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City Club with Dr. Matthew Chingos


On Friday, March 9th, we went to the City Club to attend a program concerning student loan debt in which the speaker was Dr. Matthew Chingos, Director of The Education Policy Program at the "Urban Institute" and co-author of "The Game of Loans: The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Loan Debt".

Dr. Chingos made a convincing case for his contention that the common perception that a student graduates from college overwhelmed with student loan debt which he/she will never be able to repay is largely untrue because education is and will continue to be an excellent investment in terms of expanded employment opportunities; thus, even though a student might graduate with close to $40,000 (a high but not an insurmountable amount) in debt, chances are she/he will be able to get a good job that will enable her/him to eventually pay it back.

Instead, people who have more of a problem paying of their student loans are those who do not graduate and are stuck in low paying jobs with very limited resources.

But even in the above scenarios there are programs in place to help restructure their student loan debt so it will be easier to pay off and a big part of the so-called student debt crisis is that these programs are perhaps too complicated for many people to understand as well, for that matter, the entire student loan structure; it surprised us to learn that a lot of people have taken out student loans (sign your name on that line...) and don't even know about it.

We applauded Dr. Chingos when he said that more resources need to be devoted to educating young people in high school as to what college is all about in terms of education and employment opportunities along with the in's and out's of financing one's education. More often than we might think, it just be to a student's advantage to go even further in debt if the end result is more prospects after graduation.

The Friday afternoon program with Dr. Chingos was actually Part II in a City Club exploration of student debt; Part I occurred the previous evening at the Happy Dog where City Club CEO Mr. Dan Moulthrop interviewed admissions officers from Tri-C, CSU, and CWRU about college affordability. Unfortunately, due to other commitments and bad weather we couldn't attend Part I.

While we were at Part II, we asked Dr. Chingos about the student loan debt situation of foreign-born students. Dr. Chingos replied that non-citizens were ineligible for federal student loan programs although this issue was being discussed at the state level.

Amongst the people at the City Club in Friday were students from a communications class at North Olmsted High School who had been given an assignment to rate the speaker (in this case Dr. Chingos) on his delivery.

Afterwards, we spoke to the students about what they thought of the program and we received indications that Dr. Chingos had been indicated quite high as a speaker and also found what he had to say to be quite pertinent to their futures.

Let us also report that Dr. Chingos was introduced by Ms. Lee Friedman, the CEO of "College Now, Greater Cleveland" a very worthy organization supported by Ms. Margaret W. Wong.

As Ms. Friedman said, "college affordability is important to us at College Now. We founded the national college access movement 50 years ago out of a belief that education is a great equalizer, but that college access must be open to all."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC