• S. McKiernan

U.S. Students: Drowning in Debt

Under the Biden administration, about 10 billion dollars worth of student loan debt has been cancelled. This is the most any presidential term has eradicated; yet it still leaves the country's students with around 1.7 trillion dollars owed. The idea of completely cancelling student debt has been thrown around by the left for some years, as has free community college and lower college tuition. But this was limited to discussion only. Meanwhile, the United States has the most student loan debt in the world, as well as the highest tuition fees in our history and the second highest fees in the world after England. As of late, the state department has released little information about presidential authority on cancelling student loans. So, will Biden put in an executive order to help our struggling students? Or will he continue to cancel sums of it every year? Is this all to alleviate the global attention our nation has accrued? And will college goers be left to fend for themselves?


Bernie Sanders is a prominent advocate of student loan forgiveness, believing education is a right rather than a privilege. Sanders even proposed a bill pushing for free college paid by taxing Wallstreet. Some find the idea of this bill passing far fetched, considering Biden has the option to cancel student loan debt but does not. CNBC reported, “...although top Democrats argue that the president can cancel the debt through executive action, Biden has said little on the subject." They also cite experts who believe the odds that students will gets their balances reduced or eliminated have never been greater but, "“until legislation is signed into law, you can’t count on anything.”


While the left's stance on student loan forgiveness ranges from legitimate propositions to blind support and complacency, the right's stance is not much different. Being the more fiscally conscious party (that is, in terms of their own money), Forbes describes them as “rightly skeptical of mass student loan forgiveness, which would be an expensive and unfair transfer to mostly high-income college graduates. At the same time, Americans generally believe that something must be done about student debt...” On this, both sides can agree. Despite wanting something to get done, however, leftists like Bernie Sanders are the only ones taking initiative. Biden has been sitting on his decision since the beginning of his presidency.


As far as the U.S. students, their take is obvious: they don't want to be in debt for the rest of their lives. UB found that “57% of students who take on debt for college don’t graduate. The dropout rate for all students lands at 40%, meaning those who need loans drop out more often than their non-borrowing peers.” This study found that, if the cost of dropping out with debt and no job didn't outweigh the cost of dropping out without debt at all, more than 50% of students would drop out. And for those considering going to college, the price is a major deterrent: According to ECMC Group (a nonprofit helping student borrowers), high school students’ likelihood of attending a four-year school sank nearly 20% in less than a year — down to 53%, from 71%. Especially with the financial burden the pandemic has left, 4 year universities have become less and less accessible.


The expectations from students in terms of finances for college has become completely unreasonable, especially in our current economic climate. Rarely do the right and left agree, but they do on this: something must be done about the severe student debt problem we have in this country. We are still uncertain of how this problem will be solved. Nothing can be assumed for the time being. We’re still waiting on Biden’s plan.


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