It appears more likely now that some sort of college student loan forgiveness may be looming for millions of borrowers in this country. President Joe Biden is said to be weighing options that will likely not go as far as some progressives are pushing and will, certainly, go too far for conservatives who say there should be no forgiveness at all.

It’s a touchy political issue — of course, what isn’t these days? — that will certainly have financial ramifications on a lot of people.

However, assuming something is done, the biggest mistake is to think of this issue only in the past tense. Any planning here must also look ahead to make a college education affordable going forward.

The cost of higher education in this country has screamed into the stratosphere. A study conducted by College Board Research found that the average annual cost (which includes such things as housing and transportation expenses and school supplies, not just tuition and fees) for an in-state student at a public college in 2021-22 was $27,330, while the average cost for an out-of-state student was $44,150. For a private college, the average one-year cost was $54,800. (The average estimated prices for just tuition and fees is $10,740 for public, in-state students; $27,560 for public, out-of-state students; and $38,070 at private institutions.)

According to My eLearning World, the average cost of a college education in the U.S. has risen 4.6 times the rate of inflation over the past 50 years. It’s estimated that, if college costs had risen consistently with inflation over the past half-century, a student would be paying approximately $10,000 per year (in-state) to attend a public university and $20,000 a year to attend a private university.

The price of a college education has not only escalated dramatically, but it’s also putting such an education out of reach for an increasing number of Americans. This would be disastrous for the country in the long term.

Some Democrats have called for the forgiveness of $50,000 of student loan debt per person, a move that would cost more than $900 billion and forgive the full balance for more than 79% of the 37.9 million federal borrowers, according to the New York Federal Reserve.

The president reportedly seems reticent on this expansive step but appears more open to, say, setting a household income limit of $75,000, which would lower the total cost to about $507 billion while forgiving a maximum of $10,000 per borrower.

Republicans are attacking the idea as an election-year ploy, with Sen. Mitt Romney tweeting last week. “Other bribe suggestions: Forgive auto loans? Forgive credit card debt? Forgive mortgages? And put a wealth tax on the super-rich to pay for it all. What could possibly go wrong?”

This line of political attack (which, notably, was a coordinated talking point among several Republicans last week) represents an effort to gloss over the issue and place all debt in the same basket, building a case to do nothing.

Something with income limits would likely be the most prudent approach, or there could be a move to cap interest payments, which often tend to do very little to lower the principal of the loan.

The challenge — and the imperative need — is to also address the college cost issue for future students. Prohibitive education costs will do immense damage to this nation’s ability to produce scientists, doctors, educators, engineers and so much more unless costs to obtain such training are reined in at saner levels.

While current talk appears to deal with debt already on the books, the dark prospect on the horizon cannot and must not be ignored, or else the cycle will continue.

kmh

(7) comments

YanktonCitizen2

Thoughtfully written.

VoiceforAll

I have to agree on one point, college needs to become more affordable for students and families, but I cannot agree that all this debt needs to become the burden of every tax paying American. I don't agree with Mitt Romney often but he is exactly right, why stop at student debt, all these other things he points out are financial burdens as well on families. And how do you differentiate between the kids that chose a 2 year college at a lot lesser cost than those that chose a state school that costs $60,000 a year, why would any of these kids pick a cheaper college, why not go to the most expensive one you can? Why would colleges lower their costs or keep them in check if they know the tax payers are going to be paying the costs? What about the kids that say hey, I can go to college, just get by passing my classes and spend 4 years partying it up and having a good time for four years and it all gets paid for, sounds like an awesome deal for them. Or something the Biden administration would do is say that if you are a republican or if you live in a republican ran state you don't qualify, but if you are a person that identifies as a binary or a cat or whatever, then you get 100% tuition paid, it is easy to see Biden doing this. Make college more affordable, keep your big government out of people's lives, I know, I know, democrats want to be in everything everyone does, but that is not what governments are for, anything this government touches, especially now a days, turns into a disaster and this won't be any different.

Larry Skow

These colleges all have million in cash and assets stashed away. Make each college pay a certain percentage based off students graduated. That goes into fund to pay off student debt. After all that money came from fleecing the students. Plus, all student athletes that go to professional sports careers they pay a percentage of contract as well. There is your solution.

VoiceforAll

I spent some time this weekend looking on the government websites and for stories from the liberal media about where to find the forms for requesting reimbursement for the college tuition I paid for my oldest daughter to go to college several years ago. If everyone is good with paying for current college debt, and I have plenty of that for my kids still in college, then surely the government would be paying for my past college tuition that I paid as well, shouldn't be any difference, is there, it was a debt I incurred to put my kid through college, just like right now? Looking forward to getting about $60,000 back from the good old U.S. government real soon, I have receipts so I can prove what I paid. Sorry hard working tax payers, that is the price you pay for my kids going to college, too bad for you, right democrats? Sign me up, where do I sign, and just think, two more kids in college and their total should be right around $100,000, pretty awesome deal for me.

YanktonCitizen2

You must be very bored to take the time to argue this with no one.

VoiceforAll

Very bored YanktonCitizen2? Bored that I don't care your president wants to buy votes by spending tax payers money to pay off the debt accrued, by choice, of thousands of people? So bored that I am tired of watching your president and party destroy this country day after day? You democrats just sit back, watch all these things happening, watch our country become an absolute disaster but people from your party will write letter after letter after letter about how bad Trump was. Get your head out of the sand, wake up, and realize what exactly your party is doing to this country. You would like that no one fights or argues or brings up information against any of these things, it would make it much easier for you to create your socialist country that you have always wanted, well it is not going to happen.

YanktonCitizen2

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