Student Loan Forgiveness Increases the Class Divide
"solving" one problem increases another
Sit back and imagine, for a time, making the choice of choosing either not to attend college or of dropping out. Contrary to what most people have come to believe, these can often be responsible choices. And as you imagine these scenarios, let’s assume you’re not dropping out or flat-out not attending because you’re more comfortable playing video games in your parents basement, but you’re doing so because it’s what’s best for you.
Because regardless of what society tells you, college isn’t for everyone. It’s not required in order for you to be successful, and sometimes not going can be one of the most responsible decisions a person can make. You don’t have to go. You can be successful without doing so, and you can be a benefit to others without that diploma our world tells us is necessary in order to accomplish and do something of worth. College being necessary is in fact one of the biggest lies society tells us.
Now imagine you’ve made this decision, maybe not solely because of, but in large part due to an aversion of placing upon yourself a great burden of debt by taking out student loans; a burden that can set a person, and subsequently a family, behind.
You know you’re going to have to work harder, hustle often, and open yourself up for vulnerability more frequently in order to even be considered for positions and opportunities those who have the college degree possess a greater chance at attaining. The reason being of course because they’ve made the opposite decision as you did — one that may have even been the right decision for them personally.
But, despite the advantages your counterpart may have over you, you also take solace in the advantages you might have over them; your equal playing field is in you not being saddled with the debt the majority of college graduates currently have. This gives you more room to experiment with and explore, room to pursue opportunities in more diverse and unique ways.
So while their decision to finish out college may have given them a leg up in some ways, it hasn’t done so in every way.
Moving on from that example, now imagine that you did finish college.
But you did so the hard and much less-traveled way — you worked your way through with no debt. You waited tables at night, worked in the school cafeteria during the day, and uber’d when you could. And through all of this, you still maintained a passing grade; the grades may have suffered a bit due to your busyness, but you passed. You worked hard, you hustled, and you finished.
And you did this while some of your classmates maintained a 4.0 throughout because they could focus explicitly on their studies. Or maybe some of them got similar grades as you but they still got the “full college experience,” making the reason for their suffering grades due to the partying, the socializing, and the extra time they had to participate in extracurriculars, clubs, sororities and fraternities, etc. Things you didn’t get to do.
But once you’re both finished, you may have a greater advantage than even our first example because you possess that degree, you’ve gained valuable work experience, and you’re not saddled with debilitating debt.
However, you’re also worn out and exhausted; your counterparts are fresh and ready to begin life anew while you’ve already put a lot of miles on your body, and this is before you even get the chance to begin the career you’ve worked so hard to attain. But this decision was yours to make, and you’re content with it because you don’t have that extra monthly payment to make, one that can last for years and years.
We could also get into imagining examples of those who chose to go to less prestigious schools, due to them being the most affordable options or the ones their parents could afford to help them pay their way through. Their advantage is again in not having the burden of debt, but also, the opportunities may not be as great as those who possess a degree from the more prestigious school; you might be passed over for a job from time to time due to the person you’re up against having the more recognizable school mascot.
But again, while they may initially get the higher paying job, you get to keep a larger amount of your paycheck than they do. And it makes sense for it to be this way, an organically created cancelling out of opposing forces.
Now, after you’ve imagined all of that, and maybe even nodded along with some of it because it applies to your own situation, imagine that this balancing out of advantages and organically constructed level playing field, created through responsible decisions you’ve made and the more socially accepted one your counterpart has made, is completely eliminated through one swipe of a pen.
Not only is canceling student debt a fiscally irresponsible idea, placing another burden upon the American taxpayer, it’s also an idea based in classism.
The majority of the Democratic Party, when advocating for student loan cancellation, are proposing an idea that would create a wider class divide between those who possess a college degree and those who don’t. Their ideas of canceling student debt are going to relegate the examples of people covered in this post — people who have made responsible and often necessary decisions for themselves and their families — to a new kind of lower class, while creating a more exclusive and elite class of people who may have a history of not making responsible choices.
Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?