According to the founding documents of our nation all humans are born with the inalienable right to pursue happiness, so then why is our country hellbent on denying citizens the ability to climb out of generational poverty, higher incomes or even the chance at higher education?
On Aug. 24 President Joe Biden announced that the government would forgive up to $10,000 in student loans and up to $20,000 in loans for Pell Grant recipients. There is no doubt that this debt forgiveness will allow so many Americans to worry a little less and finally get started with their lives, but Biden’s solution is a band-aid on a severed limb. In a few years, a new generation of Americans will be in the exact same place that Americans a few weeks ago were.
During the pandemic, 56% of college students said that they could no longer afford to pay tuition, according to a survey by One Class. At public four-year colleges, tuition has increased 258% since the 91-92 school year, according to data from The College Board, and in a report by The Institute for College Access and Success 62% of college graduates had student loan debt. Higher education is not affordable to most Americans without taking on debt.
The United States of America has decided that elementary through high school education is important enough to be, not just accessible, but mandatory for every child. Whenever a person could get a job that could sustain an entire family with just a high school diploma this worked out well, but now even a college degree is no guarantee that a person can get a job that allows them to live even somewhat comfortably. If a person needs a bachelor’s to be considered for an entry-level job it is time that higher education is guaranteed to everyone in the United States.
Colleges and universities should not be in the money-making business. Their place is to give people the education that they need to be able to contribute positively to our society and our economy. People cannot possibly break the cycle of poverty if they are guaranteed to be paying off their student loans with a job that barely pays above minimum wage and requires a college education. Loan forgiveness is a start. It is a great relief to so many people, but without addressing the fundamental problem of the U.S college system the next generation of college graduates will be just as saddled with debt. There will be no real change, the money keeps flowing and the poor are still poor.