Student debt is a problem but the national debt is even worse

William Burns

After four years you finally graduate. You’ve had your fill of mac n’ cheese and over-priced textbooks. Now you’re facing $27,000 in student loans. You aren’t alone, but there’s more bad news. Your share of the national debt is more than $17,000. Unfortunately, the federal government is paying more servicing the national debt than it is on the entire national defense budget. How can the government help students with their debts when it can’t keep up with its own debt? With increased deficit spending, the national debt level is spiralling out of control.

University is an investment. We may take 10 years to pay back our student loans, but at least we will move into higher paying jobs than those without degrees. One day we will escape our student debt, but no matter how hard we work, we will never escape the national debt. Ten cents of every tax dollar goes toward paying back the federal government’s debt. According to the Department of Finance, the federal budget in 2013-2014 spent over $28 billion on debt but only spent $12.3 billion on funding for post-secondary education. This number declined from its peak in 2010-2011 of $12.8 billion.

Government support for Canadians will likely be decreasing as national debt spirals out of control. Interest payments will soon be too much to handle. Under the current spending pattern of the federal government, the annual interest payment towards the national debt in 15 years will be over $50 Billion. Interim Opposition Leader, Rona Ambrose calculated that with this money the government could “Fund the entire annual provincial budget for Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut COMBINED.”

Although student debt levels are in crisis, the good news is that in 15 years we are expected to pay them off. In that time the government will have nearly doubled its annual debt payments. So what will be more expensive for students? Our short-term debt or our national debt? If the current debt levels are expending over 10% of our taxes, when the debt doubles, that will mean either our taxes will increase or we will see less money allotted to healthcare and education. This out of control debt caused by increased government spending is a crisis. It will consume the national budget and force us all to pay more in taxes or receive less in services. Student debt may hold us down, but the national debt will bury us.

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