As a Millennial with student loans, the idea of a magic eraser wiping my Sallie Mae account clean sounds really good – actually too good. And when things sound too good to be true, they usually are.
When politicians say, they want to “erase,” “cancel,” or “forgive” student loan debt, what they are really talking about is redistributing personal debt. They want to transfer the balance from individual student loan accounts to an account that all Americans are on the hook for, including the over 120 million without a degree.
Blue-collar workers who entered the workforce straight after high school and didn’t go to college would be forced to foot the bill for college degrees, which would give others a leg up. On average, those with degrees earn almost $30,000 more a year than those without degrees.
Americans who went to community college and received a two year-degree would be on the hook for bachelors and masters degrees. They would be subsidizing the six-figure careers of professors, engineers, and financial analysts even though the median yearly earnings of associate degree holders is around $43,000.
Those who dreamt of going to medical school or law school but ended up forgoing because of the amount of debt they’d have to take on, like me, would be made to finance the high-cost dreams of others. On average, advanced degree students borrow three times more than undergraduates per academic year and account for 40% of all federal student loans.
The 3.6 million parents, like my mother, who worked tirelessly for years and is now excitedly within eyesight of finally paying off her Parent Plus Loans, would be back to square one. Instead of finally getting to enjoy their golden years, they’ll be working to pay for the debt of others.
Hardworking graduates who have since paid off their student loans would be back in the hole again. Those who worked tirelessly, scrimped and saved, and often went without, just so they’d finally be free of student loan debt, would once again be paying off Sallie Mae.
Plans promising to “erase,” “forgive,” or “cancel” student loan debt are too good to be true. There’s no magic eraser, just immorality.
As much as I’d like to see my student loan balance go to zero overnight, making the American people pay for my debt isn’t fair. I consented to the terms, signed on the dotted line, and cashed the checks. It was solely my name on the loan documents, and it’s exclusively my name on the bachelors degree – no one else’s.
Do I regret taking out student loans to pay for college? Without a doubt, yes. I basically purchased a $30,000 piece of paper on credit. As irritating as I may find this, it doesn’t, nor should it, change the fact that I’m personally responsible for paying back those who lent me the money to pay for it. My present regret doesn’t negate my prior consent.
No one should have to pay for the decisions I’ve made, just as I shouldn’t have to pay for those made by others. There is nothing fair about redistributing personally held debt to those who didn’t consent to it in the first place, just as there is nothing compassionate about making Americans subsidize the life choices of others. Making the public pay for private gain is downright immoral.