I haven’t had to pay my student loans in over three years.
Neither have any of the other 40 million US student loan borrowers.
Not since Donald Trump froze repayments in March of 2020. Since then, the repayment pause has been extended eight times. And despite the lack of repayment, the world kept turning. The government kept functioning.
Many began to hope that the repayment would be paused indefinitely, or that student loans would be wiped out entirely. But those hopes were squelched last week when the Biden administration announced that the pandemic emergency was over (a good thing) and that student loan repayments would resume (a bad thing).
US Borrowers Not Happy
I’ll tell you what: I’m not happy about student loan repayments. And I think I speak for millions of borrowers who are also frustrated and unhappy with repayments starting up again. The collective outrage should pose a threat to the incumbent administration, the ones turning the loan repayments on again – especially considering that the incumbent will likely be running for reelection against the guy who turned the repayments off three years ago. The simple fact is that with respect to student loans, Donald Trump helped me and my 40 million peers out, and Joe Biden gave me a kick in the butt.
But that’s an oversimplification, isn’t it? Because Trump represents a party that has vigorously opposed student loan forgiveness.
“Republicans are waging a multipronged attack on student loan forgiveness,” The Guardian reported. “As well as bringing legal challenges, which are now being heard in the Supreme Court, Republicans have put forward legislation that would block forgiveness.”
Meanwhile Biden has proposed a plan to forgive $10,000 in debt per borrower. It sounds generous but it’s small potatoes – although, it is $10,000 more than Republicans are proposing.
The Case for Forgiveness
Yes, yes, I understand the principle that those who take out loans should repay their debts, that US taxpayers should not have to subsidize other people’s education. But the hard truth is that student loan borrowers are not repaying their debts. So, while Republicans, and the federal government, have framed the issue as a choice between collecting repayments or not collecting repayments, the real issue is a choice between not collecting repayments or forgiving repayments – point being, the government ain’t getting that money back either way. So, they might as well cut the borrowers loose, let them invest their money elsewhere, let them take the four or five hundred dollars a month and buy stuff.
But aside from practical considerations, there is a deeper, moral-ideological argument for forgiving loans. First, student loans are a predatory scheme. Kids who can’t drink or vote or get a tattoo without parental consent are allowed to take out six figure sums to attend college. And while college used to both be affordable to attend and provide a degree that basically guaranteed admission into the middle class, today college is astronomically overpriced and fails to deliver economic security on the back end.
The entire scheme, despite being what young Americans are encouraged to do, is flawed, outdated, and leaving borrowers in a financial hole. And now, we’ve seen a concrete demonstration that the USA can survive just fine with a three year pause on loan repayments. Repayments should be paused indefinitely, or forgiven outright.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.