debt

Flickr / USDA

 

This year, many northern Michigan schools forecast student lunch debt, and without regulation from government to collect those dues, districts have to figure it out on their own.

School lunch debt has increased in recent years to the point where the median amount each district carries is just over $3,000, according to the School Nutrition Association —  a professional organization that monitors lunches at schools.

Over 9,000 people struggling with medical debt in northern Michigan will get an early holiday gift this year. The Michigan Nurses Association announced Thursday they're donating $8.9 million to the cause.

“We know that we have patients who say over and over that they are worried about paying the hospital bills when they should be worried about getting better and going home,” says Melissa Boals, a nurse at Munson Medical Center and member of the nurses association board.

Grand Traverse County

Nate Alger is the new Grand Traverse County administrator. On Wednesday, the county board of commissioners unanimously approved Alger’s contract. Alger is expected to sign the contract with a starting salary of $124,000 and a start date of July 1.

 

Alger takes over a county that is dealing with instability as it tackles pension debt, suicides in the jail and employee dissatisfaction. Alger says stagnant pay and reduced benefits have caused some animosity with employees in the past, but he plans to work on that.

Grand Traverse County

Three volunteer members of Grand Traverse County's Pension Advisory Board submitted their resignations Monday.

The county has a pension debt of more than $50 million. The advisory board is working to identify ways to reduce it and present those findings to county commissioners.

In their letter of resignation the citizen members – Christopher Radu, Robert Zimmerman and Michael Gillman – say, "our recommendations have been solicited, but appear to be ignored."  

Taking on debt is a daily fact of life for most American households. The data show the highest-income households carry the largest amount of debt.

But debt levels among poor, near-poor and moderate-income households has ballooned over the past decade.

They tend to not want credit cards or cars. They are postponing marriage, frequently choosing to live at home with mom and dad.  They are grappling with a distressed economy and have high poverty rates to prove it.

They are the millennials, the 18-34 year olds of American society today.

New federal data shows Washington now holds more than $1.1 trillion in student loans taken out by nearly 40 million people.

And that dollar amount is up by more than 112% since 2007.

But should student debt get blamed for a wide range of economic troubles?

Beth Akers says maybe not. Akers is a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy.

In her article, Akers says there are a lot of narratives about how student loan debt is potentially creating a huge drag on economy through reduced consumption, depressed home ownership, and lower rates of entrepreneurship. But she says it's hard to back up that blame.