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Home » How College Loans Exploit Students For Profit: Sajay Samuel (Transcript)

How College Loans Exploit Students For Profit: Sajay Samuel (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Sajay Samuel’s talk titled “How College Loans Exploit Students For Profit” at TED conference.

In this TED talk, professor Sajay Samuel delves into the troubling dynamics of the student loan industry in the United States. He highlights that 40 million Americans are burdened with over one trillion dollars in student debt, emphasizing the shift from viewing higher education as a public good to treating it as a consumer product.

Samuel criticizes the system for its profitability at the expense of students, where entities like Sallie Mae and Navient reap billion-dollar profits from student loans. He also points out the inequities within the system, such as the disparity in tuition costs across different majors and the financial strain it imposes on graduates. Samuel proposes a solution called Income-Based Tuition (IBT), aiming to link the cost of education to expected future earnings, thereby making higher education more equitable and preventing financial ruin.

Throughout his talk, Samuel advocates for a reevaluation of how society values education, urging a shift away from profit-driven models to ones that prioritize learning and equitable access. His insightful analysis calls for a critical examination of the commodification of education and its detrimental effects on students and society at large.

Listen to the audio version here:


The New Economy and Its Debt

Today, 40 million Americans are indebted for their passage to the new economy. Too poor to pay their way through college, they now owe lenders more than one trillion US dollars. They do find what jobs they can get to pay off a debt that is secured on their person. In America, even a bankrupt gambler gets a second chance. But it is nearly impossible for an American to get discharged from their student loan debts.

Once upon a time in America, going to college did not mean graduating with debt. My friend Paul’s father graduated from Colorado State University on the GI Bill. For his generation, higher education was free or almost free, because it was thought of as a public good. Not anymore.

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