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Student Loan Debt

Kierra Wright

In a New York Times article, Ron Lieber states that student loan borrowers are not owed forgiveness, they are owed an apology. According to Lieber, the government should express regret for how higher education was sold as a remedy for poverty when it has in fact become a burden. Student loans are often offered under the ruse that student loan debt is “good debt” that will pay for itself, but that presumed promise was false and faulty.

Student loans are supposed to make higher education possible for students who do not come from families with college funds and those who cannot afford college costs outright. However, student loans do not make education more affordable, they make the associated debt more available. Lieber points out that “we ask teenagers to borrow tens of thousands of dollars [for school] that we would never lend them for anything else.”

The predatory practices of student loan programs preys on the desperation of students who are told an education automatically translates to higher paying jobs and salaries. Using the same lure and consequences of rent-to-own franchises, consumers and students are deceived by delayed payments, hidden interests and fine print— what they pay for often ends up being more than they bargained for—an education that is more expensive and less valuable than they expected. This is especially true for those who obtain debt but do not complete their degree.

Student loan debt disproportionately affects Black and Brown students who earn lower wages and lack generational wealth. Black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than their peers. Experts suggest that student loan forgiveness could help narrow the racial wealth gap, which is particularly important for Black women who are the most educated group in the United States, but who often experience student loan debt uniquely as the breadwinners of their families.

Advanced degrees are needed for the advancement of society, but the financial burden of public and private higher education loans restrict borrowers long after they have repaid their original debt. Designed to fail, student loan debt is harder to manage than a mortgage, and without relief, will haunt borrowers for the rest of their lives.

While student loan relief and forgiveness has stalled, it remains possible through the revised Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, more simplified income-driven repayment plans, and a one-time debt relief plan that can result to up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness—benefitting about 40 million borrowers.

Longer term remedies and policies are needed to protect future students from being punished with permanent debt. This includes free and affordable college tuition, financial literacy and loan transparency.

Student loans should live up to their promises and possibilities.

I’m Robin Boylorn, until next time…keep it crunk!

Written by Robin Boylorn
Edited by Brittany Young


Robin M. Boylorn is a college professor, founding member of the Crunk Feminist Collective, and host of the award-winning Crunk Culture commentary.