Student debt forgiveness deserves to be higher on the national agenda. It has been a severe crisis that our government has ignored for far too long. Unfortunately, due to the society we live in, students are not offered much of a choice other than paying the cost of higher education to acquire a high paying job.
President Joe Biden’s initial plan to support forgiving $10,000 in student debt is not enough. Arguably, Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, campaign to forgive $50,000 of every student’s student debt is not either, though it is better than the president’s proposed solution. Students are burdened with loans that can haunt them for life. Even when they enter the workforce, many still struggle to pay off the loans and interest that build up.
It is not fair to place massive debt onto students before they begin their lives and expect them to pay it off as they also embark on the other expensive financial pursuits of life, including marriage, having children and paying mortgages. Loans provide the ability to begin life, but they do not support a healthy, happy life. Students should not have to turn to crowdfunding platforms to pursue their goals.
For the 2020–21 academic year, the cost of undergraduate attendance at Ithaca College, including tuition, room and board, and estimated book and personal expenses, is $65,599. Even with scholarships and grants, tuition costs across the country remain steep. Whether the price tag of higher education is worth it is a question that has yet to be convincingly answered. Especially when institutions across the country, including our own, are choosing to lay off faculty and staff members, it is hard to justify the high cost. Yet many students do not have a choice — higher education promises a high return on investment, but that does not account for work fields that are struggling themselves.
Some students are not afforded the privilege of relying on their parents. Nearly three in 10 American Black and Latinx college students are solely responsible for paying for all of their higher education costs, according to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, an American nonprofit organization that attempts to help the Black college community acquire a high-quality college education at an affordable cost. Colleges can become more diverse if they are more financially accessible.
Student loan debt forgiveness is overdue. We need to provide students stability and support as they attempt to break out into the workforce to support our national economy. They do not deserve to be riddled with financial stress that can impair them for life.