What You Should Know

In recent years, calls for student loan forgiveness and “free college” have gotten louder in response to the very real crisis of student debt. While debt incurred for higher education is a growing problem for an entire generation of Americans, loan forgiveness ultimately does not solve the underlying problems in the university sector, lets colleges off the hook, and instead shifts costs to taxpayers, many of whom will never see the benefit of a college education.

Federally-backed student loans were meant to ensure that everyone would have the opportunity to pursue higher education if he or she had the academic qualifications. In reality, it’s fueled a credentialing boom that has made life harder for the two-thirds of Americans without a college degree, made the university sector rich through ever-escalating tuition costs, and left millions of Millennial and Gen Z students in crippling debt.

Promises of student loan forgiveness sound compassionate, but they statistically benefit the wealthy at the expense of Americans of lesser means, and make the underlying college cost problem worse. Instead of looking to bail out universities with student loan forgiveness, we should be holding them to account for the success of their graduates and the value of the diplomas they’re awarding.

Universities currently bear no responsibility for the success of their graduates, incentivizing them to treat every high school graduate as a walking blank check from the federal government. Universities should be held accountable if the degrees they’re granting do not allow many graduates to pay off their loans.