The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Student Loan “Forgiveness”?
Education Should Be Free!

Oct 24, 2022

The Biden administration announced that, in less than a week, more than 22 million people applied to have their federal student loan debt reduced. That’s more than half the number of people in the U.S. who have outstanding debt on student loans.

It’s hardly a surprise that so many people applied so fast. For those eligible, the $10,000 or $20,000 Biden promises will certainly make a difference—especially at a time when millions of working-class families in this country are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. And yes, it is cynical of Republican politicians to call student loan aid “unaffordable” and challenge it in the courts, when the federal government spends billions upon billions of dollars on war.

But Biden’s program is in no way a solution to the enormous problem student loan debt has become for the U.S. working class. This program forgives $10,000 or $20,000 off federal loans, when the average student loan debt in the U.S. is $37,000. Just compare that with the billions of dollars in PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans given to big companies during the pandemic, 100% of which were forgiven! Then, at the end of September, the Biden administration disqualified more than 700,000 student debt holders from any aid, when it announced that borrowers with privately-held federal student loans would no longer qualify for relief.

The real problem is that such programs don’t even address the real question, which is: How can any working-class family be expected to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for college? That’s why so many college students are forced to take out big loans and are indebted practically for life—and in many cases, their parents end up paying the debt!

But for colleges, student loans have been a bonanza. These student loans basically guaranteed colleges exorbitant tuitions which they would otherwise not be able to collect from many students. Like sharks smelling blood, all kinds of predatory colleges, including some outright scams, sprang up to fill their coffers, while the diplomas they issued did not even help graduates to get a job.

Every human being needs an education—it should be a human right, and free. But like everything else, education under capitalism has become a scheme for capitalists to make a profit. It means the working class is not only deprived of an education, but is also forced to pay for the loot of scam artists posing as “educators.”