imageStudent debt in the U.S. totaled $900 billion as many college students sign large loans than they can’t. Many students miss or do not completely understand the fine print detailing compounding interest and or other penalties. Should congress not act federal student loan rates on July 1st, interest rates will rise. That means that the average student will accrue thousands in additional debt.

The cost of a college education has been about three times that of inflation since the 1970s. Fueled by government subsidies, colleges and universities experienced large incentives to jack up tuition and fees. Thus, many well-educated adults are struggling to navigate one of the worst economies of modern times while simultaneously awash in debt.

Buddhism recognizes the importance of the fulfillment of the minimum material needs for a decent living, even in the case of the aspirants of its higher spiritual goal. But as I travel around the world, I find individual and social values cannot be de-linked. For me, poverty, consists in the non-possession of the basic material requirements for leading a decent life free from hunger, malnutrition and disease. And while I am not promoting material needs or the albatross of debt, for most, a solid useful education is a significant key for reducing poverty and ending exploitation.

It seems almost impossible to remove poverty from society. As emergency savings take priority in household budgets, American families are failing to reach educational goals. People living in poverty lack opportunities, role models showing them what’s possible to achieve and contacts to guide them in reaching their dreams. Across the globe, women and children are more likely to be poor and malnourished and less likely to receive medical services, clean water, sanitation, and other benefits.

To combat this trend, education has been particularly emphasized for reducing overall poverty. Expanding education has a positive effect on fertility, infant mortality, nutrition and enrollment rates of the next generation. Keeping children in school is an awesome strategy for reducing child labor.

Allowing student loan interest rates to rise to combat sequestration would be tragic. Government and educational institutions need to reduce the cost of continuing education and raising education costs will not positively impact society.