By Priscilla Mensah
The burden that is student loans has been a topic of discourse for some time now. It seems as if student loans, and specifically whether to cancel them, has also been quite a polarizing issue. As polarizing as it has been, however, large numbers of lawmakers support canceling student loans. The latest effort spearheaded by lawmakers looks promising, as it involves a coalition of eight attorney generals across the US all urging President Biden to cancel student loans.
Led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, this latest proposal calls for President Biden to cancel student loans for all student loan holders in the United States, emphasis on all. The salience of such a move cannot be understated as it would mean that millions of Americans will no longer be encumbered by high interest rates and/or monthly payments that they have no choice but to make.
If this proposal – as put forth by this coalition of attorney generals with James at the helm – successfully reaches Biden, and then prompts him to act in the affirmative, it is also likely that the credit scores of many student loan borrowers will improve and grant them more opportunities for productive investments, which would in turn result in an overall improved economy.
Moreover, if student loan debt is canceled, borrowers will no longer be prey to predatory schemes that purport to cancel debt without making good on the promise. I know a little something about this, as I was scammed out of a good deal of money by a similar scheme. Clearly, then, the benefits to canceling student loans are numerous and are something that Biden should take into consideration as he ponders his next steps on the issue.
While I am honestly not entirely sure if this latest move will be successful – especially given the animus that many prominent Republican lawmakers have very publicly had towards the idea of canceling student loans – there is a great part of me that still has high hopes for its triumph. That this monumental proposal is fronted by NY AG Letitia James is one reason why I am, albeit cautiously optimistic about its potential success.
James has proven to be a more than capable leader, who has already had considerable success litigating cases on behalf of the state of New York. Furthermore, James is well respected, so she will probably be listened to in a way that the average American fighting to cancel student loans would unfortunately not be listened to even with student loan forgiveness being as popular as it is. It’s important to note that those with student loans themselves, such as college students, are now facing an economic environment that is not as hospitable as they were made to believe it would be in school.
If James, and others who are similarly fighting to cancel student loans debt on more of the grassroots level, are successful, it would mark a major turning point. A shift like this would almost certainly move us closer to living in a truly equitable society that allows for all people to flourish.
With all the income, health, and other interrelated disparities present in this country, our nation could definitely benefit from a policy that would cancel student loan debt for all borrowers, thus encouraging financial freedom and equality for all Americans and not just a select few. Once people have more financial leeway, it is quite probable that they can devote more of their time and their funds for other things, including basic living expenses such as the rising cost of rent and/or mortgage payments.
As effective as forgiving student loans would be for millions of Americans, it still may face an uphill battle. For instance, there are detractors of student loan forgiveness who, very visibly and vocally, claim that forgiving student loans would be too expensive and thus a waste of taxpayers dollars.
These detractors hold such positioning despite the fact that tax-payer dollars have been spent on far less productive things – think the F-35 Fighter jet. Notwithstanding this, I’m hopeful for the future of student loan forgiveness and I very much like the direction that we seem to be heading in.