Two Ways to Reduce Student Loan Debt


Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest (John 4:35).

ABC News recently reported that several senior U.S. policymakers addressing the 1,000-attendee “Make Progress” National Summit in Washington, D.C., identified “reducing student loan debt” as first among five top national goals to be achieved before January 2017. One supposes that the 91.8 million Americans who have left the U.S. labor force in this still-sluggish economy might have merited a higher priority, or perhaps even reforming entitlement programs that threaten to consume 34% of the economy by 2044 might have found a place at the top of the list.

No. Reducing student loan debt was regarded by these executive and legislative branch leaders as America’s top national goal. Student loan debt is inarguably a chocolate mess. 41 million Americans are currently in debt for the costs of their college educations. A staggering $1.2 trillion is now owed with all but $170 billion to the U. S. taxpayers. A call to action is entirely in order, but what action?

This is obviously reductio for the purposes of this brief message, but let’s say there are two ways: 

  1. Their Way
    These policymakers propose simply forgiving a very substantial portion of the aggregate national student loan debt, essentially seizing the profits of private institutions who already competed with artificially low interest on federal loans, and then let people who have otherwise dutifully gone about making their own loan and tax payments on time pick up the tab for those who borrowed beyond their ability to repay. Sound like the makings of another major economic dislocation? It should.
  2. Our Way
    What if we created new higher education alternatives that weren’t so laden with frivolous curriculum, entertainment experiences, classroom-absent professors, and excessive capital infrastructure? What if instead we built institutions that offer intellectually rigorous degree programs, required experienced professors to actually teach students, and otherwise went light on all the frilly stuff? Finally, rather than confiscate money to pay for educational institutions that cost students too much money, fail to educate, and advance values at odds with their benefactors, what if we appealed to the better natures of those who would only too gladly  give to equipping the next generation to launch into adult life without debt…especially to launch into the Greatest Cause of All?

This is exactly what, with God’s help and yours, we are trying to do at Bethlehem College & Seminary, and it’s why we are asking that you would please go to prayer over the needs of this bold new educational enterprise, as we are praying that sensible, generous people like you will see the wisdom and generational benefits in this “other” plan.

Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35).

Why would we encumber energetic, well-trained, young servants of Christ with burdensome debt that might entangle them for a decade or more when the work of evangelism is so urgent and the field for harvest so white and ready? Or why would we entangle our school in the  entangling strings of the government’s loan scheme as it grows more hostile to our values and religious liberty with seemingly each passing day? At Bethlehem we aren’t and we won’t, thanks to those like you who keep us covered in prayer and resources. We thank God for you. You truly excel in completing this act of grace (2 Corinthians 8:6).

Rick Segal
Vice President of Advancement and the Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce and Vocation