President Joe Biden recently announced he intends to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for borrowers earning up to $125,000 per year.
This is an obvious play for youth and minority votes.
The White House is pitching student loan forgiveness to the Black community as advancing racial equity.
Let’s be clear: One-time debt forgiveness-or more as NAACP President Derrick Johnson demands-will not set future generations of minority students on a path to greater economic mobility.
Instead, the left’s student debt cancellation is a wealth transfer from hardworking minorities with no degrees to high-earning, highly-educated (white) elites.
The wealth gap is large and this forgiveness plan will ensure that it stays that way.
The winners from Biden’s debt forgiveness plan are generally debt-saddled but highly-educated individuals with good job prospects and big paychecks.
The most educated people in America are a small but debt-heavy group.
Just 14% of adults age 25 or older hold graduate degrees, yet, they owe 56% of the outstanding education debt.
Penn-Wharton’s budget modeling finds that just 12% of debt relief from Biden’s loan forgiveness would be targeted to the bottom income quintile of borrowers but about 70% would accrue to the top 60% of the income distribution.
Demographic data on student loan holders highlight the dramatic differences between the races. Black bachelor’s degree holders have an average of $52,000 in student loan debt.
However, nearly half (45%) of their student debt is from graduate school.
While you will find Black and minority professionals among loan forgiveness lottery winners, many are not.
Instead, Black bus drivers and salon workers — who may not have a degree — will fund the debt forgiveness of doctors and psychiatrists of other races.
Such unfairness won’t close racial wealth gaps but ensures they continue.
For Blacks and minorities, this student debt forgiveness plan is a lifeline unattached to a lifeboat. They rightly view education as a key to accessing greater job prospects and economic mobility.
However, even Black degree holders are strongly pessimistic about the value of educational loans. Just under half of them say the loans will improve life opportunities and 61% disagree that student loans increase their ability to build wealth.
They also do not buy the argument that student debt contributes to racial equality.
A whopping two-thirds of them regret the loans, viewing them as “unpayable” and “not worth it.” Some personal responsibility is in order.
Educational and occupational choices may explain why Blacks and minorities struggle to repay their loans despite benefitting from the increased human capital that (higher) degrees confer.
Black students are less likely to pursue majors that lead to lucrative careers.
A 2016 Georgetown University study found that Black students only accounted for 8% of general engineering majors, 7% of mathematics majors, 5% of computer engineering majors, and 7% of finance and marketing majors.
Conversely, they were overrepresented in careers that serve the community but tend to be low-paying such as human services and community organization (20%) and social work (19%).
Even within fields, such as health, black students were clustered in the lowest-earning majors of health and medical administrative services (21%), compared to only 6% who were in the higher-earning major of pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and administration.
An attraction to helping careers explains why Black women are overrepresented in service jobs, the lowest-paying occupational groups, but are underrepresented in high-paying occupations.
Sharing firsthand knowlege, many of this writer’s friends are proud to hold multiple degrees in social work and education. They are committed to making the Black community stronger, but as they’ve learned when venturing into the labor force, that commitment comes at a price.
As society pushed the every-kid-to-college mantra, educators convinced high school students and their families, especially minorities, to ignore the price-tag.
Government student loans would take care of the costs.
Consequently, 50.8% of Black students use student loans, greater than whites and Asians, and they are the most likely to use federal loans.
More energy should be spent educating our young people in high school on the paychecks they will earn from future majors and careers as compared to the monthly debt payment on student loans.
They also need to know that there are alternative funding sources for education such as income-sharing agreements with future employers.
At a minimum, we should stop giving colleges and universities a blank check signed by the taxpayers that entices them to hike tuition every year.
Absent underlying reforms to controlling the rising costs of college tuition, in a few years, we will be right back to square one with student loan debt.
On top of that, the next generation will be clamoring for their own forgiveness.