As the American economy continues to slog through a tepid recovery from the collapse of 2008, it is becoming increasingly clear that America’s youth are the hardest hit in the remnants of the recession.  A new PEW research poll reveals that 40% of Americans acknowledge it is our young people who are bearing the brunt of our economic failings.  They are, after all, going to be around the longest to deal with the wake of the collapse.

Matt Segal joined the program yesterday to discuss the ever-growing level of student loan debt that our young generation is being saddled with, often with little to nothing to show for the massive amount of capital that is being invested in public and private institutions of higher learning.  Segal highlighted a “control of the cost of higher education from continually inflating” as one of the best chances for fixing this enormous debt problem.  Watch the full video here:

“You have a lot of people who need to go college.  More people are enrolling.  Public and private universities keeping their costs in check.  Unlike ever before, unless you have a college degree…we have sold that narrative,” Segal continued.

Which touches on one of the biggest problems: a lack of accountability for return on investment.  We have an increasing number of youth entering institutoins of higher education because we have bought into the narrative that a higher education degree is the only viable path to sustained employment.  However, there is little to no accountability for how these institutions of learning are spending the money we are sending to them.  So, as costs continue to explode and the students entering shoulder the brunt of these rising costs, we have no recourse for understanding where that money is going.

“We have talked about for-profit colleges.  They hire lobbyists in Washington.  We all want this federal money with no strings attached.  None,” Segal explained.  “And meanwhile, you can’t hold us accountable to keep tuition in check.”

So whether the money is going to invest in a new football stadium or housing complex, we have no means of checking and making sure the money is being invested appropriately.  Institutions of higher education use tuition money to hire lobbyists to fight for their best interest at the expense of the students they are meant to be protecting and educating.  While all of this is happening we see a large number of America’s youth falling further and further into debt with little hope of escaping.

Our politicians need to rise up in defense of the students that are being saddled with these obscene levels of debt.  President Obama, in a speech Monday, decried the continued inflation of loans and the doubling of interest rates, advocating for accountability in the rising costs or threatening that no more federal money could be coming.

Whether or not the president is all-talk will soon be seen.  In the meantime, we must start to challenge the status quo and not allow this system of exploitation and extraction to continue.  America’s youth is being left behind, drowning in a sea of exploding debt and a jobless landscape as they cross the stage on graduation day.

Matthew Segal is co-founder and President of OUR TIME and a contributor on Huffington Post.