We have a moral obligation to not cancel student debt

Hey-o. ‘Tis official – I will be shutting tol’ Galloblog down in a few months (I’m not renewing my plan or my domain this year). What shall I use this blog for in the meantime? To share my unpopular opinions, of course. I’m not the first one to speak on this subject and soytenly not the most eloquent, but.. some of this stuff needs to be said by a young educated female instead of grumpy Bill O’Reilly types. Or maybe not. The 6 people who still read my posts can decide.

So – student debt. It’s out of control. Should we cancel it?

I say no. My main reason for saying this is that it’s simply not fair.

  1. No one is forced to go to a 4 year college
    •  Ever since.. oh let’s say the 80s or 90s, it was kind of assumed that everyone who wasn’t in extreme poverty or had an inkling of intelligence would and should go to college. High schools do try to prepare their students for college and push them to apply. But at the end of the day, no one put a gun to your head and told you that you had to go to college. It’s not as if a government mandate got students in their current position.
  2.  Going to a 4 year college is not necessary for success
    •  On top of that, there are many trades that are very lucrative and in high demand – electrician, welding, plumbing, etc. They may not be glamorous or cushy but they are good options for young people to consider. Dignified options. They may require a tad of debt but it’s much more likely you will get a lucrative job and actually be able to pay it off in a few years, instead of having a lifetime payment that is equivalent to a second mortgage.
  3.  Going to a 4 year expensive college is definitely not necessary for success
    •  I knew from the time I was 16 that I was going to get my PhD. So a trade school wasn’t a good option. Did that mean I needed to go an Ivy League or private school? Nope. I went to a good ol’ state college. I worked ~30 hours for a small business while I was a full-time student. I took advantage of the HOPE scholarship (thank you, Zell Miller!) and kept my grades pristine so that I would stand out to grad schools. I graduated with $0 in debt and I got my PhD at Emory University. While not quite as prestigious as Harvard or MIT, it is very respectable and many PhDs in my program have gone on to get jobs at Stanford, Harvard, etc. I could have gone into debt to pay for a $25k/year college, but it was 100% unnecessary.
  4.  What about people who made sacrifices to pay off their debt already?
    •  Believe it or not, there are people out there who actually lived below their means for a long time to make great strides toward paying off their debt. My sister and boyfriend, for example. 10s of thousands of dollars paid. What about their peers who haven’t made as much progress? Does it make sense for them to suddenly get a write-off? That is completely not fair, unless you’re going to retroactively reimburse everyone who was prudent enough to pay off their debt, which would become absurd. It’s morally repugnant to punish people for being responsible.

 

So what’s the alternative? I’m not sure… but I like the idea of student loan forgiveness programs like the United States military is doing. Maybe the government could offer incentive for businesses to institute similar programs. Or perhaps we could convince businesses to stop insisting that every single job they post require a minimum bachelor’s degree education for jobs that are 95-100% learned on-the-job, anyway. Better yet, maybe we could make the legally required public education actually teach the youts anything useful so that the first two years of college “core” classes in which they cover things like basic writing skills and the 3 branches of government could be done away with, and only the two years of actually major-relevant courses would be required. That would slash loans in half! There are many options, but canceling student debt like Academic Santa Clause is the least moral.