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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Biden’s loan forgiveness plan is a temporary fix to a bigger problem

Deeper issues in the American education system need to be addressed to make college education more affordable

 

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

 

On paper, President Joe Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan seems to guarantee loan forgiveness for millions of borrowers across the United States. Upon closer inspection, however, it appears that not only is loan forgiveness not guaranteed, but it also does not contribute to any meaningful long-term change.

Further, the current loan forgiveness plan could be delayed, or even in danger. At least three challenges from conservative groups and lawmakers attempting to block the bill have been filed so far, and while there doesn’t seem to be much merit to the current lawsuits, the legal action could, at the very least, delay forgiveness.

If you are eligible for debt relief through Biden’s plan, be prepared to request the form as soon as it’s available. It’s possible that even if the courts rule against the Biden administration, you could keep your loan forgiveness if your debt gets canceled before the ruling takes effect. Sign up on the Education Department’s website to stay up to date with related news.

These challenges aside, even if the bill does go through, it’s merely a bandaid — a one-time solution to a recurring problem. Forgiving loans does not make college affordable in the future, and higher education will continue to be expensive.

New students will start their college career, and many of them will be forced to take out loans to make ends meet. Even if their debt is forgiven, and that’s a big if, where does it end? To stop this cycle, a long-term structural change to the higher education system is needed. Continued, unsustainable loan forgiveness isn’t going to cut it (if this were to happen at all), especially because the money has to come from somewhere. Sources show that, in some states, the forgiven debt can be seen as income, and would therefore be taxed.

Additionally, it’s important to ask, “Why now?” when it comes to Biden’s plan for debt relief. With midterm elections coming up in early November, it’s possible that loan forgiveness is being strategically deployed now to win the votes of millions of Americans. When the elections are over, it isn’t guaranteed that college students will continue to be supported, even if the midterms have favorable results for the Democrats. Besides, Biden won’t hold office forever, and succeeding administrations could easily refuse to cancel debt. It’s important to advocate for change that is both easier to protect and more difficult to dismantle.

Everyone deserves the chance at a college education without being suffocated by crushing debt, and it’s understandable that college students with less financial resources may feel as if they have no power to change their own circumstances, let alone the entire education system. But that is precisely why it’s so important to make our voices heard.

We urge you to vote for candidates who will fight for access to affordable education, especially in your local and state elections. But casting your vote isn’t the only thing you can do. Attend protests, write or call your senators and spread the word.

Affordable education is possible — we see the proof in other countries around the world. And while we understand that every education system is different, the UCs themselves were free for California residents until 1970. Even though free college seems like a pipe dream, these are the kinds of things we must keep in mind as we advocate for affordable education. And it begs the question: are the UCs doing California residents the service they were created to provide as state schools?

We are not pretending to have the answers to the crisis that is the higher education system in the U.S., but we do know that something needs to change. Debt relief shouldn’t be the end — it should only be the beginning.

 

Written by: The Editorial Board