Opinion: Do Not Forgive All Student Debt
My girlfriend forwarded me an article titled “The 1% of the Student Debt Crisis: Owing $150,000 in Loans.” The article told the follow-up story of Kelli Space, a girl who racked up $200,000 of debt getting a sociology degree from Northeastern. The article also had a link to Kelli Space’s website that follows her journey of paying down her debt. On this website, Kelli Space is actually asking for money to help combat her debt. I checked our her website until I hit something that pushed me over into a frenzy.
A link to Signon, an online petition to forgive all student debt. The Website has a brief statement stating their cause which is found below:
Forgiving the student loan debt of all Americans will have an immediate stimulative effect on our economy. With the stroke of the President’s pen, millions of Americans would suddenly have hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of extra dollars in their pockets each and every month with which to spend on ailing sectors of the economy. As consumer spending increases, businesses will begin to hire, jobs will be created and a new era of innovation, entrepreneurship and prosperity will be ushered in for all. A rising tide does, in fact, lift all boats – forgiving student loan debt, rather than tax cuts for corporations, millionaires and billionaires, has a MUCH greater chance of helping to rise that tide in a MUCH shorter time-frame. The future economic success of this country is wholly dependent upon a well-educated, prosperous middle class. Instead of saddling entire generations with debt from which there is no escape, let’s empower the American people to grow this economy on their own! .
Reading this makes my blood boil. Is this where our society is heading? Make a giant mess and then beg and cry for a bailout? Making the argument of “I would stimulate the economy if I had $1000 extra a month” is just flat out sickening. I agree people who spend money do stimulate the economy, and I think you already have stimulated the economy when you spent money you didn’t have. All this petition is doing is asking the taxpayers to give free money to students who were reckless. Although it’s hard to take this petition serious when it has the phrase “With the stroke of the President’s pen,” as if it is just that simple.
I was blessed with the opportunity to get out of college (Ohio State University) without debt, but it’s not lost on me what my family has provided for me. Also, when I was looking at majors for my degree, I factored employability and potential salary very heavily. It might seem a tad shallow to factor such things, but at the end of the day, it’s going to determine what kind of life you have. If you want to get the sociology degree and try to land a job in your field most likely earning $40-$50k, that’s great, but be prepared to live with the rewards and consequences of your career choices.
The bottom-line is that this girl made a mess for herself and made completely reckless choices. I do not wish harm to her, but she has to live with the result from her actions. That is why the SignOn petition is so frustrating to me. The idea almost implies that these students weren’t responsible for their actions, and as if someone needs to help them because of the crimes against them. I feel worse the homeless beggars in Cincinnati that were veterans or factory workers. Those people were blinded-side by what happened to them, unlike these students who logically should have known that when you borrow money, you owe it back.
I personally knew people in college who received loans for living expenses in addition to tuition, and I watched first hand as they purchased everything from Macbooks to Alcohol with their loaned money. But I also knew people who worked two jobs and borrowed the bare minimum in loans to graduate with a reasonable amount of debt or no debt at all. I look at people like my girlfriend who attends University of Cincinnati, a great school with a reasonable price for tuition (unlike Kelli Space’s college). I see a person who is fighting every step of the way to avoid expenses and ultimately reduce her student debt. If you forgave all student debt, her hard work and constant sacrifice would have completely been in vain.
So what is the solution to preventing people from recklessly destroying themselves? Recently it has been suggested that you could regulate people from being able to borrow absurd amounts of money for low paying and low placement degrees, but I would argue that financial education would probably be move effective. Education that focuses around the cost of education, personal finances, and risks and rewards of pursuing a degree. I also think every student should be provided job placement and salary information based on the university for his or her major/field.
The petition is now bragging about having 668k signatures, but I’m not impressed since this petition is basically asking people with debt “If you want free money, sign here.”
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