Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate for the 2020 elections, recently got attention with his policies for student loan debt crisis solutions. He presented a detailed plan that aims towards entirely free community college education and passing a law that allows bankruptcy discharge for private student loans.
Biden also suggests policies for simplifying the repayment and debt relief for community or national service. This is a highly promising proposal. If the government implements measures like these, many people would find a relief from this student loan crisis in their lives.
Let’s discuss the student loan issue a bit deeper, shall we? By 2019, the debt has risen to $1.6 trillion. That’s a huge amount, which represents 7.5% of U.S. GDP.
We’ll go through three possible ways how to fix the student loan crisis.
How to solve the student debt crisis
- Addressing the root of the problem
Before we can think of any student debt crisis solutions, we should think: why does the problem even exist? Treating the effect without addressing the cause makes no sense. Such an approach would only take the entire country to a financial crisis. New generations of students would still get in a lot of debt, and the government would have to relieve a lot of it in the future.
College tuition is the problem we should first and foremost address. Private colleges charge at least $50K for yearly tuition. Sure; making public colleges free would be a great thing. But private institutions are more prestigious and students still want to go there. In addition to getting in debt, they have to work to cover living expenses. Thus, they struggle to complete all assignments, so they have to hire help with assignment. That costs more money, which they don’t always have. Another solution is to quickly rewrite content from the web, but that would lead to plagiarism issues. So an average student cannot complete good papers. That leads to failures and additional time at college. That leads to more debt.
The government has to find ways to make private college education more affordable. That can be done by introducing more scholarships or providing subventions.
Lower tuition would eliminate the need for most students to work. They would cover all expenses with scholarship. If they take loans, they would be lower. This would enable the student to study better and spend more time on their academic projects. Instead of purchasing papers online, they would write their own content and they would check it with plagiarism detection tools. Colleges argue that they increase the tuition with the intention to offer better quality of education. However, from a student’s perspective, the quality of their learning would be much better if the tuition was lower.
- Including private businesses in the equation
The student loan crisis will be alleviated in the future if we address the root of the problem. But what will we do with those who took large loans throughout college and now they have come due? The government cannot dismiss the responsibility of these people to repay their debt. The lenders have to get their money. If the government covers that huge amount, the taxpayers won’t be happy about it.
There’s a realistic solution: companies can contribute to student loan payments in return for tax relief. This policy would also inspire businesses to hire employees who just got out of college. The debt would be repaid at a faster pace, and everyone would benefit from the process.
- Raising awareness among students
Many students take on loans without realizing what it means to their future. They don’t understand what their net cost would be on the market, so they get in debt that’s hard to repay. Lenders must increase the transparency of their programs. Instead of luring students by highlighting the benefits they get by taking a loan, they should focus on issuing realistic loans and teaching students how to repay them when they are due.
Students have the power to change things
The generations whose debts are due can only rely on the government for relief. But current generations of students can avoid that scenario for themselves. They are the force of change in society. They can make real pressure on universities to lower tuition expenses. They can achieve change through protests or even a boycott.
They mustn’t forget that they don’t depend on the college. There’s always a public college they could get in for a lower cost. They could always take online certificates for a lower price. It’s the school that depends on the students. When they pressure enough for a change, they will see it.
As for the current repayments, we all have to pressure the government to introduce beneficial policies.
Robert Everett has an interest in the education industry. He explores how different educational systems around the world function. You can follow him on Twitter to get updates on his latest research.