Student loan debt isn’t so bad. Unless you like being able to pay rent, eat food, and splurge on the occasional six-pack of tank tops at Walmart.
Underemployed college graduates, bogged down by student debt, have become a huge drag on America’s economic recovery.
So who’s going to pay for your education? The government?
Sorry, they’re kind of stretched thin with important things that keep freedom ringing, like missiles, tanks, and more missiles.
Here’s where your college money has been going:
1. F-35 Fighter Jet
Credit: Rex Features via AP Images
Known as the Joint Strike Fighter, it is the most expensive program in U.S. military history, with a price tag of $391 billion. Adding insult to fiscal injury, the jet has been plagued with problems, and didn’t follow quality management practices, according to a report by the Pentagon’s internal watchdog.
Shockingly, $391 billion would pay off every student loan for every single American under 30, and leave them with about $5,000 each to blow at the afterparty.
2. Javelin Missile
Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Linnett, Defence Procurement Agency
If you haven’t seen it in action, it’s pretty fantastic. In short, it’s a self-guided missile with a maximum range of nearly three miles. The Javelin can annihilate almost anything, including tanks, helicopters, and the entire floor of your apartment building. They also cost $260,246 a pop.
For the second time in four months, the Department of Defense ordered 260 of them for nearly $68 million. With an average cost of $14,576 a year at a four-year public institution, that would put about 1,200 kids through college.
3. MQ-1 Predator/Gray Eagle Drone
Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File
This unmanned aircraft is part of America’s drone fleet that has killed more than 450 civilians abroad, according to a report by the United Nations.
For FY 2014, the U.S. Air Force will pick up 29 of them for a total cost of over $1 billion. Attending Harvard for your undergrad would set you back $57,950 for tuition and expenses. That means about 4,300 students would graduate debt-free with next year’s drone money.
4. Adaptiv Active Camouflage
Cost: not clear (Credit: BAE Systems)
According to their website, BAE Systems, which enjoys a variety of contracts with the U.S. military, has developed camouflage that makes a vehicle invisible to thermal imaging systems — what non-military folks call night vision. That’s not all, either. You can make it look like a car if you want.
Unfortunately, the camouflage is still in the development state, and putting a price on it is difficult. But hey, if you’re a student at UC Davis that has seen $65 million cut from your Environmental Protection Agency grant, the Department of Defense spent that on helmets in September.
See the tank? That’s right, you don’t.
5. AH-64 Apache Helicopter
Credit: John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images
An oldie but a goodie, the Apache attack helicopter has been around for more than 25 years. Arguably one of the most effective killing machines of our time (and flown by the unbearably dashing Prince Harry) – the Department of Defense will procure 42 Apaches in 2014, forking out $884 million.
Sadly, the money spent on Apaches wouldn’t put much of a dent in the roughly $1.1 trillion in outstanding student debt. And they sure are fun.