Reviews | The student debt cancellation debate

For the editor:

Regarding “Students Deserve a Loan Bailout,” by Charlie Eaton, Amber Villalobos, and Frederick Wherry (guest op-ed, May 18):

Why should I pay your student loans? Will you pay my mortgage? If we really want to wipe out the debt, give tax amnesty to anyone who owes more than $10,000. I would vote for that!

We saved up and paid for our son to go to a state college, and he graduated debt-free. Tuition was about one-eighth of the tuition at the large private university where I was teaching. And he received an excellent education and was recruited for a good job. I took some of the best classes I’ve ever had at a virtually free community college.

Why should I now pay for people who knew full well that they were sinking into avoidable debt? I know it’s politically useful to tell millions of people that you’re going to cancel their debt, but that’s not fair.

Scott Hartman
San Jose, California.

For the editor:

Re “Student debt is crippling. Canceling It Is Still Bad Policy” (editorial, May 15):

The reasoning behind targeted rather than widespread student debt cancellation, reasonable as it may seem, is flawed in two fundamental ways.

First, it fails to recognize what should be a fundamental characteristic of a democratic society. Education, from pre-school to post-secondary, should be considered a fundamental right. As such, it should be provided by our government and not dependent on family or personal income.

This failure leads to the second political flaw that creates resentment and division. Of course, helping those most in need seems reasonable at first. Borrowers with incomes of $100,000 have less difficulty than those earning $35,000. However, this does not mean that high earners do not consider themselves unduly burdened, not only by debt, but also by high interest rates. This leads to “Hey and me?” resentment.

The “you can’t help everyone, so help a few” rationale has been a failed political strategy for Democrats for decades. This is not the recipe for a healthy democracy committed to fairness and fundamental rights.

Arthur H. Camins
Beacon, NY

For the editor:

Your editorial against universal student debt cancellation raises several excellent points. I would add to this that student loans should be seen as an investment in a student’s future. Student loans cause financial hardship for the borrower when this investment does not pay off. Sometimes this happens when students borrow to start a program but later drop out, leaving them in debt but without a degree. Other times, students graduate with credentials that don’t live up to their promised value in the job market.

The federal government can address these issues by reviewing the results of the programs to which it provides student loans. Colleges that perform poorly should be penalized and sometimes kicked out of the loan program.

The “paid employment” rule proposed by the Biden administration is a step in the right direction, but it exempts degree programs at public and private nonprofit colleges. To solve the student loan crisis, Congress must act to hold all institutions accountable for the financial value of their degrees.

Preston Cooper
Washington
The author is a researcher at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunities.

For the editor:

I agree that canceling student debt — attractive as that sounds — is not the way to fix inequality. It’s a short-term fix with a whopping $321 billion price tag.

That money could be better spent supporting vocational training programs in high schools that prepare students for lucrative jobs and allow them to choose an alternative path right out of high school rather than college+diploma+debt.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 62% of high school students go to college, and of those who do, about 40% drop out. So why are we encouraging students to pursue a college education as if it’s the only way to personal and financial success?

Most high schools have a curriculum that prepares students for one path: college. To make things truly fair, we need to create more choice in high schools so there’s another plan besides college…and debt.

Deirdre Higgins
Los Angeles
The writer has taught at the secondary and college level.

For the editor:

The Times editorial board has identified several major issues blocking any full forgiveness of student debt. As a retired educator and father of four children, all of whom used student loans to pay for college, I agree that Pell grants should be doubled, if not tripled.

I also believe that our state and federal governments should not be in the business of usury. Student loans should be interest free. Additionally, those who enter the civil service after graduation should see part of their student loan forgiven.

In 1968 I received a National Defense student loan, and during my early years as a public school teacher in low-income communities, each year the principal of my loan was reduced by 10 %.

Complete cancellation of student loan debt would be a financial mess and would also send the wrong message about financial responsibility. But there are things Congress and the president can do to soften the harshness of the student debt crush.

Fred Woody
Austin, TX

For the editor:

There is another aspect of the student debt problem that is not being addressed by government or colleges and universities. Colleges of higher learning suffer from bloat: too many administrators and their staff (eliminating unnecessary and unread reports) and underutilized faculty. Many professors earn huge salaries for teaching a few classes.

If colleges and universities did what private sector companies do – review employee productivity and drop “product lines” (courses) that are unprofitable – students would get more education for less money. , which would result in less debt.

Charles H. Gessner
Marblehead, Mass.

For the editor:

I can’t understand why the IRS allows a parent or grandparent, or anyone, to only pay a maximum of $15,000 a year for someone’s loan without incurring a penalty. gift tax. If the US government was serious about collecting more money from student loans, it would waive gift taxes and allow people to donate any amount for those debts.

Juan Gardea
South Bend, Ind.

For the editor:

Regarding “Yes, we should cancel student debt, but only for some”, by David Brooks (column, May 6):

Please! Stop talking about canceling student debt. Previously, students unable to repay their debts could discharge them in the event of bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was compromised and limited in a way that fueled the explosion of student debt.

As Mr. Brooks observed in his thoughtful column, debt cancellation can send dire cultural signals and trigger a righteous response.

Congress should make it easier to file for bankruptcy if you are unable to pay your student debts. It’s called a “fresh start” for a reason. Students who have received valuable diplomas will gladly pay their obligations; those who have not been able to complete their studies or who have obtained worthless degrees can get the relief they need.

Ward Greene
Portland, Oregon.
The author is a lawyer and a member of the American College of Bankruptcy.

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