Read the opposing viewpoint – Opinion: Debt forgiveness not the answer for students
College students may be the next bubble speeding towards a sharp point.
Last year, our peers borrowed more than $100 billion to finance their education. Now, the total amount of outstanding student loan debt hovers precariously at the $1 trillion mark. Meanwhile, the proportion of borrowers in default jumped to 8.8% in 2009.
Something, or someone, has to give. The question is, whom?
I’m here to propose something radical. It’s time for a national program of student loan debt forgiveness.
The level of student debt has grown to such a dangerous, crushing level that in order to avert a crisis in which we could see a lost generation of college graduates enslaved to debt, the Federal Government must take a drastic step to get students and graduates out of the red.
The typical conservative response to this proposal is easy to predict. “The students are assuming the risks, they must pay.”
That statement is true, in a way. College students are assuming the risks, often attending schools with tuition prices far beyond their means. On top of that, they may major in an impractical field with dim job prospects, requiring them to seek post-graduate education and take on even more debt.
However, is the blame to be placed on college students or on a system of out of control costs and failed promises that has left students little alternative?
The issue of student loan debt is not one-dimensional. There are a myriad of factors that have led to that $1 trillion dollar total.
College students were long promised, if they’re not still being promised today, that taking on large amounts of debt will pay off after graduation. That is no longer a guarantee. With post-graduate unemployment higher than the national average and once-profitable fields like law over-saturated, many students immediately find themselves in a bind after they pick up their diplomas.
The decision to go into debt for an education is not an easy one. But the economic reality of higher education today leaves most students little choice. Even public universities, once an affordable alternative to prestigious private schools, have seen tuition rates rise at a gross level. I know from experience that even a “full scholarship” does not cover the hidden fees state universities throw at their students.
On top of all this, a quick glance at the inequality of wealth in the country as a whole should make it obvious why so many students have put themselves in debt. They have no other choice. The average American student cannot afford a college education without student loans.
In Dante’s Inferno, an entire circle of hell is reserved for those who profited from the sin of usury. For much of Western history, making money with money was one of the greatest crimes. Today, it is the basis of our economy.
It should not be the basis of our higher education system. We need a system that helps graduates flourish, not drown in an ocean of debt.
Our policymakers can take a step in that direction by ordering an immediate moratorium on student loan payments with the intention of eventually forgiving these debts.
How can we afford such a drastic measure, you ask? Thousands of Occupiers across the country have a fairly simple idea: Tax the 1%.
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