Is canceling student loan debt the answer?

There’s a lot of talk these days about canceling student loan debt. American student loan debt is topping $1.5 trillion. And it’s a problem that’s plaguing a generation of graduates–unable to purchase homes and cars…start families…and do other things they want to do with their lives, due to the burden of debt hanging over their heads.

So, canceling that debt seems like the most obvious answer. Right? If this debt was canceled…grads could move forward with their lives and have more money to spend, stimulating the economy.

That’s not the entire picture, though. Some argue that canceling debt is a bit of a moral issue, because it rewards those who have accumulated and does nothing for those who diligently avoided it (even forgoing desired degrees in an effort to do so).

More pressing, however, is the fact that canceling debt does nothing to solve the problem of how and why student loan debt was accumulated in the first place. There is a profound misunderstanding–or really, a lack of understanding–of how we as a society should be viewing and treating higher education.

Post-secondary education is a tool–one we can and should use to get us to the career paths we have carefully considered and chosen for our lives. But that means we need to do that kind of real, careful consideration–which includes self-assessment, research, vetting, and an analyzation of the “return on investment” of our post-secondary educational options.

But without this systemic change of mind, or new understanding…we as a society are doomed to repeat our mistakes. As one graduate interviewed in this article was quoted, “With $50,000 in loans forgiven, it would be a completely different financial picture. I might go back to school; I might pursue something a little bit more creative.”

So wait. After getting school debt forgiven…students are saying they’d flock back to school?

Without a systemic re-understanding and approach of higher education, we as a society could run into a revolving door of pursuing degrees (without a solid purpose or plan)…and then government debt forgiveness. Accumulate debt. Forgive. Repeat.

This is not to say that student loan forgiveness shouldn’t be a thing. We’re not suggesting that at all. What we’re saying is, student loan debt has gotten out of hand. Students have been duped into thinking they need to take on the equivalent of a home mortgage (at age 18, no less!) just to have a chance for a bright future. And parents have been duped into thinking they need to put off retirement, or sell homes and assets, just to do the best for their kids.

Some student loan forgiveness could potentially be a really great reset for some Americans who have fallen victim to the way the system is set now. But we, as a society, need to actually SOLVE the problem moving forward–so we don’t continually fall trap again.

That’s why we exist. The college application system is broken, and we are here to reset the rules. We are here to give power back to the students and the families–those who this is really all about in the first place. Here’s how we can do this.

We are thought leaders in this space…and want to keep the conversation going. What are your thoughts? What questions do you have? We’d love to keep the conversation going. Write us a note–here or below, and we’ll get right back to you to keep this conversation alive.

Let’s do it. Our students’ futures are too important to only half-way solve this problem.

Let's keep this conversation going! If you have any questions or comments about this blog post, drop us a note below and we'll get back to you!