This week, the Biden administration announced its plan to forgive $10,000 in federal student debt for most borrowers and up to $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants. The forgiveness extends to borrowers whose income does not exceed $125,000 for individual borrowers and $250,000 for married couples. The White House Fact Sheet gives further detail on a host of additional changes including an income-driven repayment plan.
While the debt forgiveness will impact millions of borrowers, it has no long-term effect on an already dysfunctional higher education system. As Laura Arnold points out in a new CNBC op-ed, “Only robust action from the Biden administration and Congress can address the persistent problems of rising prices, low completion rates, and low-quality, unaccountable institutions.”
Arnold proposes several practical paths forward, including greater transparency, accountability, and emphasis on completion. Predatory schools need to be stopped before their hands get on federal student aid, and students should get the support they need to finish their degrees. The complexity of these issues is real but not insurmountable.
Nuanced pieces of legislation, such as the College Transparency Act, have already arrived at the House, and they can make a dramatic difference in how students and taxpayers approach and pay for education.
“There’s no quick fix that will solve the underlying problem. But there is a solution available. Policymakers just need the courage and determination to seek it.”