As a father of a teenager, my major concern about preparing him for a prosperous future is the affordability of college.

Like many parents today, we are hesitant to saddle our children with debt, possibly for decades, due to the cost of tuition. I’ve often wondered how fair would it be for me to advocate for my son to enter adulthood owing $100,000 plus interest.

As the value of higher education has diminished, tuition costs have steadily increased for students across the country. The American Dream of watching your child graduate from college used to signify potential upward mobility. Today it looks more like a side shuffle into dependency as they move back into their parents’ home.

President Biden’s solution to this isn’t a solution at all. He wants to pass on the cost of previous student loans to taxpayers.

Joe Biden
Students are not impressed with President Biden’s effort with student debt.
AP/ Susan Walsh

The administration has framed this as a move of economic fairness. It wants to convince Americans that transitioning the financial burden onto taxpayers is the righteous path forward.

Who benefits

What they aren’t telling you is that such a move would benefit the people who have the highest likelihood of repaying their debt; the upper-middle class and elite. A 2021 study by economists at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago found that debt cancellation would benefit the top decile as much as the bottom three deciles combined.

I can’t help but notice how the conversation of “forgiveness” has been mainly driven by progressive and liberal elites. They tell the less-common stories of struggles by the collegiate “underclass,” though it’s really an argument to absolve their children’s debt.

To the average skeptic, the parallels to the 2008 Wall Street bailouts are many. Americans were rightfully upset that banks were thrown taxpayer money even though the firms were to blame.

Biden sign
Biden used student loan forgiveness as one of his campaign platforms, but has not made major steps to handling it.
AP/Evan Vucci
College tuition has increased across the country, making it harder for students to attend.
In Pictures via Getty Images

While Wall Street walked away unscathed from the Great Recession, state funding took a hit, and many responded by cutting money for colleges — putting even more of a financial burden on students.

A study done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that nationwide cuts made by state governments after the crash are one of the main reasons for surging college costs.

Between 2008 and 2018, 41 states spent less per student, and on the dramatic end of the cuts, six of these states cut funding by more than 30%. This, in turn, fueled a class divide. The poor couldn’t afford tuition; those admitted are either wealthy enough to sustain the costs or optimistic risk-takers crossing their fingers hoping it all works out in their favor.

A study showed that nationwide cuts made by state governments after the crash are one of the main reasons for surging college costs.
A study showed that nationwide cuts made by state governments after the crash are one of the main reasons for surging college costs.

Same old mistake

If you forgive this debt without any other stipulations to decrease student tuition, you’re making the same mistake all over again: rewarding the elite, making the rest of us pay, and not doing anything to fix the problem. It is a superficial political win for the administration, not a preventative measure.

Meanwhile, my son still faces the same Faustian bargain — taking out sky-high loans with the promise of a better career. But if he takes on debt, will his generation get the same break?

Adam Coleman is the author of “Black Victim to Black Victor” and founder of Wrong Speak Publishing.

CUNY students
CUNY students are protesting to increase public funding.
LightRocket via Getty Images/Erik McGregor

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