By Ethan Nichols, Global News Editor
The rising cost of higher education has quickly become the defining crisis of our generation.
As many universities, including Xavier, continue to raise tuition fees without providing adequate relief to low-income and middle-class students, it’s time for the federal government to take action to help the millions of Americans burdened with student loan debt.
At Xavier, our tuition fees have increased by 6% this year, for a total of 43.77% increase over the past 10 years. Xavier quickly becomes inaccessible to many people. Myself, I rely heavily on scholarships and financial aid to pay Xavier.
I was very lucky to receive significant financial assistance. As a Community Engaged Fellow, I commit to 10 hours a week of community service and receive a substantial scholarship. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be here. But not all students are so lucky.
Nearly 48 million Americans have student loan debt, and at a time when Americans are struggling to make ends meet, the Biden administration announced it was canceling $10,000 in student loan debt and 20 $000 for Pell Grant recipients.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, President Biden campaigned for full student loan debt cancellation. In a medium post, Biden wrote, “I propose to forgive all federal student debt related to two- and four-year public college and university undergraduate tuition for debt holders earning up to $125 $000, with appropriate phasing outs to avoid a bluff. ”
Biden has the legal power to cancel all student loan debt via executive action; it’s clear. Harvard legal experts wrote that the student loan debt forgiveness proposals “would be a lawful and authorized exercise of the secretary’s authority under applicable law.”
The Biden administration’s decision to write off just $10,000 in student debt is clearly motivated by a lack of political will.
Full student loan debt forgiveness was a signature policy proposal during the 2020 election and has become quite a mainstream idea.
Canceling student loan debt is not the definitive solution to the higher education affordability crisis.
In the long term, higher education will still remain inaccessible and too expensive for many Americans. To really solve this problem, all public four-year colleges and universities should be 100% free for any American who wishes to attend, as well as technical and community colleges.
While the political reality is that a free public college is unlikely, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t advocate it. In the meantime, complete and unilateral student debt cancellation is a reasonable, popular, legal, and effective way to help ease some of the burden for millions of Americans. Low-income and working-class families are struggling, now more than ever. It is time to act to support them. Polls show that the majority of Americans support canceling student debt.
Not only is canceling student debt the morally right thing to do, it is also a popular political proposal. Democrats have seen significant swings in the polls recently and are gaining momentum as they approach midterms. A sure way for Democrats to retain control of the House and expand their majority in the Senate is to write off all student loan debt immediately. Democrats can win by enacting broadly popular policies supported by the majority of Americans. You win by getting things done.
Now is the time for President Biden to keep his promise and immediately cancel all student loan debt for all Americans.