Americans owe nearly $1.8 trillion in student debt. It is a crisis that puts a stumbling block in front of Americans as they attempt to become financially independent. In one study, The Wall Street Journal found that even elite master’s programs left graduates “financially hobbled for life”. The student debt crisis is so severe that it is having an impact on dental and veterinary services. So when President Joe Biden announced a student loan relief package, you’d think Republicans would support the measure. Instead, Republicans have greeted this expansion of federal support with derision, accusing Biden of shifting wealth, pursuing inflationary policies and pandering to elites.
In today’s world, getting a college education is essential to getting a well-paying job. Unless you become an elite athlete or performer, without a college education it’s next to impossible to get a well-paying job, the kind of job that rings the American dream. Expanding access to college education is also an important way to reduce racial and gender inequalities. People who go to college aren’t guilty of wanting to achieve the American Dream and better themselves. Unfortunately, the cost of a college education has accelerated, federal support has not kept pace, and neither has wages. Millions of Americans are left between a rock and a hard place: not going to college and accepting that certain doors are closed to them, or going to university and accepting decades of debt repayments that they may never end up paying.
The system betrayed a generation of university graduates. Rather than attacking the president for continuing a relief program, we should think about expanding the program. As it stands, it only provides moderate support. There is still a lot to do. Yet supporting ordinary Americans in their pursuit of a good education and well-paying jobs is frowned upon by Republicans, while support for tax breaks for the wealthy is seen as vital to our nation’s prosperity.