As young Americans move up the educational ladder, they are told from ages as young as grammar school that they must attend college so they can get a job and live a good life.
Well, here we are, but the only thing lying ahead is decades of debt. Meanwhile, a clear, simple solution continues to take a back seat to greed.
For Montclair State University, in particular, over half of students utilize federal financial loans to pay for their tuition, with payments averaging a little over $6,500 per year after graduating. That amount may seem manageable, but for those about to enter a decimated economy and desolate job market because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s anything but.
Up until now and the eerily uncertain future, Montclair State’s graduate default rate, that is, the percentage of students who do not make a student loan payment after 270 days, was quite favorable, calculated at 4.8% in 2016. However, we have learned this past year that everything can suddenly be turned upside down through no fault of our own.
Furthermore, tuition and room and board costs have increased exponentially each year and with state funding and student enrollment for the university taking a hit due to the pandemic, that incline will almost certainly be sharpened.
Generally, the average indebted college graduate can expect over 20 years of student loan payments. That comes with no guarantee of a job within the field the degree belongs to or any job paying a wage large enough to satisfy their loans while also paying for rent, utilities or groceries.
Before the presidential election this past November, The Montclarion endorsed the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and it is with disappointment and frustration that we acknowledge the Biden administration’s failure, thus far, to live up to the standards we advocated for.
President Biden has claimed he would be willing to expel student loan debt up to $10,000. However, it has yet to be made clear whether that motion is even within his jurisdiction. Even so, a $10,000 expulsion would only aid 30% of loan borrowers whereas an expulsion of $50,000 would take care of 80% of borrowers. When asked about a $50,000 forgiveness plan, Biden answered, “I will not make that happen.”
Whenever the topic of student loan debt forgiveness comes up, people are always quick to argue how it would be unfair to those who have already paid off their college tuition and student loans and that there is no reason why people in debt now should get a free pass.
That argument is the same as claiming it wouldn’t be right to give people the COVID-19 vaccine because it’s unfair to those who suffered from it.
It is understood that contracting COVID-19 can be a matter of life and death, whether it be for you or for those you may come into contact with, but decades of crippling financial debt carry a threatening risk as well.
Living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to make it to your next payday is not living. It is surviving and no one should have their entire future filled with financial burden and worry because of a decision they were told they had to make their entire lives in order to avoid that exact obstacle.
Generation after generation enters the workforce with dozens of thousands of dollars of debt standing lockstep in the way of a financially stable and, more importantly, mentally stable life.
A $50,000 expulsion plan would cost about $1 trillion. Often times, people hear that number and immediately become turned off. The argument is made that money would be more valuable if put toward things like the military or foreign aid or what have you, but what is more valuable than the well-being of the newest members of our country’s workforce? Nothing.