Opinion | Should Student Debt Be Canceled?

Readers discuss fairness and the racial wealth gap in debating whether this would be the right move.

To the Editor:

Re “Cancel Student Debt to Shrink the Racial Wealth Gap” (Op-Ed, Feb. 3):

Professors Naomi Zewde and Darrick Hamilton propose that President Biden should “cancel all federal student debt through executive action.” Although the president is not likely to do that, he did propose a $10,000 loan forgiveness program based on congressional action. I hope that none of this happens.

Across-the-board loan forgiveness is not very fair. For one thing, it offers nothing to those who did not attend college. It offers less than nothing to those who sacrificed mightily to pay off large student loans. Worse, it sends cash to all borrowers, independent of the borrowers’ need.

But my dissent is more fundamental. There is a finite amount of money that taxpayers can provide. Especially with racial justice in mind, extending Covid relief, improving public K-12 education, subsidizing mass transit and increasing the supply of affordable housing all make a much stronger claim for support.

Joseph Bernstein
Haverford, Pa.

To the Editor:

Professors Naomi Zewde and Darrick Hamilton argue that canceling student debt would not only shrink the burden faced by millions of young Americans but would, at the same time, reduce the racial wealth divide. Student debt cancellation is a policy that benefits all groups but disproportionately those, like African-Americans, who suffer a wide wealth gap.

Tuition-free public higher education would be another step toward reducing both debt accumulation and the wealth gap — not to mention the deeply divisive diploma divide. Indeed, government programs that assure affordable health care, housing and child care — programs that other wealthy capitalist democracies provide — would make the possession of wealth itself less significant.

Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg
New Canaan, Conn.
The writer is chair of the National Jobs for All Network.

To the Editor:

Forgiving student debt is a free handout that would only reap resentment from anyone regardless of race who doesn’t benefit from such a policy. Setting this precedent could give growth to a sense of entitlement by future generations. Instead, why not institute a program to fast-track loan repayment via serving the country through a year of public service or enlisting in the National Guard?

All races are struggling with immeasurable college debt, and a solid map to repayment with dignity intact is desperately needed.

Laurence P. Mitchell
New York

To the Editor:

While I sympathize with closing the wealth gap, I can’t help feeling as if I am being punished. I am an African-American who went into debt to pay off my college loans. My kids had to go to state schools to keep the cost of their education down.

How do you close my racial wealth gap? Will you send me a check for $10,000 for each of the children I put through college? Instead of canceling student debt, provide reparations for descendants of slaves or make community college free.

Michele Brown
Columbia, Md.

Site Index

Site Information Navigation

Source: Read Full Article