Cancellation of student debt is a document for rich families
Incoming rich child privilege. Once again, the prospect of student debt cancellation is on the policy table. Unfortunately, the main beneficiaries would be those who need it the least.
Americans have about $ 1.5 trillion student debt, and these loans weigh heavily on the backs of those who have them. For some, the weight has been relatively light and the cost of their college education can be managed by family funds or their own high-level employment. For others, the burden has been much heavier, and the debt persists as an illness that may never be cured.
As his inauguration draws near, Joe Biden says he will start a program which remits $ 10,000 in debt to undergraduate and graduate students in return for each year of community service, capped at five years.
Others grow even more. Some senators urge Biden to To cancel $ 50,000 in student loan debt per person through executive action.
However, it is not just the poor who take out loans. Students from families earn over $ 114,000 per year borrow at the same rate as the lowest-income students – and they take out loans almost twice as much. Students with graduate degrees – lawyers, doctors and others – represent 40% of all student debt.
And the top 25% of households hold nearly half of student debt, according to the Urban Institute. The forgiveness of the students would be in large part a help to the better-off.
Sacrifices and smart choices have paid off
As an Appalachian from one of the poorest parts of the country, that doesn’t suit me, even though I have very little student debt.
I graduated from college in 2018. It’s a sentence my dad certainly assumed I would never write. Growing up as a hill kid with little career ambition, I even surprised myself. And when I finished high school in 2014, no one in my family was particularly keen on me attending a four-year institution.
In retrospect, I understand why this was the case. My sisters, 8 and 10 years older than me, have earned a few degrees in history and kinesiology, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in debt. They had taken their studies seriously, but by the time the train to college stopped for me, their careers had taken them into entirely different fields in which their four years were unnecessary. When it was my turn, dad made it clear: community college or nothing.
I fought him, of course. Teens are endlessly wowed by the tale they sell of “college experience”: uninhibited, unattended social life in an intellectual haven that will deliver you from the mundane clutches of your hometown – and a price that can be. avoided until you are done with it all and work in your first lucrative job. Who can say no?
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Well, I did. At least for a while. At the behest of my disgruntled father and in the absence of a good argument for any other option, I went to community college a hop and a jump on my way to northeast Tennessee. I’ve always worked a part-time job or two to save money for what my parents promised me if I was willing to wait: the last two years of paid college. I spent my first and second years flying through my classes, selling KJV Bibles, and cleaning the floors of the downtown Jewish bagel store while supplementing my education with my own reading.
Two years later, I went to college at a private Christian school in Tennessee. My financially struggling parents kept their promise and paid my tuition fees. I paid most of my other fees and expenses by working at a local cafe and in our school newspaper. But, for me, university at that point was just an attempt to see it through, because I had decided to become a journalist anyway – a profession best taught by experience. , as most journalists will tell you.
I graduated with a small student loan, an insignificant fraction of the loans my sisters had taken years before. And in the end, my job as an opinion writer at Young Voices, a Washington, DC-based comment store, was one that I got solely on the basis of my journalism experience with summer internships. , not my degree – so my boss tells me.
My story is not unique and obviously some jobs require a degree. Even so, the prospect of substantial student debt relief does a disservice to Americans who saw the credential myth as the only way to achieve economic success. While the average college graduate earns the average high school graduate only, there is really substantial overlap, and many Americans with less formal education earn college graduates.
Almost a third of Americans, 28% of the population aged 25 and over, have only completed high school, according to the US Census Bureau. How many of them bought a truck and started a business instead of spending that money on something they didn’t need?
Many of us didn’t need a degree from a prestigious university to get to where we are, and we paid for what we learned. I know a number of children in the Appalachians who have done the same.
Students like me could be relieved of our own small debts. But all of us, including my parents, will pay the heavy debt of those who walk the hallowed halls of the Ivy League. Those who have decided to sign 10 years of their future paychecks on the dotted line at the loan office should not get the most reprieve just because they spent the most.
If anyone gets my help, they should be the ones who really need it. Can I suggest people like the ones here in the hills of Tennessee?