College Loan Revolution as 15 Students Refuse to Repay

Fifteen college students are refusing to repay the private and public loans they received to attend Everest College, a for-profit institution that closed its doors.

Fifteen college students are refusing to repay the private and public loans they received to attend Everest College, a for-profit institution that closed its doors, and marred its graduates' degrees, after running into financial trouble.

A group of US senators has joined the fray, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, calling on the Department of Education to "immediately discharge" the federal loans given to the students. In addition, the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau is currently negotiating the forgiveness of the students' private loans. 

Depending on their actions, government and banking institutions may set important precedents for students to challenge the legality of their debt, especially if their school failed to provide an essential service — in Everest's case, teachers stopped showing up for class when the school couldn't afford to pay them.

As economist Daniel Altman explains his Big Think interview, blanket debt forgiveness would create a moral hazard, incentivizing future students to borrow above their means in hopes of also being forgiven. Instead, he proposes a system of private equity investment as a means to pay for higher education:

"Instead of lending a student money, you actually would buy shares in that student’s future income. You would become an equity investor rather than a debt investor in that student. ... I think that to do that we need to structure interesting contracts, we need to do the actuarial basis to figure out how likely the students are to actually make these earnings and then we might have a shot at creating some of these types of devices, these types of securities."

​Is science synonymous with 'truth'? Game theory says, 'not always.'

Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."

  • Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
  • This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
  • On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

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NASA and ESA team up for historic planetary defense test

Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.

ESA's Hera mission above asteroid 65803 Didymos. Credit: ESA/
Surprising Science
  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
  • The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
  • A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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