Friday, December 4, 2020

Cancelling Student Debt - A Big Mistake

 The Socialists call for cancelling all student debt and or free college.  So let's get this straight, they want the two thirds of Americans that don't attend college to pay higher taxes to pay for the third of Americans that do attend college and benefit from it.  And, since those that don't attend college usually make less money in the long run than those that do attend college, this becomes a double hit.  This is just plain wrong.  

As someone who worked his way through multiple degrees and had no student debt, I know that college is attainable for everyone with hard work, focus, discipline, passion and the ability to deal with delayed gratification.  Now to be fair, I went to college during the golden age in California when community colleges were essentially free.  I paid $5 a semester for a student activity card and the cost of my books for the first two years of college.  And then, I attended Cal State where tuition began at $84 a semester and ended 11 years later at $184 a semester plus the cost of books.  Of course, that was more than forty years ago so to translate those monies into today's dollars, that would have been about 10 times more so maybe $840 to $1,840 in today's dollars plus the cost of books per semester.  Still much less than is charged today at Cal State.  

First, we should make community colleges or two years of vocational school basically free.  Most young people can work enough to pay for books and living expenses and or they can live home with their parents as I did for those first few years.  Community college is really grades 13 and 14 of high school; but it is the best way to complete the first 60 units of undergraduate work.  Ultimately, the degree will come from the four year school anyway so no disadvantage at all.  Next, rather than simply grant student loans to kids who need them to finish a four year degree or graduate school, there should be a work requirement to pay for at least 50% of expenses to bring down student debt.  In the long run, this will be good for the kid who will get some work experience to add to a resume when looking for a job. Unlimited borrowing has done nothing more than raise the cost of tuition.  Student loans are the gravy train for colleges and universities that just continue raising tuitions way above the rate of inflation.  That is what happens when money is free at least in the short term.   

Student loans should be at very low interest rates, perhaps government subsidized if needed during high interest rate periods and payable over 20 or 30 years to represent the best earning years for most people.  Forgiving student debt is not the answer.   And, or making college completely free at the expense of other taxpayers who do not benefit from it, is not fair and should not occur.  Why not give businesses some special tax break for assisting with paying off student loans as part of a recruitment process.  And, or maybe it makes sense to forgive student loans for occupations badly needed in our country like doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists etc. over a number of years.  Making two years of community college or vocational schools essentially free is more than enough expense to cover at taxpayer expense for the benefit of society no different than paying for public schools; though since many of them in our inner cities are failing, that investment is questionable.  

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