General Question

Caravanfan's avatar

How do you feel about Sanders'/Warren's (and probably others') proposal to wipe out college debt?

Asked by Caravanfan (7670points) June 26th, 2019

And free college.
This one was a bit hard to Google as it popped up to a bunch of candidate donation pages, but I found one story that outlines proposals of all the candidates.

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53 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

To me, it reeks of empty campaign promises, so I put no stock in them. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

zenvelo's avatar

I am very much in favor. It is called investment in human capital, and was recognized a hundred years ago as beneficial to business, to the economy, and to society to have a well educated workforce.

hmmmmmm's avatar

I support Sanders’ proposal to eliminate all college debt, and I’m opposed to Warren’s means-testing nonsense.

Caravanfan's avatar

@hmmmmmm So you don’t see it as a subsidy to rich people getting paid to send their kids to elite private schools?

hmmmmmm's avatar

^ Correct. There are reasons the left opposes means testing, including that they are the most vulnerable and resented programs. Universal programs are always > means-testing. Always. And in this case, I don’t care that my taxes go to the few rich people who have student loans from elite schools. The fact is, student loans destroy the lives of poor and working people far more than the wealthy. And eliminating all college debt is a stimulus that works for everyone.

hmmmmmm's avatar

Why is this question in meta?

Caravanfan's avatar

@hmmmmmm That was my mistake. I thought I had put it in General. I’ll flag it.

And terms of your answer to my question, fair enough. Should the students who have worked to get their student loans repaid be reimbursed? (I have a lot of young medical colleagues who have had $200K of debt and have worked to pay off a bunch of that money)

hmmmmmm's avatar

@Caravanfan: “Should the students who have worked to get their student loans repaid be reimbursed?”

No. I don’t think so. I think an attempt should be made to move forward by pumping money into the economy by eliminating current debt.

My wife and I are 47 years old and we have finally almost paid off our student loans ($457 left!).

Caravanfan's avatar

@hmmmmmm Congratulations! I know exactly how that feels. :-)

Let’s take this a step further and go into fantasy land. What about other types of debt? Housing, for instance. Should mortgage debt be forgiven? Or should it just stay regarding education?

hmmmmmm's avatar

Well this is specifically about a crisis of education and student debt, so I think we can say that housing debt is not something that needs to be brought into discussion. College costs have skyrocketed and people are graduating in so much debt that they will likely be retiring with it. This also carries over to housing, as many people graduating today will never be able to borrow to buy a house. They’ll never be able to do many things, like have children, etc.

That said, I would very much support programs that guarantee housing as a right.

Yellowdog's avatar

They aren’t making campaign promises anymore. They’re making bribes.

rockfan's avatar

Empty campaign promises??

Uhh, have you researched Sanders career in politics? He never makes “empty” campaign promises. He fights for the things he believes in.

ragingloli's avatar

2 decades of pointless war that wasted trillions and lined the pockets of the military industrial complex.
Yearly fucktons of money flushed down the drain of a bloated defence apparatus.
Tax cuts and corporate subsidies that benefit only the upper echelon.
Bailouts for banks as a reward for the crisis the banks caused.
Business as usual.
But forgiving the debt of university students? BLASPHEMY! MADNESS!

Yellowdog's avatar

@ragingloli we’re not talking about the idea itself. We’re calling out whether they can do it, will do it, or even if it CAN be done.

Suppose someone were to promise a basic income for all Americans that we would never have to worry about life’s basic necessities such as shelter and food. (come to think of it, that kind of is like what many are promising). It scares me that there is no safety net. If you lose your job, for instance, you really are out on the street once you run through your savings. To get public assistance, EBT, or even emergency assistance, can take a few months up to two or three years and sometimes attorneys are necessary. What do you do in the meantime? Starve? Die?

Well, such campaign promises might be extremely attractive and seem very doable. But can they really be done, especially by those promising them? I’m sure MOST politicians would like to arrange these things. That doesn’t mean that they can, and some are only making, like I said, bribes that they really don’t intend to fulfill. They just want to get elected.

Caravanfan's avatar

As a parent who is about to send his child to college next year the discussion is interesting to me, and the idea is a bit annoying. I’ve worked for the last 18 years to put money away in her college fund, saving, not spending too much money, making investments, etc. As a result, because my kid is going to a state school, we will not need to take out any loans. But it took nearly two decades of planning.

