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The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Money doesn’t grow on trees

President Biden’s student loan forgiveness policy is not the solution
Leah Fagin

The end of the school year means juniors like myself will soon need to consider tuition prices for higher education across the United States. This challenge of paying for higher education has been exacerbated by the spike in college tuition costs, seen in the doubling of average tuition prices at colleges and six-figure sticker prices at some elite schools, according to the College Board.

One of President Biden’s most prominent policy planks is to make college more affordable. His solution is to cancel student loans via various student loan forgiveness programs. While well-intentioned, President Biden’s broad loan forgiveness programs are flawed and have unintended consequences.

Most federal student loan programs are managed by the U.S. Department of Education and allow graduates who meet certain criteria to have their loans forgiven. The terms of the programs vary, but the idea is that those who continuously make payments can have loans forgiven by the U.S. government after a set amount of time.

One flaw with the student loan  forgiveness plans is that they  disproportionately benefit wealthier Americans and don’t help the lower-end Americans who these programs are directed towards. According to an opinion column in The Hill, “full cancelation would distribute $192 billion to the top 20 percent of earners, and only $29 billion to the bottom 20 percent — meaning that for each dollar given to the bottom fifth of earnings, more than $6 are given to the top fifth of earners.”

Furthermore, the Biden student loan forgiveness plans incentivize colleges and universities to increase their prices. If students know that their student loans will be canceled, they will be less concerned about taking out bigger loans. As a result, schools will charge more money because they will know that students will be able to pay through loans. Thus, this policy will ultimately backfire because students will have to borrow even more funds to pay for college than they did before.

An additional repercussion of Biden’s student loan forgiveness efforts is that they can undermine other federal service-oriented borrowing programs targeted toward national needs. The exception to this is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Plan (PSLF), which is a program that requires 10 years of service in a government institution or non-profit in exchange for loan forgiveness. One such program  that could be undermined is the United States military, which offers tuition assistance for college in return for service in  the military.

According to a Pew Research Survey, 75% of those who enlisted in the military said they did so to obtain the military’s various educational benefits, like tuition assistance for college. Given that the loan forgiveness plan would be an extremely appealing option for college students who could achieve benefits by simply waiting, it’s hard to think that many would opt for military service as a way to pay for schooling.

One solution President Biden could consider is taking funds going toward student loan forgiveness and putting them towards increasing the various existing federal tuition assistance programs including Pell Grants and service-oriented loan and scholarship programs, like the military and the National Service Health Corps, a program for those pursuing healthcare careers in which they receive either loan repayment or an educational scholarship in return for primary care service in an                                     underserved community.

Alternatively, the Biden administration could also ditch efforts to create more loan forgiveness programs and instead focus on improving the existing PSLF program, which is the only one of the loan forgiveness programs that actually requires a service commitment.

As high school students are facing the economic quagmire of college costs, the issue of rising costs and loan debt is extremely important. However, what’s even more important is that the solution we support to fix this crisis is one that won’t make the problem of rising college tuition worse than it already is.

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About the Contributor
Ari Kittrie
Ari Kittrie, Managing Editor, Web
Being a Reporter and Opinion Editor during the last few years, Ari is ready to take on the position of Managing Editor. His experience includes being an Election Judge for the Montgomery County Board of Elections and volunteering for various politicians from all levels of government. Additionally, Ari enjoys in his free time wrestling, volleyball, and sometimes cooking.  

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