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Forgiving Student Loans – The Right Thing to do?

Student loan forgiveness

President Biden has proposed the elimination of up to $10,000 in student loans. Others have suggested that the government should forgive as much as $50,000. Is this the right thing to do?

Student Loans
Student loans are owed by people from across the economic spectrum

One camp says these students made their bed, they should lie in it. The other bemoans the high cost of college and says education should be free.

It’s easy to see both sides of the issue, but maybe there’s another solution. One that might be acceptable by both the right and the left.

Community Service

Now I don’t get into politics much, but this idea hit me earlier, and Biden touched on it during his campaign for President: Let’s have people work off their student loans by performing community service instead of these services being funded by taxpayers..

See, a pure forgiveness of any amount of debt would be unfair to those who either didn’t take out student loans, or to those who did and paid them off. Having people work for this benefit helps to justify it. While this does not return the money to the general fund, it in a way redirects the money to help in communities, replacing what the taxpayers pay.

As we get older, we understand that the things we worked for are more cherished than those that were given to us. And as a parent I tried to instill that ethic into my children. We can channel that thought and have people work off their student loans instead of giving them the debt relief.

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

That famous line came from President Kennedy’s inauguration speech on January 21, 1961. We can build on that to solve this problem of crushing debt many people are struggling with.

From Investopedia: “More than half of all American students now have to go into debt to get through college, and their average student loan debt topped $37,500 in 2020. Collectively, they owe nearly $1.6 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

What if we, say, proposed eliminating $25 of student loans for every hour a person worked in a sanctioned community service job? Someone working ten hours a week for 50 weeks could see $12,500 of debt eliminated, and the community would receive 500 hours of service from that someone.

Types of community service

Those in higher income professions, and who owe the higher percentage of student loans could benefit the community greatly.

Food being served at a communitycenter
Food being served at a community center
  • Medical professionals (doctors, dentists, nurses, mental health professionals, etc.) could volunteer at community or senior centers, homeless shelters.
  • The same goes for lawyers who could help those with legal issues but can’t afford to hire an attorney.
  • Accountants could offer free tax preparation and advice.
  • Business professionals could help people with job consultation, resume writing, and general help in finding a job.

Those in jobs that are not considered “professional” can also benefit the community.

  • Food service (homeless shelters, senior centers, meals-on-wheels, etc.).
  • Drivers to help people get to the doctor, to a job interview, or just to the grocery store.
  • General maintenance and repair, yard work and janitorial in the centers mentioned above.
  • Help in free day care centers (Wait! What? – More on this later)
  • Assistance with minor car repair and maintenance.
  • Technology assistance.

Al of this could benefit both the community, and help with student loan debt. And it might just be palatable to both sides.

Now I know there would have to be some sort of agency charged with the duty of tracking this, and the various community services would be responsible for reporting to it so this would be a daunting task, but I see it as a way to help communities while at the same time allowing people to work down student loan debt.

Free Child Care

This is something I came up with many years ago, but just couldn’t figure out how it could fit.

Many people, mainly women, are not able to find and keep steady employment because of the cost and availability of child care. What if there were free, 24 hour basic child care available to those people?

Children at a child care center
Struggling parents could benefit from free child care.

My original thoughts would be how expensive this would be to the taxpayer, but when I started thinking about the student loan issue it hit me that we could combine these two problems into one solution.

People who are saddled with student loan debt could volunteer at the free child care clinics. The parents get the benefit of care so they could work, and the former students would get their debt reduced. Win-win for all.

Yes there would need to be background checks on the volunteers, and at least one certified child care person would need to be present. Maybe teachers who are needing to payoff debt could fill that role.

The united states split in left and right halves
The U.S. needs to be truly united

Balance between the right and left

The bottom line is, these two plans should be able to appease both the left, who want the taxpayers to foot the bill for student loan forgiveness, and the right, who want those who owe this debt to pay on it themselves, even if it takes the rest of their lives. Plus those who volunteer for community service might just have a positive impact on someone’s life.

And it enables people to move off of welfare and be able to support themselves, which the right should love.


Hold On!

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