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Wednesday, February 1, 2023


Higher education has turned into a pyramid scheme

Though student debt at UH is increasing, it is still one of the most affordable universities. Courtesy Photo/ The Daily Cougar

Though student debt is increasing, UH is still one of the most affordable universities. Courtesy Photo/ The Daily Cougar

When we think of college expenses, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is student loans.

Many say student loans are worth it because in the end, one receives an education and is able to acquire a job to pay off the loans. However, according to a recent Forbes article, paying off student loans may not be so simple.

According to Bill Hazelton, founder of, “higher education in this country has turned into a giant pyramid scheme.”

“With tuition prices exploding, students are graduating with up to $200,000 (or more) in student loan debt and can’t find jobs that could possibly support their loan payments, let alone their living expenses.”

Hazelton characterizes the student loan industry as predatory. He blames unfettered capitalism for this problem and believes for-profit colleges are particularly problematic when it comes to predatory lending.

“What these schools do is go after anybody they can get their hands on, securing them federally guaranteed student loans to fund their tuition prices. It’s like a free-money gold rush for these dubious schools,” Hazelton said.

Although Hazelton blames unfettered capitalism for this dilemma, many people believe students should be aware of the loans they will face in college and take responsibility for it.

“We want students to become educated through the higher education process, but that education should begin prior to the first class,” said Melanie Steel, adjunct communication professor. “Students need to be responsible for understanding the loan process, thus taking on some of the responsibility for this situation.”

Luckily for students, the Princeton Review ranked UH last year as a “best value” university and cited it as one of the top institutions for graduating students with a low amount of debt.

Earlier this year, UH and UH-Downtown were recognized as two of the most affordable universities in Texas by the Online College Database.

“In its list of 23 most affordable universities, UH and UH-D were respectively ranked No. 9 and No. 10,” said Richard Bonnin, the interim associate vice president ­for UH marketing and communication and interim associate vice chancellor for the­ UH System.

While worrying about student loans, student should also make sure to decide whether they want a degree of their choice or one that will be able to pay off their debt.

“I don’t think necessarily that higher education is a giant pyramid scheme, but I do think that the term higher ‘education’ is defined rather loosely now. Essentially, you want a degree that can pay off your loans as opposed to a degree studying what you are interested in. It’s a scheme in the sense that you are encouraged to study what you are interested in, but more often than not, your area of interest leads to very few to no jobs,” said math sophomore Mina Khan.

“I think it’s important to understand, when choosing a field of study, the purpose of your degree. Are you hoping to get a degree that will pay off all your loans or are you hoping to get a degree that will educate you, or perhaps both?”

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