Student debt relief plan lacks permanent solutions, accountability

Gwen Ueding | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

Student loan forgiveness is a concept that has been thrown around for the better part of a decade. To the delight of student borrowers everywhere, a plan to forgive up to $20,000 of their student loans has finally been announced. But this plan may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

In addition to student loan forgiveness not being applicable to everyone, this plan leaves a significant portion of the country with the short end of the stick. According to the Education Data Initiative, on average, it takes up to 20 years to pay off student loans. For every person who has their financial situation saved thanks to student loan forgiveness, there is someone who just paid off their student loans and is still struggling to get by despite doing all the “right” things.

Sure, this situation can be written off as a stroke of bad luck. While that may be true, it is also essentially the government not holding its citizens financially accountable. This is not to say everyone who takes out student loans is irresponsible. Coming from someone who is currently taking out student loans to finish their school, student loans can be a necessary evil. In fact, taking out student loans in order to invest in yourself can be one of the most responsible ways to better your future. Even with that in mind, it’s hard not to feel that the idea of student loan forgiveness doesn’t cater more to those who haven’t managed their debt.

As mentioned before, sometimes student loans are inevitable, and debt happens. College is expensive, and some people are fortunate enough to be able to pay for it out of pocket. With this in mind, there is no shortage of other ways to relieve some of the expenses that come with attending college.

There need to be larger steps taken in order to offset the cost of college and avoid student debt relief overall. For example, financial planning regarding college should be taught at an early age and could make a huge difference in the overwhelming need for student debt relief.

Obviously, there are some more traditional solutions, such as working for scholarships, attending a state university or even going to a community college. As helpful as some of those solutions can be, they all still play into the larger problem at hand: Not everyone needs to attend a four-year university.

We live in a day and age where it seems like college is the rule rather than the exception. While everyone who wants an education deserves the opportunity to pursue one, not every vocation should require a four-year degree. Trade schools exist for a reason, and it seems that as a society, we’ve forgotten the merits of learning a trade, as well as the fact that a four-year degree should not be necessary for every job.

While student loan forgiveness only benefits some, it impacts everyone. As far as we know, money doesn’t grow on trees. While we have yet to get a true estimate of cost from the federal government, according to early projections from the Wharton Budget Model, student loan forgiveness could cost as much as $519 billion. Yes, that is billion, with a B. This money doesn’t appear out of thin air. In addition to increasing payments for many taxpayers — a portion of whom didn’t even attend college — the direction of these funds toward student loan forgiveness could keep the government from spending money in other places.

Student loan forgiveness sounds great in theory. While those of us who qualify for forgiveness are likely ecstatic about the idea of having less debt to pay, everything comes at a cost. Sometimes, that cost causes more harm than good.