Why are student loans such a big problem? Why are loan balances skyrocketing? If we can figure that out, we can solve the problem, right? But part of the problem is that no one can agree what the cause is.

Here’s what we know: 1. College is expensive, and it’s gotten more expensive at a faster rate than it should have in the past two decades; 2. Higher education is necessary for social mobility; 3. Student loans are usually necessary to pay for tuition and the other costs associated with college. So, why is tuition rising? That might be the right question.

I read an article the other day that explores a possible reason: student loans themselves are the answer to why tuition is increasing. Or, more specifically, how easy it is to get student loans is the problem. Some may also blame colleges’ silly spending habits. Colleges are spending a lot of money on buildings and amenities that have nothing to do with academics to attract more students, which has to be funded by tuition. But maybe the two theories are linked. Because colleges need to fund the buildings, and student loans are so easy for students to get, they simply charge the students more in tuition.

When I went to college, I needed student loans, and even back then it was super easy to get them. And then, after I graduated, I had trouble paying them off, just like so many people are experiencing today. Thankfully, today there are a host of repayment plans that make it easier to stay in the black on your student loans — those weren’t available when I needed them. I had to fight my servicer to get in a repayment plan that fit my needs. But I did, and now I’m happy to be helping others do the same.

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