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Biden College Debt Bailout Backed By Local Students, but Its Future is Uncertain  

President Joe Biden’s announcement of student debt forgiveness last month is set to give current college students and those still struggling with debt some relief. Delaware Valley college attendees said they are thankful, but they add even more needs to be done.

Biden’s plan would relieve $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers making less than $125,000 as an individual or $250,000 per year as a household. That figure can rise to as much as $20,000 in debt for those receiving Pell Grants, a loan typically provided to lower-income households.

Faia Kronick, a senior at Bryn Mawr College, said she was surprised by the announcement.

“Biden did say he was going to address student debt, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen,” Kronick said. Biden’s own skepticism toward a forgiveness plan even as early as this year fed into that uncertainty. However, if the plan is implemented, Kronick would have all her debt forgiven.

“It seemed like the president wasn’t actually going to do what he said,” Victoria Awotide, a junior at Eastern University, said, expressing similar surprise that the move was finally taken.

Half of Awotide’s debt is set to be forgiven. She said that would take a burden off her in the future. She hoped she won’t have to take on jobs she does not like just so she can pay off her loans.

She has already worked at two part-time jobs since freshman year to lessen the burden but said that hasn’t made a huge dent despite pay being above minimum wage. But she hopes it helps her mother the most, who also has tried to help pay off the loans.

“It would be a huge relief for her, she’s a single mom,” Awotide said.

Kronick agreed a major burden would be removed from her future, as she would no longer have to include it when balancing her checkbook. However, she said she feels for her peers, many of whom still will have large debts remaining even after the forgiveness plan takes effect.

“I think they should just cancel all student debt,” Kronick said, believing there should be more done. “A lot of people have a lot more than $10,000 or $20,000 in debt. So while it’s still good, they should have done more.”

Awotide expressed a similar concern about the one-time nature of the program. She said she could end up having another $10,000 to pay by the time she graduates, meaning she would be right back where she started before the debt relief plan began.

However, the loan forgiveness program may not happen. Legal challenges are expected, which some experts argue must be approved by Congress, rather than ordered by the president.

Reflecting the nature of that uncertainty is the lack of plan local schools have for promoting the program to students.

All local schools who responded to DVJ’s requests for comment declined to say how their financial aid offices plan to help their qualifying students receive relief, and none of their websites detailed anything either.

Plus, not all the reception to the plan has been friendly. Some Americans argue they paid off their loans, so why shouldn’t the following generations do the same?

Awotide and Kronick both believe people should have more compassion for those in the current situation, and instead celebrate something that they think will help so many people struggling today.

“I don’t think anyone loses when other people win,” Kronick said. “We all benefit when other people around us live a quality life.”

That view is disputed by many Americans who would foot the bill, estimated to be as high as $1 trillion by the Penn Wharton Budget Model, to cover the cost of the loans. A new poll released by the libertarian Cato Institute found 76 percent of Americans oppose transferring college debts to taxpayers if it drives up the price of college. And 64 percent are against it if it raises taxes.

Meanwhile, Awotide says she thinks it is a sign that the government and politicians may keep to the promises they make to their constituents, even if it may be done for politically motivated reasons such as the upcoming midterm elections or Biden’s re-election bid.

“It just could be a tactic to get re-elected in 2024,” she said. “But for now at least, it kind of shows that the government is actually planning on (doing) what they said.”

CHOUGULE: Americans Are Paying More, Getting Less – Student Debt Forgiveness Would Drive More of the Same

The Biden administration has aggressively defended its economic record by telling the American people to ignore their lying eyes–the economy is strong so they should quit complaining. Reality keeps striking back against the White House narrative as gas prices cross $5 per gallon and inflation jumps 8.6 percent.

It has gotten so bad that even progressives like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) have noticed “the surge in consumer prices,” as she said in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. That letter must have resonated with the president, as he agreed to cancel $6 billion in student loan debt on Thursday.

Unfortunately for Americans, Democrats only acknowledge inflation when they are trying to advance massive government interventions—the types of policies that helped produce such price hikes to begin with. Omar and 56 other Democratic lawmakers told Cardona the “surge in consumer prices” justifies the decision to force taxpayers to pay the student loans of 200,000 borrowers.

Democrats consistently downplay inflation concerns as they chase gimmicks to appease their favored interest groups, while doing nothing to address the root causes of our most pressing issues. The White House, for example, cites national security in order to release petroleum reserves or subsidize solar power, but it offers no solutions to increase domestic energy production. Now, the White House’s election-year bid to unilaterally cancel student debt perfectly encapsulates our current economic situation: Dump taxpayer dollars into a broken system under the guise of helping people but inevitably making things worse.

After signing into law the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” last spring–with zero Republican votes–Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and others in their party barnstormed the country proclaiming “help is on the way.” But we know now that was false; it did not add to the recovery and contributed as much as 3 percentage points to inflation by the end of 2021, according to the San Francisco Federal Reserve. All the while, the administration did nothing to improve supply chain problems, address labor shortages, undo tariffs that increase costs, or reform any of the regulations that make it more expensive and burdensome to live and work in the United States.

The administration, cheered on by Omar and other progressives, employs identical logic to pay off student debt without requiring any badly-needed reforms to the higher education system. The only difference this time is that Biden is acting unilaterally through executive action because even this Congress appears to know better. A plurality of Americans opposes this idea with good reason.

Thursday’s announcement could be a preview of even more radical action to come. The administration is still considering plans to forgive $10,000 per borrower, which would cost more than $320 billion and worsen inflation by adding to consumer demand that the economy is already unable to meet. It would also be unfair and regressive, forcing people with lower incomes to pay for a government subsidy for higher earners.

All of this is unjust, but the most poisonous part of the plan is that it would entrench higher education’s flawed status quo, which has saddled 40 million people with $1.6 trillion in student debt. It is no accident that tuition skyrocketed as the government’s role in paying the cost of college expanded. Higher education institutions have no reason to rein in costs as long as they see government as a guaranteed payer. Moreover, there is little accountability for how those taxpayer-funded tuition dollars are spent and whether those expenditures benefit student outcomes.

Debt forgiveness undermines any incentive for students to borrow responsibly or choose a major that will adequately prepare them for the workforce and equip them to pay back their loans.

Just as the American Rescue Plan exacerbated inflation by boosting consumption without reform, student debt forgiveness would increase the incentive to borrow and spend irresponsibly for higher education and continue to inflate costs without any improvement in what schools are supplying.

Industries that do not enjoy such lavish government subsidies have seen the greatest declines in cost and improvements in quality and innovation, as Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute shows in “the chart of the century.” The title may sound like hyperbole until you see what has happened to higher education in the past four decades where tuition and government subsidy have reached record highs—as have dropout rates, indebtedness, and poor educational outcomes.

Forgiving all student loan debt would cost the government $1.6 trillion and could push inflation over 9 percent, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Fortunately, full forgiveness is likely off the table because the Administration knows it does not have the authority and Congress does not have the appetite outside of Omar and a couple dozen other progressives.

But even partial student debt forgiveness will encourage college administrators to double down on the broken status quo at the expense of taxpayers and teenagers. And it will make painfully clear that the White House still fails to realize that dumping gobs of taxpayer dollars into the economy has worsened, not helped, the situation and that they have failed to change course from the short-term gimmicks, politics, and reckless spending that got us here.

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