Equity is better than debt in financing higher education

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Friday, March 28, 2014

Sometimes it makes sense to borrow to finance an investment; sometimes equity is a better choice. When it comes to college education, however, borrowing (especially through the government) is usually a mistake. If we could catalyze a system of equity financing for higher education, that would be a great improvement over the status quo.

In his 1955 paper “The Role of Government in Education,” Milton Friedman suggested the idea of equity contracts to finance college education. Friedman thought that loans were not the appropriate means of financing education and argued that the better way was to advance the needed funds for college to qualified students, who would repay a percentage of their earnings for an agreed-upon number of years.

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