June 23, 2011

Community Response to Lumni Student Loans

A couple weeks ago, we discussed the brand new company Lumni, who provides educational loans for students in exchange for X percentage of the student's salary for X number of months after graduation, dependent on the size of the loan.

I marveled at the potential behind the idea, but would like to address the two criticisms to this new model given in the comments of that post.

1) The Lumni model should only be available to Med students and Lawyers.
Federal and state governments are currently leaning that way as well, and are shifting grants and student loans based on the new awareness that merely "earning a degree" does not guarantee future economic privilege. Until now, they have subsidized higher education based on the premise that the individual's future output will make up for the initial investment. But this only works if the student enters a marketable field. The beauty of Lumni is that individual investors can choose to be as charitable or savvy as they want. If you have a passion for art and want to see more promising students go to art school, you can provide them with that opportunity.

2) Higher Education should be free for everyone.
Well, currently, it's not. And Lumni will help more students pursue their higher education goals. But, let's discuss what "free" means anyway. Does "free" simply mean that you want the Federal/State governments to subsidize the costs of higher education? Because, that's not free of course. Although, actual "free" education is getting closer. More and more people are using free online resources to teach themselves marketable skills. How to design websites. How to program in C++. How to use Photoshop. But more than that, prestigious universities are beginning to release archived lectures, presentations, notes and study guides for entire courses.  This critical thought education is free. Although, you won't get "credit" for it, and you can't put it on your resume. So, once employers start waiving the "you must have a college degree" mandate, and find new ways to judge applicants based on intellectual capability alone, "free" higher education is right around the corner. Until then, Lumni is a solution that both sides of the equation should be extremely excited about.