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Well, the housing bubble was leverage based and the higher education one is less so, especially since higher education loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy (pretty much only in death, right?).

And as you note an education is not terribly fungible.

I agree with your last point: when, how and the shape of the fallout is quite unclear. We can perhaps see some clues at the edges, as some of the more marginal institutions go out of business, e.g. Antioch College (surprise; you might liken it and its sector to the sub-prime and Alt-A mortgage sectors).

But it's still the case that a 4 year Bachelor's degree has replaced the high school diploma as a proxy for [whatever] and until that changes we're more likely to see various sorts of shifting instead of across the board collapse.

Camille Paglia (who's always worth listening to, says this "ultra right wing conservative" :-) suggests we make a major shift to the trades: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1649709, e.g.: "The pressuring of middle-class young people into officebound, paper-pushing jobs is cruelly shortsighted."

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