There has been lots of noise about canceling student debt recently.
That’s worse than closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.
It’s like buying a new horse but leaving the barn door open!
If all student debt was gone tomorrow, we would be right back where we started when a whole new crop of students graduate.
Last month, the administration unilaterally extended the pause on paying back student loans for all borrowers until the end of August, regardless of need.
It doesn’t matter that all Americans are back to work now if they want to be.
It doesn’t matter if the borrower is making six figures and can afford to pay off their loans.
The latest extension will bring the cost of this student loan payment pause up to $150 billion.
For context, the entire Department of Education budget for this year is about half that – $80 billion.
Higher education advocates have been calling for a doubling of the Pell Grant.
That’s the program that targets aid to those with the most financial need.
It’s a noble goal to double the Pell Grant, but of course Congress needs to find the money somewhere to do that.
Instead, the Biden administration is spending billions of dollars to allow high-earners with graduate degrees to not pay their loans with no say from Congress.
If you want to help those who owe more in student loans than they can afford to pay, we need to fix the student loan program on the front end.
We need to change the incentives and give colleges a reason to bring down tuition.
Right now, a high school student looking at college is often in the dark about what they will pay.
It’s no wonder that prices rise when students don’t even know what they are, and students are encouraged to borrow the maximum even if they don’t need it.
That’s why I introduced three bipartisan bills to give students the information they need to make the choice that works best for them.
My bills would make it easier for a student to see how much each college would cost, what aid they’re getting, and what their average salary versus student loan payment would be.
The answer isn’t to cancel student debt only after students have gotten in-over-their-heads.
It’s to stop them from getting in that situation in the first place.
And it certainly shouldn’t be done unilaterally from the White House with no say from Congress on a $150 billion program.
Even worse, the benefits of just canceling or pausing student debt are mainly going to those at the top of the income range.
Graduates with the most debt also tend to be those with the longest degrees, and they are now doctors or lawyers.
Doctors and lawyers might have plenty of debt now, but people with a graduate degree are also much more likely to have a higher salary and much higher lifetime earnings.
Are the two-thirds of Americans without a college degree somehow less deserving of a free $10,000 or $50,000 in canceled debt than doctors and lawyers?
I’m sure many Iowans would be happy to have their car loans or mortgages paid off.
Canceling debt is not the solution.
Instead, I have been glad to see many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle join my bills to prevent excess student debt in the first place.
We need to help students by giving them the information they need to find the best college for their needs at a cost they can afford.
Forgiving student debt is a slippery slope to a lot of other interests wanting debt forgiveness.