College debt

College debt cartoon 

Let’s set the record straight: universities are outrageously expensive (looking at you, LSU). In response to such abnormal prices, Democratic presidential candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have released plans to the public to forgive student loan debt nation-wide. While something should be done to combat the rising prices of student loans, there is a myriad of reasons why student loan forgiveness is a bad idea.

To begin, Sen. Warren’s plan has a price tag of $1.25 trillion, while Sen. Sanders’ plan is estimated to cost around $2.2 trillion. The Democratic party could not even get the 2020 Iowa caucus to run successfully, so it is worth questioning if their leading candidates can be trusted with the much more expensive and complicated task of managing student loan debt.

The next relevant question to be asked is how this can be afforded.

Both Sanders and Warren explain that the debt forgiveness will be “forgiven.” But in all fairness, debt forgiveness means a debt transfer, either to the taxpayer or the national deficit, which inevitably is paid for by the taxpayer. If such a plan transfers over to the national debt, it will mean the largest immediate growth in the national deficit. Furthermore, if the debt forgiveness is put on the taxpayers, it would be a serious issue.

Sanders and Warren are quick to state that the national debt can be paid for by the “Billionaire Class.” However, both candidates hold a serious misunderstanding about the richest people of the nation. In the U.S., the combined net worth of all 2,200 billionaires is $9.1 trillion.

This does not mean that a billionaire’s salary is in the billion-dollar range, but rather that all their individually incurred assets, including cars, homes and stocks combined reach over $9 trillion. Expecting the “Billionaire Class” to pay for even Warren’s cheaper plan would pull more from the aggregated monetary well than could be replenished.

This means that student debt forgiveness would either be a temporary feature, bankrupt the country, or the bill would be placed on average-income Americans. This of course assumes that billionaires and millionaires do not immediately flee the country as soon as a Democrat is elected.

Next it is important to understand that the concept of student debt forgiveness is an inevitable tax on the lower economic classes of the U.S. Those who hold the most in student loan debts are usually the ones who are making the most income, such as doctors, lawyers and advanced engineers.

Therefore, those who voluntarily chose to refrain from college or who chose to pursue less higher education, and thereby make less money, would be the ones forced to pay for the education pursued by those who make significantly more money and have acquired much more education. A student debt forgiveness plan could be accurately described as welfare for the wealthy.

For the billionaires and lower income readers, you can relax in the fact that a student debt forgiveness plan could likely be unconstitutional.

According to the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot take away any private property without just compensation or without a public need. Since private banks would not be compensated under Warren or Sanders’ plans, and since student debt forgiveness is a private issue, the two plans would likely be unconstitutional.

Regardless, Senator Warren’s campaign argues that forgiving student debt would allow for expenditure in other areas of the market, such as homes. To point out the logical fallacy, how can those who failed to invest in an education that would lead to employment, or failed to pay off student loan be deemed capable of paying off a mortgage?

To be an adult, one is expected to pay off the debts they incur. If one is going to get an education, it is recommended that they get one that can pay off their education loan. Warren’s plan would only transfer the loan crisis from education to other markets.

Another common argument is the United States is unique in its loan crisis and that many European countries pay for their students’ education. They also explain that leading a life with no debt is a free life. Firstly, leading a life with no debt is a care-free life. Personal liberty comes when one masters their own responsibilities.

Furthermore, many European countries having a tracking program, which follows the testing and capabilities of students and pays for the student’s education if the country expects to reap the maximum benefit from said education. In other words, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Poland and Bulgaria are monitoring their students, and are not necessarily subsidizing many philosophy majors as much as they are footing the bill for future doctors and engineers.

Additionally, it is worth noting that the logic behind student debt forgiveness is unreasonable. Getting a university education is an individual choice, not an obligation. In the end, a university degree is an investment in oneself, with the student volunteering to take on any loans necessary to finish their education.

It is not the responsibility of those who did not choose to send a student to a university to pay for the education of the student who attends. Rather, it is the duty of the student to get an education with a market demand and to pay their own loans back. Just because some rich people can afford to pay for others’ education does not mean they are obligated to do so.

Once more, let’s set the record straight. The main issue in this country is that society has mandated that anyone who believes themselves to be smart needs to attend a university and expect a six-figure salary upon graduation. This is false. Not everyone needs to attend a university to be successful or intelligent. And of those careers requiring a degree, certain universities, such as Louisiana State University, are not the practical choice.

For Louisiana students, the University is not always the practical choice for many degrees such as engineering, nursing or education, when other universities across the state have better and cheaper educational opportunities. For example, many in the field of engineering will advocate for students to attend Louisiana Tech University instead of Louisiana State University, since Tech offers a cheaper education with better salary opportunities.

It would be a shame to bash college debt forgiveness without laying out a plan on how to get a college education without overloading debt. For the senior in high school, there are many opportunities. The first and least common is to be a star in a sport or academia, as many schools offer generous scholarships for those star students.

However, for those able-bodied students who are not stars in the classroom or field, the military offers many non-combative careers that can offer specialized training and full college tuition, with some veterans receiving living allowances. If one does not wish to or physically cannot join the military, they can easily receive community college training, taking classes that can be transferred to different state universities, working preliminary jobs and then saving money to finish an education at a state university.

Furthermore, one can easily get rid of debt by graduating with a highly demanded degree such as coding, and paying off this debt with one's salary. Finally, similarly to Bill Gates, one can easily just not go to college, get creative, start a business and never have to pay off debts.

Brett Landry is a 21-year-old political communications senior from Bayou Petit Caillou, Louisiana. 

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