The push and pull policies of student loan debt

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There’s an ouch factor in this so-called “feel-good” idea.

Despite his good intentions, President Biden is not expected to write off student loan debt. Just because an idea is popular or easy compared to a legislative solution does not mean that it is justifiable. The tax code already does a disastrous job of generating fair tax levies. Now, Biden is eyeing a huge freebie for many Americans, with barely a blink of an eye to correlating that largesse with need or merit.

What about the kid who skipped college to take a job to help the family make ends meet? What about students who have taken out loans from non-federal entities or from family members? What about the students who worked nights, weekends, and summers to fund a debt-free college education?

Will a future surgeon from a wealthy family but with a modest intern salary enjoy the same benefits as a history student turned professor?

How will today’s future students plan for the financing of their university? Should they play it safe? Or bet with a more expensive, banking education that loan forgiveness will become a precedent that will eventually bail them out?

Student loan debt forgiveness may be a “nice” concept, but it is full of complexities that make it extremely difficult to implement without creating massive and arbitrary injustices.

Alain Mandel

Framingham

Personal responsibility should be the lesson here

How would you feel if you had sacrificed and saved to pay off your student loan only to find that Washington’s elected officials could act to cancel most college loan debt? You might be a little upset. You might think it’s just a way to buy votes to revive dwindling poll numbers as we get closer to the midterms.

The harsh truth is that when you take out a loan, you know full well that it is borrowed money. Most lenders are non-predatory and loan terms are fully disclosed. You borrow to get a head start on your future and promise to pay it back later, with interest.

For the millions of taxpayers who essentially end up being the co-signers of these unsecured loans, making them foot the bill is unconscionable. Also, as a society, we should not give our limited resources to those who have not yet learned to make their own way. Taking personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions is a lesson that must be learned early in life.

Scott Thompson

Bloomington, Ind.

Nice change of pace with tax cuts favoring the rich

Jeff Jacoby worries that canceling student loan debt would “make things worse,” but I think he’s got the causality backwards (“Cancelling Student Debt Will Make Things Worse,” Ideas, 1st may).

I realize that canceling student debt is not the most economically sound policy. But after a massive corporate tax cut that funded $92 billion in share buybacks in 2018 aloneI find myself sympathetic to the cancellation of student loans because of my cynicism.

Student loan forgiveness seems like a rare opportunity to help less wealthy people rather than the usual process of helping the wealthy get richer.

Elliott McNamee

Roslindale

Do not stick taxpayers with the bill

Jeff Jacoby’s take on tuition cancellation is spot on (“Cancelling student debt will make things worse”). I really wish the media would stop telling everyone that “the government” is going to take care of their debts. First and foremost, taxpayers will foot the bill. Second, why should we be responsible for taking responsibility for loans that someone else has taken?

What if Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren repaid my debt? I am retired and on a fixed income.

All student loan forgiveness would produce is higher tuition and higher salaries for some pampered professors.

Arvin Cook

Hudson

Undergraduate debt should be the focus

On “Student Loan Forgiveness is a Smart Decision – and the Right Thing to Do” by Renée Graham and “Cancelling Student Debt Will Make Things Worse” by Jeff Jacoby: The problem isn’t forgiving student loans. This is how to deal with undergraduate student debt.

Those who borrow for higher education already have the advantage of having an undergraduate degree; they are likely to do better than those without a college degree. Most who borrow to pay for post-secondary education—a bachelor’s or associate’s degree or vocational training—need to borrow if they are to have any hope of earning a middle-class income in today’s labor markets. ‘today.

Helping students who borrow to further their education is best targeted at those borrowing for undergraduate studies, not those who have already had a college education.

Jane O’Neil

charlestown

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