently attacking. 

CANRAC is trying to use one problem (government subsidies to companies) to solve another problem (student loan debt). We need to solve problems, not use problems in attempts to fix different ones.

Once the students in the Youtube video receive notification of their cancelled debt, they do not race back to the table with an eagerness to study. This is not surprising. In the same way that winning the lottery inspires a disincentive to work, so too does eliminating student debt inspire a disincentive to study. The means to appreciating the worth of something valuable is to pay for it.