I borrowed money to pay for my studies. Like 45 million other Americans who have done the same, I have student loan debt.
My generation was sold to a pipe dream about what a degree might mean for our future. I wanted this dream to come true so badly that I jumped at the chance to take out loans.
What I didn’t realize then was how the cost of higher education was skyrocketing — and that colleges were raising prices to take advantage of the federal government’s drive to help poor, low-income students. like me to cover school fees.
I remember talking to my college counselor about how she was paying $240 a year to attend one of the top universities in my home country. Since my advisor went to college, inflation has gone up 645%. Meanwhile, tuition fees at the university she attended rose by 11,820%.
If you ask previous generations how they paid for their education, they say things like “I worked part-time after school”. Yeah, I did that too. Do you know what that money was used for? Rent, gasoline and bills. My job at McDonald’s was barely enough to keep me afloat, let alone pay my tuition and other expenses.
It was either taking out student loans or dropping out of college. I chose not to give up.
I graduated and finally found a job in my field. But with the rising cost of housing and everything else, that loan debt, which is already inflated by soaring college fees, now seems suffocating. It keeps me from qualifying for a good mortgage and makes me wonder if I can afford to have kids.
My loan is a tiny fraction of the national student loan debt. The $1.7 trillion owed by student borrowers is a massive political issue affecting everything from housing to the job market to retirement savings and more.
This is why there is a growing movement asking the federal government to cancel some or all of this debt.
If the federal government canceled $50,000 in student loans, it would give new life to 36 million borrowers. It could allow them to buy a house, start a family or start a business.
I know it sounds like a drastic idea to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt. It’s not.
If you recall, former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party passed a $1.9 trillion tax cut in 2017 called “socialism for the rich.” This has led billionaires to pay a lower average tax rate than the working class for the first time in US history, and is directly responsible for corporate tax revenues plummeting to near record lows. .
This seems much more radical to me than helping ordinary people. Even canceling every penny of student debt would cost less than Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
President Biden has expressed interest in canceling some student loan debt, although he has indicated he cannot cancel more than $10,000.
I would welcome any amount being reversed on my loan. But I fear that if Biden only writes off $10,000, he would miss a huge opportunity to improve millions of lives and give the economy a desperately needed boost.
The precedent is there. The United States has a long history of economic bailouts dating back to 1792.
The benefits are there. Studies show that canceling student debt would create jobs, grow the economy, and have the added benefit of helping to reduce the wealth gap between races and genders.
And, most importantly, student debt cancellation enjoys broad public support, including among those without a college degree and without student debt, as well as among young people.
It’s time for the federal government to bail people out. It’s time to cancel student loans.
Robert P. Alvarez is a media relations associate at the Institute for Policy Studies.