What annoys me a little is that there are people who have not been as financially frugal as we have and are planning on having their kids get loans. They could have afforded it but just didn’t. And according to the Sanders Plan (as I understand it) those kids could get their education paid for. What annoys me, is why should their education get paid for and mine not, when I was responsible? Why did I bother?

I totally get Tom’s point of view, and I even agree with much of it. It doesn’t change the fact that the idea gives me a bit of indigestion.

ragingloli's avatar

So you are jealous.

Caravanfan's avatar

@ragingloli Sort of, but not really. I have the means to pay for it as she’s going to a state school so it’s fine—I’m fine, and I’ve planned for it. And if people do not have the means to pay back a loan, it’s fine. Unlike Tom, I’m sort of in the Warren camp of needs based camp. I don’t think well-off people should get money they don’t need and the money should be placed in health care. Tom would say, “why not both?”

stanleybmanly's avatar

Its about time the student loan scam is revealed for what it is actually about and that is is another mechanism to transfer wealth from the population to the banks with absolutely no risk to themselves. The risks are assumed by the taxpayers, but the banks reap the profits. It’s corporate welfare on an unimaginable scale.

kritiper's avatar

It’s a pipe dream. After all, what are they thinking? That money is plentiful as hell as long as the mint can make it?

Response moderated (Spam)
si3tech's avatar

Bad idea. They signed a contract, they need to pay it off. We have way too much removal of logical consequences. And way too many entitlements including for non-citizens.

Yellowdog's avatar

If everything were free, there would be more pollution from dust kicked up from the ground, from all the people running to get the free stuff.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Nutty. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Empty Promise. Bullshit.

Hasn’t a chance of ever passing Congress.

Zaku's avatar

I think wiping out college loan debt would be wonderful.

Of course there will be opposition from most current people in Congress – - – because most of the people in Congress are corrupt and beholden to big banking interests etc – - – so how about the people change that?

Or is this not a democracy? Or right, it’s effectively not. Until and unless people stop repeating their programmed thinking and make some actual changes.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Caravanfan Should public K-12 education be free to the kids of wealthy parents? Why?

What about libraries? Access to police and fire protection?

Kropotkin's avatar

Good idea. Education shouldn’t be commodified, nor should it be used to exploit people for profit or to put people into a form of debt servitude.

Of course, those who are profiting from the status quo will squeal and sow their propaganda, much of which is already internalised by ordinary people who don’t even have a vested interest in the scam that the current system is—like a few in the comments above.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would like it to extrend to Canada and the rest of the world.

I wonder where the cost would come from?

Maybe it could be funded the same way high school is?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Tell this to the parents who worked two jobs to put their kids through school so they would not be saddled with debt. I worked full-time to get through without debt while my peers who took crazy loans partied. Sorry, Bernie can fuck right off on the debt forgiveness. Are they going to reimburse people who paid it? Thought not. If you take debt you take personal responsibility for it. Period. I’m all in favor of making higher education free or at least more affordable though. You can’t wave a magic wand and forgive this debt anyway. That’s not how it works.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Where is the money going to come from to pay off the trillions of dollars of student loan debt?

Nowhere. It doesn’t exist. Unless they raise your taxes and my taxes.

This idea is dead on arrival.

Yellowdog's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 ‘s suggestion is a good one. Why can’t BASIC two- and four-year colleges, maybe at least the core two years of a Bachelors degree or the full two years of an associate degree or feeder school—why can’t basic college, under most conditions all four years, be funded the same way high school is? You simply go to college after high school.

Shit, when I was in High School, even if you HAD money, a lot of colleges wouldn’t take you unless you were in a top percentile of your graduating class and the college thought you were a good fit, I didn’t apply for a state school for a couple of years because I didn’t think I’d be accepted. The College-o-Rama we attended in high school, NONE of those snooty mostly private colleges would take me.

They don’t have to forgive anything. Just make a way for the future.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Same problem, @Yellowdog – who do you think pays for the K-12 school system? I do through property taxes. Places with nice homes and lots of business have higher property taxes and better schools. Places with lousy housing and low taxes have shitty schools.

The way that we fund schools in the US is a disgrace. ANy civilized country does a better job than the property tax method.

That is a horrible idea to stretch it to universities.

hmmmmmm's avatar

@elbanditoroso: “Where is the money going to come from to pay off the trillions of dollars of student loan debt?

Nowhere. It doesn’t exist. Unless they raise your taxes and my taxes.

This idea is dead on arrival.”

