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Student Debt Forgiveness Will Keep Greasing the Gears of Our Educational Funding Scam

Federal student debt has tripled over the past 15 years. Some 43 million Americans now have some kind of student debt. The average amount owed is approx. $39,350 per borrower.  Instead of addressing the skyrocketing cost of education at its root, future policies will now be ad hoc paste jobs of retroactive rule changes, but only for the chosen few and at the expense of the rest of us.

It is important to remember these loans were applied for and accepted voluntarily by young adults seeking to pay for college or graduate level studies. Obviously, anyone holding this debt would love to see some or all of it disappear. However, this leaves the rest of us asking “is that how things will work in this country going forward?”

Forgiving student loan debt, a debt that was taken on knowingly by those receiving them, perpetuates this country’s higher educational funding scam. It is also a change of rules midstream and will only encourage more “bad behavior” amongst a large pool of recipients going forward. Worse, it punishes borrowers who actually paid back their loans. Then there is the unpaid bill that will have to be paid by people who never took out any loans in the first place – the US taxpayer. We will now be forced to help pay off loans that other people took out, benefitted from, and now want the rest of us to pay it back for them.

Put simply, “forgiving” hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt sets a bad precedent and strikes at the very core of one of the basic tenets we are supposed to live by – personal responsibility. Cancelling legitimate student debt will also create enormous performance risk on all loan balances in the student loan program. Why should all current or future borrowers even bother to pay their debt when not paying might be richly rewarded with full or partial cancellation sometime in the future? Additionally, colleges and universities will continue to have every incentive to NOT find ways to cut costs since future tuition hikes will be the responsibility of, well… probably whoever is reading this article, rather than the student borrower. That sounds fair, right?

President Biden continues to push student debt forgiveness regardless of the consequences. The current proposal would give anyone with incomes of up to $249,999 some debt relief on their federal student loans. Yet the median national income is only $80,000. In other words, middle income families who could not afford college or scrimped and saved in order to not take on debt, or better yet, worked their way through college, would pick up the tab of others who are now probably making multiples of their income. What about vocational jobs, like the plumbing apprentice who borrowed to buy tools and supplies instead of majoring in Humanities at an expensive university? They now get a bill for which they never got any benefit. How is that remotely fair or ethical?

Canceling student debt also keeps the grease of cash in the gears of the educational funding scam. Teachers unions love the idea of government handouts to students while vehemently opposing Charter Schools – which have consistently produced students far better educated than those in the public schools systems ( Teachers’ unions are not about bettering student outcomes. They are all about the money, especially government money. Then they donate heavily to the very politicians and organizations who make sure the money keeps flowing back to them.

Colleges and universities get to continue promoting degree majors with at best questionable career value, without being held to account. Some of America’s most prestigious colleges have billion-dollar endowments that remain fully untaxed. Worse, the politically liberal campus crowd benefits while the mason, landscaper or maintenance person across town will get to pay the bill. Not surprisingly, the educational funding scam benefits only a certain political class yet slams the door on others less fortunate..

U. Penn’s Wharton School estimates this student debt cancellation charade will cost the country $300 billion. Other estimates of the true cost are much higher – closer to $1 trillion. Consider that roughly 70% of the forgiveness will go to households in the top 60% on the income scale. These include doctors, lawyers and those who are most able pay back their voluntary debt obligation taken on years earlier.  Fully 25% of student debt was for people seeking a graduate level degree,  meaning this debt was assumed after “finding out what college was all about.” (

We now apparently live in a world where it is okay to give puberty blockers to pre-pubescent children who are deemed to be mature enough to choose their genders. If that is true then certainly the same world can ask individuals, years later and older, who make financial commitments to pay back their debts that they have voluntarily assumed.

Beyond just a fairness issue- a favorite theme for the Democrats – the economic, ethical and moral damage that cancelling student debt will cause is something the country cannot sustain.  It rewards bad behavior and sends the wrong message at the wrong time. We can’t afford another big mistake of this kind.

Robert B. Chernin

Robert B. Chernin

Robert is a longtime entrepreneur, business leader, fundraiser, and former radio talk show host. He studied political science at McGill University in Montreal and has spent over 25 years deeply involved in civic affairs at all levels. Robert has consulted on a variety of federal and statewide campaigns at the gubernatorial, congressional, senatorial, and presidential level. He served in leadership roles in the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush as well as McCain for President. He led Florida’s Victory 2004’s national Jewish outreach operations as Executive Director. In addition, he served on the President’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.