Editor’s note: This week’s Future View asks whether President Biden should make student debt relief a priority. Next we’ll ask: What do you think of companies’ embrace of Pride Month? Students can click here to submit opinions of fewer than 250 words before June 15. The best responses will be published that night.
Canceling student loan debt is a short-term solution that will only encourage universities to raise tuition. They won’t lose applicants over cost increases. Parents who can’t pay will expect the feds to step in. As a result, the next generation of students will be met with the same or worse debt problems, causing another student-loan cancellation initiative. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, every dollar in subsidized loans results in a 60-cent increase in the sticker price of college tuition.
To break this vicious circle, the government needs to lower tuition costs by getting out of the credit market for student loans and developing a more cost-effective way for all Americans, regardless of income, to attend college. The government could promote community colleges and trade schools over the traditional university experience, for example. Then the discussion can begin on how to deal with existing student debt.
—Alex Blecker, Oglethorpe University, economics and politics
Biden Abandons Young Voters
President Biden has consistently demonstrated that the voters who put him into office aren’t his priority. Many young voters assumed that student-debt relief would be a given in a Democratic administration. Now that he’s president, Mr. Biden has left those burdened by student debt hanging.
In the midst of a pandemic, many students didn’t even receive the first two stimulus checks—which were meager anyway—and faced an ever thinner job market as they and their parents tried to make ends meet. Debt relief was more vital than ever, but it’s evident this president doesn’t care.
The Democratic Party can’t rely on us to stay loyal. New progressive coalitions are forming. Mr. Biden should reconsider keeping his promises or be prepared for a party realignment and a much less welcoming political climate in the coming years.
—Induja Kumar, Vanderbilt University, political science and philosophy
Debt Relief Relieves Little Debt
Politicians and activists promoting student debt relief ignore many of the financial burdens families take on so they can afford college. Families often take out loans for housing, transportation and living expenses so they can free up money to pay for tuition. Households also forgo consumption and pour their money into savings in the hopes of avoiding debt. Why only reward those who took out student loans to pay for education?
—Thomas Brodey, Amherst College, history
Biden Must Have Checked the Price Tag
It isn’t difficult to understand why Mr. Biden, an ostensible fiscal moderate, opposes even the most modest student debt cancellation proposals: They are expensive. A report published in February by the Brookings Institution found that canceling all student debt would cost more than the government has spent on food stamps for the past 20 years. Even a watered-down proposal to forgive $10,000 would cost more than we have spent on the free school breakfast and lunch program since 2000. Forget bipartisan support from the right. Will moderate Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema even go for this?
Student debt is certainly a problem. Colleges are practically extorting the lower and middle classes to pay exorbitant tuition. Targeted policies such as increasing funding for Pell grants would help reduce the number of low-income students who have to take on debt to attend college—and stand a chance of passing. Helping alleviate student debt is important, but let’s be smart about it.
—Ethan Moon, Dartmouth College, economics and music
Student loans seem to be the only debt you can take on without giving real assurances that you can pay it back. When you obtain a car loan, the lender looks at your earnings to ensure payment is possible. Student loans for a four-year degree can run well over $100,000.
Why do discussions of student debt never address the relationship between the amount of the loan and the usefulness of the degree? I’m all for students pursuing their passions, but at some point you have to consider a major’s return on investment. If the Biden administration wants to help, it should focus more on the future financial health of students by encouraging colleges to adopt things like financial planning courses for freshman or regular discussions between students and financial aid advisers.
—Andrew Hipple, Pennsylvania State University, accounting and psychology
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