Chapman’s News & Ideas Student Loans: Payment Optional

Originally published at The American Spectator

Last year, President Joe Biden nixed the idea of a huge student loan forgiveness package when he told the New York Times’ David Brooks, “The idea that you go to Penn and you’re paying a total of 70,000 bucks a year and the public should pay for that? I don’t agree.”

Biden was right. Since most Americans don’t graduate with college degrees, why should all taxpayers subsidize higher-income earners, who have enjoyed access to federal grants, loans, and tax credits?

No one forced students to borrow thousands of dollars for pricey college tuition. So why should taxpayers pick up the tab for Americans who likely will make more money than non-college graduates?

Hill Democrats are pushing Biden to sign an executive order to woo young voters ahead of November’s midterm elections. It’s not clear if an order is legal, but if he does sign an order, he’ll have another problem: He’ll make those of us taxpayers who paid off our student loans feel like suckers.

As it is, Biden is continuing the student loan payment holiday ordered under former President Donald Trump because of COVID-19 in March 2020; after extensions, it is set to sunset on Aug. 31.

“Not a single person in this country has paid a dime” on federal student loans since Biden took office, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.

Since the Trump-Biden holiday made no carve-out based on economic need, the policy was a 30-month gift. Rather than say, “Thank you,” Hill Democrats are arguing it’s not enough; Biden is supposed to shave $10,000 off their debt. Or more.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York crunched the numbers and estimated that a $10,000 loan forgiveness package would cost $321 billion. A more generous deal — Sen. Elizabeth Warren has advocated student loans to the tune of $50,000 per student — would cost $904 billion.

“The fact that we’re talking about forgiveness and not the cost of college,” Armand Alacbay of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni noted, “is really leaving colleges off the hook.”

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, protested in a statement, “Taxpayers have been footing the student loan bill for graduate students and Ivy League lawyers to the tune of $5 billion every month while their wallets are being drained by skyrocketing inflation.”

Foxx sees the push to extend the payment holiday as “setting the stage for blanket loan forgiveness.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says he wants to cancel all student loan debt for 45 million Americans who owe $1.6 trillion.

Free college is going to get very expensive — especially for those who don’t go to college.

Debra J. Saunders

Fellow, Chapman Center for Citizenship Leadership
A fellow with Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership, Debra J. Saunders worked for more than thirty years covering politics on the ground and in Washington, as well as American culture, the news media, the criminal justice system, and dubious trends in public schools and prestigious universities. Her column is nationally syndicated with Creators Syndicate.