From the campaign site

“To pay for this, we will impose a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy a decade ago. This Wall Street speculation tax will raise $2.4 trillion over the next ten years. It works by placing a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades – 50 cents on every $100 of stock – a 0.1 percent fee on bond trades, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivative trades.”

Yellowdog's avatar

Thanks, @elbanditoroso Great answer. (seriously, not facetiously [ fuh-see-shuh s ly]

Demosthenes's avatar

So I wonder if a university education became “free” that it would carry the same societal weight? Right now you need a four-year degree to do practically anything worthwhile. Would that still be true if college were available to everyone for free (obviously you still need to be accepted, but to remove the financial aspect from public universities would alter higher education fundamentally)? I don’t know much about how it is in other nations, but I’d be interested in a comparison.

@elbanditoroso Yeah what’s next? University districts? If you live in the East Bay, you go to UC Berkeley…lol

hmmmmmm's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me: “Tell this to the parents who worked two jobs to put their kids through school so they would not be saddled with debt. I worked full-time to get through without debt while my peers who took crazy loans partied.”

I can’t tell if you’re making the case for…

a) No new programs that would benefit people in ways that have not yet existed.


b) The case for reparations.

If it’s (a), you’re being very unreasonable. When the New Deal was passed, would it make sense to argue against unemployment benefits and social security because previous workers didn’t have access to these? We’ll join the rest of the civilized world and have Medicare for All soon. When this happens, will we reject it out of hand because we’ve had to pay for healthcare in the past?

Additionally, your stories of hard work to pay off your loans ignore the reality that you have benefited from having been born at a time when it required significantly-less debt. The cost of education has increased far greater than income, and you are not acknowledging the advantage that you (and I) had.

if it’s (b), let’s reboot reparations talk sometime. :)

hmmmmmm's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me: “You can’t wave a magic wand and forgive this debt anyway. That’s not how it works.”

Correct. That’s why nobody has proposed this.

Caravanfan's avatar

I’ll read through the rest of this tomorrow. Good points all.

@gorillapaws Just to respond to your question to me, the answer is, of course K-12 should be free to wealthy parents. My question is let’s say a wealthy parent wants to send their kid to USC which costs more than three times as much as UCLA, or Sacramento State, which is a fraction of that, should the government fund that high private school cost just because the kid wants to go there? Because a lot of student debt is from expensive private institutions.

Zaku's avatar

Regardless of whether it’s proposed or not, debt forgiveness is a possibility without anyone paying it off. It happens all the time in cases of bankruptcy and uncollectable debts.

When an organization holds a debt, it’s an investment, usually calculated to make great profits even after the analysts have calculated how much is actually going to be repaid or not and when. What happens if more debts get cancelled than expected, is that financial institutions make less profit.

And guess what has owned most of the wealth on the planet for quite some time? A network of international banks.

If you think there’s some universal principle that a terrible financial vacuum that would necessarily be created by forgiving student loans, you’re parroting part of the game the banking industry has talked most people into believing is real.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@hmmmmmm I’m not making any argument for reparations and I’m not in favor of debt forgiveness. I am in favor of making college affordable and I would like some of the draconian stipulations on student loan debt treated like regular debt. It should be bankruptable like everything else. I would also be in favor of eliminating the interest on student loan debt including credit for interest paid. Going forward I would like to see more strict limits on how much student loan debt a person can take and consideration of the probability that their course of study will allow them to pay it back just like with other debt.
Student loans are vicious predatory lending.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The point is that a college education is now the assumed requirement for any chance at a middle class existence. It is now the equivalent of the high school diploma in my youth. It is truly unfortunate that the enlightened attitude regarding this subject which permeated this country in the days of my youth has been displaced by a scheme to enrich banks and load kids with debt.

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t read answers above.

I don’t think free tuition for all is realistic.

I am in favor of lowering tuition. Tuition has increased at a ridiculous rate. I have a hard time believing it can’t be lowered. Some states still have reasonably priced tuition.

I think tuition should be lower, and if the schools are charging less then yes I do realize it will benefit all students at all incomes. If I’m wrong and there really isn’t any room to charge less tuition then the government would have to subsidize the schools, which I like better than this loan mess we are in.

I do think school loans should be able to be refinanced. Some of the loans that were issued were terrible. I am not for total loan forgiveness.

Above I said I’m ok with all social classes benefiting from overall lower tuition, but I also think at the poorest levels of the social strata we should be giving scholarships or similar for those who perform. Any young adult who wants to go to college and is academically inclined should not miss out on going because of money. We shouldn’t let these people fall through the cracks.

