The Democrats’ plan feels like a short-term solution to a long-term problem
My party, contrary to my beliefs, has announced a student loan forgiveness plan (“Biden to void some student loan debt,” page A1, August 25). Swelling. My question is: what now? Do we do that again in two years, four years? In lieu of this unfair gift, Washington could use tax legislation to permanently deduct all post-high school education (four- and two-year college, vocational training, etc.) from personal income tax once a person enters full-time employment. Everyone (parents, grandparents, the individual) paying the bill is entitled to the deduction. If someone started a business instead of going to college, they already get deductions for business expenses. This approach would treat an investment in education or training in the same way. Finally, the amount of the deduction could be based on the applicant’s income, giving the greatest benefit to those who need help the most.
It’s outrageous how this country burdens students with debt
I can only disagree with Beth Akers’ op-ed, “Biden’s student-loan debt plan is driven by politics, not economics” (Opinion, August 29). In 1974, I borrowed $10,000 from a bank to get my architecture degree from Harvard. It took me 10 years to pay it back while painting houses, cleaning floors in a factory and doing other manual jobs to survive. Back then, about 40 percent of Massachusetts architects were out of work, which happens in times of inflation. I contributed to the wealth of the bank and Harvard University, but joined the population of America’s poor. How can the United States compete with other advanced countries in the world that educate young people for free?
We all benefit when borrowers are relieved
After grad school I lived modestly. I paid my loan monthly and put every free dollar towards the principal. I do not begrudge this generation of college and graduate school students, including those who did not graduate college and still have student loans to pay off, for lending. This generation of student borrowers has been stomach-kicked by a more than two-year COVID-19 hiatus, and these students have not made the professional and financial progress they would have had it not been for this historic societal disaster.
I realize that people who didn’t go to college and don’t have student loan debt but have other debts may feel resentment. They may feel that their taxes are paying for someone else’s credit forgiveness. The beneficiaries of student loan debt relief are their children’s teachers, social workers, medical providers, police officers, and many other professionals who provide the services they need. I would suggest that many of these beneficiaries of student loan debt relief are also funding this government spending through taxes they have paid. So we are all paying for student loan forgiveness. But I think it benefits everyone.
Colleges and universities that have huge endowments should get more involved
On “College was my chance to escape poverty. I expect to graduate with $160,000 in student loan debt.” (Opinion, Aug. 29): Timothy Scalona argues that paying for higher education requires what sounds like a reset. He argues that the government (I think he means taxpayers) should forgive all federally held debt and reinvest it in public higher education, thereby changing the commercialization of education. Since the government has done such a great job of managing social programs, why not? And while we’re at it, we’ll take care of the international students. Why should they be treated differently?
Like many others who have scraped their way through and worked multiple jobs to fund their way through college, I find this thinking hard to swallow.
Something has to change, however, and while Scalona mentions runaway tuition in passing, he neglects to point out that colleges and universities sit on about $700 billion in endowments that, along with their property, give little or no benefit to the federal government bring no revenue to government or their surrounding communities. Added to this are the billions in research funds that the taxpayer pays for.
It is unacceptable to ignore the role that institutions should play in solving this problem. Those who have paid for an education but cannot legitimately earn enough to pay off their loans earn a rebate from the schools in the form of loan repayments. In the future, tuition should be heavily subsidized by school endowments, or those endowments should be taxed, and schools should scale their tuition so that the fees paid reflect a student’s expected earning power after graduation.
There are many creative ways to approach this problem. Let’s give the folks who are finding a way to make a living a break and put the burden where it belongs.