Something like 45 million Americans are carrying some amount of student debt, a debt that often gets bigger rather than smaller. In 2018, the average borrower owed $37,172 at the time of graduation, a figure that doubled since 2005. The schools with the most student debt are phony-baloney for-profit schools-- late night TV ad operations like University of Phoenix and Capella University-- not actual colleges and universities. The student debt problems uniquely American and doesn't really exist in other countries. The trade groups and lobbyists that represent them have seen to it that money greased the right palms so that sleazy politicians, often in Congress, would allow predators to take advantage of students. Funny enough... ever hear of this corrupt slime ball from Delaware a few decades ago... Joe Biden?
Biden, who made it easier for the predators to victimize students and explode the debt crisis, now has a chance to make up for some the grievous damage he's caused. His instincts, however, are holding him back. This morning USA Today's Jeanine Santucci reported that Biden, who has been claiming that he doesn't have the authority to cancel federal student debut by executive order, has directed Miguel Cardona, his education secretary, to revisit that.
College costs have steadily risen in recent decades, making the price tag of a higher education all but unaffordable without the assistance of student loans for many.
At the same time, students have been told that prosperous lives depend on a higher education. First-year students responding to a UCLA nationwide survey placed a higher importance on making more money and obtaining a better job as reasons for going to college in 2019 than students in the last 45 years. But the high cost of college has increased the debt that recent graduates have to climb out of as they start their careers.
U.S. News and World Report’s analysis of its ranked national universities shows that in the last 20 years, average tuition at private colleges rose by 144%; at public universities for out-of-state students by 165%; and at public universities for in-state students by 212%.
Data collected by the College Board shows that, after adjusting for inflation, over the last two decades, average tuition and fees at public four-year institutions have increased by over $5,000, and at private colleges and universities by more than $13,000 annually.
This school year, the College Board found that the average first-time, full-time student at a public, four-year college has to pay $14,850 in tuition, fees and boarding after grant aid. The average student at a private institution must cover $29,110 after grant aid. This does not include additional costs such as books, supplies and transportation.
Americans currently hold about $1.7 trillion in student loan debt, according to Federal Reserve data, with the average 2019 graduate of private or public colleges holding an average of $28,950 in debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
Lawmakers like Ocasio-Cortez have argued that’s why public college should be tuition-free.
“The more college costs soar, the more degrees become a measure [of] privilege than competence. Our country would be better off if we made public colleges tuition-free & cancelled student loan debt,” she tweeted.
It was basically free when I went to college at SUNY, Stony Brook in the late 1960's. It was the same for Biden when he was a student at the University of Delaware. The taxpayers subsidized my college education-- and Biden's college education. I had some small amount of student debt for room and board, long since repaid, and I would say it was a good investment for the taxpayers to finance my education because there were years before my retirement that I paid over a million dollars annually in taxes. Members of Congress who went to a public university when I did paid, on average, $243 a year for tuition. Those who went from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s-- as many of them did-- paid less than $1,000. In 1976, for example, tuition for in state public institutions averaged $479 annually. That helps explain why the have trouble empathizing with the plight of students today.
Washington state progressive Democrat, Jason Call, who is running for a congressional seat occupied by a garden variety corporate Dem, has, unlike his opponent, cancelling student debt as a part of his platform. "It’s encouraging," Call told me this morning, "to hear that the Biden administration is broadening its horizons on the student debt issue, particularly since he was in support of the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform bill that made it impossible to shed student debt through bankruptcy. Even though a majority of Democrats opposed that bill, the incumbent I’m challenging in WA-02 also supported that terrible legislation. As a high school teacher for almost twenty years I saw a direct connection between this legislation and both increasing college costs and school districts pushing 'college readiness for all students.' This combination of factors has led to the magnitude of the current student debt crisis, but it also needs to be addressed that in a real democracy we should be treating all education as not just as investment in an individual but an investment in society in general. We should cancel ALL student debt and make public colleges tuition free."
Santucci wrote that "many Democrats have asked Biden to commit to $50,000 in federal student loan forgiveness per borrower, putting mounting pressure on him to bypass Congress through the use of executive action. Student loan debt reached an all-time high in 2020 of more than $1.7 trillion. The average graduate also reached a record in loan debt of over $30,000 in 2019 for the first time since U.S. News and World Report tracked data, which is more than $6,000 higher in debt on average than a graduate held 10 years prior."
In a joint statement urging Biden to move on this, issued this week by Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, they pointed out that "Studies show that student debt cancellation can substantially increase Black and Latinx household wealth and help close the racial wealth gap, provide immediate relief to millions who are struggling during this pandemic and recession, and give a boost to our struggling economy through a consumer-driven economic stimulus that can result in greater home-buying rates and housing stability, higher college completion rates, and greater small business formation."
Shervin Aazami, like Jason Call, is running for a congressional seat-- this one in the L.A. area-- held by a corporate Democrat. He told me today that "Student loan forgiveness is about economic and racial justice for our communities. 44 million Americans face student debt, and the burden falls disproportionately on our low-income graduates of color. Black students can owe as much as twice the amount as white students after college, face higher interest rates, and are more likely to default on their loan payments. Student debt has kept a generation of youth from opening a business, buying a home, having children, and reaching financial stability. Countless organizations and many current members of Congress have called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt. I strongly support canceling ALL $1.7 trillion in debt to help restore our economy and lift millions of young people out of poverty. My opponent, Brad Sherman, has yet to even speak out about crippling student loan debt. With 98% of his campaign donors coming from industries like banking and finance-- who continue to exploit our education system for profit-- his silence on student debt cancelation is unsurprising. But the fact is, too many people are suffering in our district and nationwide because of skyrocketing debt for our congressman to do nothing. We need leadership that will advocate for everyday for structural reforms like canceling student debt and making public college tuition free, and our campaign is doing exactly that. Our public health platform also calls for unique solutions such as creating an education pipeline for youth to enter the healthcare and public health workforce to help rebuild our crumbling public health infrastructure, and eliminate growing workforce shortages in nurses, counselors, family doctors, and paramedics across our country." Can I suggest that you tap on the thermometer above and contribute to both Aazami's and Call's campaigns.