MISS: In 1971, the average annual cost to attend a four-year public college was about $8,700 in today’s dollars. In 2016, it cost close to $21,000. That being the case, it’s no wonder that students are saddled with debt once they get their diplomas and start building their adult lives. As a story by Mike Tony that appeared in Monday’s Observer-Reporter noted, Pennsylvania is a leader when it comes to student debt. According to the website LendEDU, Pennsylvania boasts the fourth-highest average student loan debt in the country, with each borrower owing an average of $35,510. Michael Brown, an analyst with LendEDU, said the higher cost of living in mid-Atlantic states could have something to do with it, but it must also be underlined that Pennsylvania lawmakers have been notoriously stingy in recent years when it comes to supporting higher education. Unfortunately, a solution is probably not on the horizon. According to Brown, “(I’m) fairly confident we’re going to continue to see the cost of higher education continue to go up.”
MISS: Students completing their work in colleges and universities aren’t the only ones who are mired in debt. According to an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month, families are taking on more debt to finance middle-class lifestyles. According to the newspaper, consumer debt now stands at $4 trillion – the largest it has ever been. Along with student debt, Americans are using credit to pay for ever-more-costly cars and houses, along with medical care and other consumer goods. A substantial part of the reason for this is that incomes have not kept up with rising costs. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that “the debt is ... an accumulated ledger of economic risk. If job losses begin to rise, it would become unsustainable for some share of borrowers.” And that would hurt the economy all the way around. On the one hand, consumers need to be more thrifty. On the other, Americans need a raise.
HIT: We’re guessing that as long as there have been schools, there have been schoolchildren longing for snow days. Many of us remember having our ears glued to a radio or our eyes latched onto the TV to see if our school would cancel classes during a snowstorm. Going forward, it appears a lot of kids will no longer have that experience. A law signed this summer by Gov. Tom Wolf gives school districts the opportunity to sign onto a program for “flexible instruction days.” In a nutshell, students will be able to stay home and do their classwork on their computers. If the bad news for kids is that they won’t be able to enjoy traditional snow days, there is some good news: They won’t have to make up those days later, when the weather is better.
HIT: Kudos to officials in Canonsburg who are looking to the future in regard to parking in the borough. Under a plan that’s still in its early stages, Canonsburg would gradually switch from its standard coin parking meters to parking kiosks. The change would affect parking in the borough’s business district and would involve both on-street parking and lots. For one thing, the kiosks will provide motorists with more payment options, including credit cards and the use of mobile apps. The kiosks will still take coins. Mayor Dave Rhome says if the borough goes forward with the plan, there will be a trial period involving one kiosk, and public response will be considered. There no doubt will be some resistance, because there is always some resistance to change, but this proposal seems like a winner to us.