Read the opposing viewpoint – Opinion: Forgive student loan debt
College is expensive.
There is no denying this fact. With books, tuition, living expenses and travel, among other costs associated with obtaining a degree, many college students find that they are accruing a substantial amount of debt — debt which they are expected to repay with interest post-graduation.
However, according to Resolution 365 from the House of Representatives from July 2011, a study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that only 56 percent of 2010 graduates were successful in finding a job post-graduation.
Because of the financial burden of student debt and the inability for many to repay it, some argue that students should be freed of their college debt through student loan forgiveness programs.
But how much debt do college students really have?
According to College Board, an organization that strives to benefit education through a variety of services, 28 percent of students attend four-year, private, non-profit institutions of higher education that charge approximately $36,000 per year for tuition and fees.
However, nearly half of all college students — 44 percent in 2011-12 — attend four-year institutions that claim to cost less than $9,000 each year for tuition and fees.
Granted, these numbers do not include some of the other expenses such as room and board and books, but the numbers seems fairly manageable considering that in 2010-11, about $178 billion was awarded in financial aid for undergraduate students.
According to Resolution 365, the study found on average students had only $23,000 worth of student loan debt in 2011.
This is not an unreasonable amount of debt. While the job market has been lacking, on average, according to the 2010 Current Population Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, college graduates earned about $47,000 per year in 2009. High school graduates, according to the same survey, earned only about $27,000 on average in 2009. This difference nearly accounts for repayment of the average student loan debt in one year.
Still, some argue that students would best be served by forgiving their debt—leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.
But what supporters of these debt forgiveness plans are forgetting is that these students will be entering the workforce and will be paying these taxes as well. That being said, is this debt really being forgiven? No. Rather, the debt is being shifted.
College students will still end up paying, but instead of paying off loans, they will be paying additional taxes. And after their loans are technically “forgiven” and paid off, they will continue to pay taxes to help all the other students who have debt from college. In the long term, they could be paying more in taxes than their loan debt would have cost them in the first place.
Regardless of the tax implications of student loan forgiveness, students should be responsible enough to pay it off themselves. College students know what they are up against as colleges make tuition and fee costs very apparent. Students don’t go into college blind.
In addition to being upfront about the costs, most colleges offer financial aid representatives available to answer questions regarding the cost of attendance, as well as to assist with repayment options.
College students assume the risk of financial debt when entering college. They know how much they are getting themselves into and it is their responsibility to pay it back.
Some argue that students should be encouraged to seek higher education and should not be dissuaded by the high costs associated with it. Forgiving student debt is not the answer to this problem.
Forgiving student debt does not fix the real problem, but rather slaps a Band-Aid on it and disregards the real issue at hand. College is too expensive.
If there is a hole in your gas tank, you wouldn’t keep putting gas into your car to solve the problem. You would fix the hole.
The increasing cost of college is the hole in the gas tank. Debt forgiveness is pouring more gas into the tank, instead of fixing the hole.
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