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Putting student loan forgiveness to the test

Student loan borrowers rallied in front of the White House on Aug. 25 to celebrate President Biden canceling student debt and to begin the fight to cancel any remaining debt.Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We the 45m

Democrats’ plan feels like a short-term fix for a long-term problem

My party, against my beliefs, has announced a student loan forgiveness plan (“Biden to void some student loan debt,” Page A1, Aug. 25). Swell. My question is: Now what? Do we do this again in two years, four years? Instead of this unfair giveaway, Washington could use the tax code to permanently make all post-high school education (four- and two-year college, vocational training, etc.) deductible from personal income taxes once a person starts full-time employment. Everyone (parents, grandparents, the individual) who pays the bill is eligible for the deduction. If someone started a business instead of going to college, they already get deductions for business expenses. This approach would treat an investment in education or training in the same way. Finally, the amount of the deduction could be based on the claimant’s income so that those who need the most help get the largest benefit.


Philip Harding


It’s outrageous how this country saddles students with debt

I cannot disagree more with Beth Akers’s op-ed “Biden’s student loan debt plan is driven by politics, not economics” (Opinion, Aug. 29). In 1974 I borrowed $10,000 from a bank to get my architectural diploma from Harvard. It took me 10 years to pay it back while painting houses, cleaning floors at a factory, and doing other manual jobs to survive. At that time, about 40 percent of Massachusetts architects were unemployed, which happens during periods of inflation. I contributed to the wealth of the bank and Harvard University but joined the population of the American poor. How can the United States compete with other advanced countries of the world that educate young people free of charge?

Anatol Zukerman


We all benefit when borrowers are granted relief

After graduate school, l lived frugally. l paid my loan monthly and put every spare dollar toward the principal. I do not begrudge loan forgiveness to this generation of college and grad school students, including those who did not finish college and still must pay back student loans. This generation of education borrowers has been kicked in the stomach by a more than two-year COVID-19 pause, and these students have not made the career and financial progress they might have without this historic societal disaster.


I realize that people who did not go to college and do not have student loan debt but who do have other debt may feel resentment. They may feel that they are paying for someone else’s loan forgiveness through their taxes. The beneficiaries of student loan debt forgiveness are their kids’ teachers, social workers, medical providers, police officers, and many other professionals who provide services they need. I would suggest that many of these beneficiaries of student loan debt forgiveness also are funding this government expense through taxes they’ve paid. So, we are all paying for student loan forgiveness. But I believe it benefits everyone.

Erica Raine


Colleges and universities, sitting on vast endowments, should be pitching in more

Re “College was my chance to escape poverty. I expect to graduate with $160,000 in student loan debt.” (Opinion, Aug. 29): Timothy Scalona argues that paying for higher education needs what sounds like a reset. He advocates that the government (I think he means taxpayers) should cancel all federally held debt and reinvest in public higher education, thereby altering the commodification of education. Since the government has done such a great job of managing social programs, why not? And while we are at it, let’s take care of the international students. Why should they be treated any differently?


Like many others who scraped by and worked multiple jobs to pay their own way through school, I find this thinking hard to swallow.

However, something needs to change, and though Scalona mentions runaway tuition costs in passing, he fails to point out that colleges and universities are sitting on about $700 billion in endowments, which, along with their property, generate little or no revenue to the federal government or their surrounding communities. That doesn’t include the billions in research grants that taxpayers foot the bill for as well.

It is unacceptable to ignore the role that institutions should play in addressing this problem. Those who paid for an education yet legitimately cannot make enough to pay off their loans deserve a rebate from the schools in the form of a loan paydown. Going forward, tuitions should be heavily subsidized by school endowments or those endowments should be taxed, and schools should scale their tuition so that the fees paid correlate to what a student’s expected earning power will be after graduation.

There are a lot of creative ways to address this issue. Let’s give the people who find a way to pay their way a break and put the onus where it belongs.

David Mahoney