by Char Scott
Millions of Americans have benefited from the student loan freeze implemented during the start of the pandemic, and many rightfully demand forgiveness for all student loans. Higher education should be a right, but it’s prohibitively expensive for most of the working class. Moreover, the huge costs of attending college are growing worse with high inflation and the threat of recession.
The popularity of student loan forgiveness and free college has put pressure on the Biden administration to do something about the student debt crisis. Democrats, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, included claims of student loan forgiveness as prominent parts of their 2020 presidential campaign promises because it is an incredibly popular demand.
With this in mind, and with midterm elections approaching, Biden is doing what any Liberal politician would do–taking a series of meaningless half measures. For example, he wants the headlines to read “Biden Forgives Student Loans” when in reality, only a handful of people who some for-profit colleges scammed have had their loans forgiven.
Millions of Americans will be in deeper debt when the student loan freeze ends on August 31, 2022. The cost of living has been going up, and wages have stagnated. The average monthly student loan payment is around $450, that’s more than most Americans spend on groceries monthly. Someone making the federal minimum wage would likely spend nearly a third of their monthly earnings on student loan debt. Even at $15 an hour—the minimum wage increase workers have fought for over a decade — the average person still loses nearly a fifth of their income to these predatory loans. The new graduate makes an average of $50,000/year, though higher-earning fields such as STEM or computer science skew this statistic.
With wages stagnating, and inflation driving up the costs of rent, food, and everything else people need to survive, the return of student loan payments will devastate sections of the working class. Many will find it harder to feed their families and maintain their lives, all because of a predatory loan they were convinced to take out as a teenager. Student loan debt is a lead weight tied to the ankles of the working class, and the ruling class has no interest in freeing us from this burden.
College education costs have nearly doubled in the last 40 years. In 1980 a year of college cost around $10,000 (adjusted for inflation), and now the average American is charged nearly $20,000 for a single year of a college education. A four-year college education will saddle the average American worker with $80,000 of debt! The working class is being priced out of education and forced to try and deal with massive debt for decades after they get their degrees. It takes an average of 20 years to pay off student loans. Some people are paying back borrowed money for as long as 45 years – leaving people in debt until or into retirement. The rising cost of college has been attributed to the willingness of banks to sign people up for massive, unpayable student loans, much like housing market bubbles are worsened by longer and longer mortgage payoffs, or the cost of healthcare procedures balloon because of expensive insurance policies. The capitalist class will continue to loan the working-class money, then bleed us dry.
Biden and his party keep dialing back their promises, shrinking the amount they plan to forgive, and proposing ways to test “who really needs it.” All working-class students need it! Democrats are using student loan forgiveness to bolster themselves up for the midterm elections, with no genuine plans to do anything significant. Biden once again wants to deliver on his promise to the capitalist class of “no fundamental change.” The Democratic Party claims they want to do some reform around student loans. What, exactly, keeps changing. But first, they want us to Vote Blue.
Despite having a majority in the House, Senate, and Presidency, the Democratic Party say their hands are tied on multiple issues until the midterms. First, the Democrats will dangle the promise of reforms in front of the working class and then tell us we simply need to get out and vote more. Then once in power, they claim there’s nothing they can do. This bait and switch permeates their every action as a political party, and the working class needs to break this cycle.
The way to end this charade is through mass, organized protest! Working people need to rise up and demand their student loans be canceled and further demand that higher education is a right for all!
Image Credit: Ken Lund via Flickr // CC-BY SA 2.0