Did I come in late on the student loan-default discussion? Did I miss the part where everyone said: "Make the students pay"?

The latest solution is an interesting one: penalize the schools. That seems to be somewhat comparable to going after the real estate agent who sold me my house if I fail to make my mortgage payments. The grim reality is that if you incur a debt, you have to pay it back. If you don't, bad things happen. The fact that you don't happen to have enough money right now to make those payments will not impress the mortgage company or Eddie the loan shark.

We have a remarkable institution in this country called the credit bureau. It knows that I was late making a $15 payment to Sears back in February of 1984. It tells the mortgage company, and the mortgage company demands an explanation in writing before it will refinance my home. It seems logical that banks, credit card companies and other organizations that extend credit would like to know about people who walked away from student loans.

When a student defaults on a loan, why is that not made part of his credit record? If a credit record does not yet exist, the default should become the beginning of one. If someone cannot make relatively low payments at a low interest rate on an outstanding educational loan, he is clearly not a good credit risk.

Why not approach the problem with the obvious solution? Hold the students responsible for their debts. Make the students pay.

KATHIE HEPLER Washington

The Post's Nov. 9 article "Student Loan Crackdown May Have Victims as Well as Villains" briefly mentioned the Internal Revenue Service's program of withholding income tax refunds from those individuals who have defaulted on their student loans. This has been one of the government's most successful tools for collecting delinquent debts due the Education Department and eight other federal agencies. Since being authorized as a two-year pilot program, it has brought in almost $450 million (as of July 15), according to Treasury Department officials.

Unfortunately, this pilot program expires at the end of this year and has not been extended by Congress. At a time when White House and congressional negotiators are trying to reduce the deficit, here is a painless way to do so -- a way that we cannot afford to overlook. I hope that any deficit-reduction package that is sent to Congress will include this vital, cost-effective program.

JOHN R. KASICH U.S. Representative (R-Ohio) Washington