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Education and housing are inextricably intertwined in both the American imagination and our economy — yet there has been very little talk about how the student debt crisis and the housing crisis relate to each other in terms of both long-term economic cycles and our changing American identity. As evidenced by the overblown debate over interest rates taking place in Congress, we remain focused on minor details, and have yet to examine the big picture of what these twin crises portend.

With over $1 trillion amassed in student debt, and 41% of the class of 2005 delinquent or in default, our attention has remained stubbornly fixed on interest rate changes that would only amount to $9 a month in savings, for a handful of borrowers, while a crisis of inequality and poverty develops unchecked by public outrage and resistance. If we look at the cyclical and generational relationship between education debt and the housing market, however, we can see how the failure to treat the real crisis now will produce enormous inequality as millions of Americans continue to fall out of the middle class.

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