LostInParadise's avatar

In terms of employment, a college degree is what a high school degree was not that long ago. To have people being employable in the past, it was in everyone’s best interest to have public funding of K-12. It is now in society’s best interest to also have public funding for college.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Caravanfan IMO this should apply to public education and not private education. I do think that canceling student debt would be the largest economic stimulus this country has ever seen though. So that’s a practical reason to move forward despite having concerns about the proposal on principle.

@JLeslie ”...I also think at the poorest levels of the social strata we should be giving scholarships or similar for those who perform…”

In my opinion, the way to structure investments in the people (such as education) is by guaranteeing equal coverage to everyone on the demand side (regardless of income). We should account for varying incomes via progressive taxation on the supply side, instead of trying to mess with pricing adjustments on the demand side, it’s cleaner and will create healthier incentives.

Rich people can become poor, the kids of rich people may not have parents who are willing to pay for their college, the kids of rich people could be estranged from their parents, poor kids could become rich (though not often), etc. IMO it makes sense to guarantee tuition-free public education (including pre-k) to all Americans up-to a bachlor’s degree (for those who qualify academically).

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It could be that we also need to address the decline in the quality of education. High school was pretty close to a waste of time we’re it not for the vocational classes I took.
I also think that certain degree programs need to limit admissions to match the job market.

Yellowdog's avatar

I don’t think I learned anything in high school except for/from giving book reports.

My High School had a planetarium and radio station I took advantage of
I did very poorly in school, after that went to a technical school that had an open-door policu and went to college and grad school after that.

It can remain expensive IMHO but a sliding scale needs to be applied. I was able to get financial aid and a campus job. It should be POSSIBLE for everyone, whatever it takes.

Caravanfan's avatar

@gorillapaws Sanders and Warren proposing what you are proposing and wiping out debt for only public education and not private education? And is it any public school, and for in state and out of state?

For example, the cost to attend UCLA is about 35,000 a year in state (realistically it’s about 10K more than that, but it’s ballpark correct). There is an out of state supplemental tuition of about 30K per year.

Does that mean that if someone is coming from, say Nevada and wants to go to UCLA, do they get their out-of-state tuition fee paid for?

Jaxk's avatar

I’m not sure any of this addresses the root cause of the problem. Currently student loans are plentiful so what ever a college wants to charge is doable, just rack up more loans. If we pay off all the debt, we’re rewarding the irresponsible use of loans and penalizing those that used better judgement. Also we haven’t addressed those that want to go to Harvard or Stanford and will still need student loans to do so. If we zero out those that have loans now, do we do it again in a few years? Also since college is now paid for by the deep pockets of government how do we keep costs at some reasonable level. Free college sounds good but nothing is really free, it has to be paid for by someone.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Jaxk – it isn’t paid for “by the deep pockets of the government”. Get serious.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Well, I agree giving very reasonable tuition to everyone, including the rich. I’m only saying for the poorest among us we go even further. That was the set up in NY when my parents went to college. Colleges and universities back then had reasonable tuition in general, and also in NYC there were very good city colleges that were free, but they didn’t just let anyone go to those schools, you had to apply and get in like other good schools. Most city schools that I know of today anyone who lives in the city gets in. When I went to community college I didn’t have to apply, I just registered.

If college cost a few thousand a year I think most middle class families can afford it, but poor families that literally live check to check can’t.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie Why should/shouldn’t the middle class have to pay a “reasonable” amount for k-12 public education? What about a reasonable fee to use the public library, or to get the police’s help with a crime? We could have a sliding scale of cost based on the income of the victim. If the daughter of a billionaire is date-raped then her family has to put up a few million to prosecute the rapist, but if the victim is poor than the police will prosecute him for a nominal fee?

I hope you can see how absurd that idea sounds…

Caravanfan's avatar

@gorillapaws I don’t disagree with your post except to correct one small point. The police don’t prosecute—they arrest and collect evidence for the crime. The district attorney offices prosecutes based upon the evidence the police department (or FBI or whatever) collects. The prosecutors are all public employees funded by the county, state, or federal government and nobody can hire a prosecutor. You CAN hire a defense lawyer (as OJ did) if you do not want a public defender (although the public defenders I know are outstanding).

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Fundamentally I agree with you, but I think realistically, a compromise is more easily achieved, and still helps a lot of people. Our situation K-12 is different than countries that have free college education. More needs to be fixed than just trying for free tertiary education. A lot of children show up to college with 8th grade English and math skills.

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