Why the student debt crisis may hit home for Rep. Ellison

When Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison spoke to a group of University of Minnesota students yesterday, he compared his son’s situation with the one he faced when he got out of law school.

Ellison said he himself bought his first home at 26.

And his son?

“He can’t — he lives at my home. (Laughter) Right? He can’t imagine going to buy a house. He can’t imagine going to finance a car. I think that’s a bad idea anyway, but he can’t even think about it.  … I was able to have him, and some of you guys are going to want to have kids and stuff by the time you start being 27-28-29-30. If (my son) had a partner who he wanted to start a family with, I don’t know what they would do. They’d live with me. We are doing something very damaging to our young people.”

Ellison said afterward his son got a bachelor’s degree political science and Chinese from Drake University and spent a year in China.

Ellison said he took out an $11,000 loan for his son’s education, and his son owes another $35,000 or so. He told me:

“He’d like to go to law school one day — but he’s worried about the expense of that. And I think he’s deferring that decision, because he wants to chop the debt down that before he goes.”

Ellison said his son’s situation makes the student-debt issue “real” for him.