By Allison Corcoran
In CNBC’s newly released article, “Why People with Student Debt are Refusing to Repay it?”, a group of students want to discontinue all private and federal loans and make public college free. Currently, there is a national strike against the country’s student loan debt, as it climbs toward $1.7 trillion. On average, students have $30,000 in debt, which places it second to mortgages. Students debt is accumulating more each year, setting students and their future families behind. 1 Today, there are 359 students on strike to repay their loan debt.
One woman on strike, Sandy Nurse, shared she is $120,000 in debt, then commented on the fact she should not have to pay for knowledge. Along with paying for loans, Nurse struggles to afford monthly bills. Her income is not at par with the costs of living today, “the average hourly wage in 2018 had no more purchasing power than it did in 1978, according to the Pew Research Center” (Nova). Although some groups are choosing to not pay their loans, many students can simply just not afford it. This demonstrates why the Debt Collective originated, according to co-founder Thomas Gokey, “the movement aims to “politicize” the millions of Americans who are already not repaying their student debt because they can’t” (Nova). In the appendix, Dan Hong is burning his bill from the University of California, Los Angeles.2 Numerous UCLA students joined Dan in the burning, however Mark Kantrowitz, an education professional, does not believe the strike will contribute to their future. Instead, Kantrowitz emphasizes the consequences of refusing to repay the loans; it will ruin their finances with a rise in collection fees and damage to their credit.
As the next presidential election approaches, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have advertised eliminating student loan debt in the country as part of their platform. Their reason being is to win the young voters over with something that will influence their future. There are 44 million Americans in debt, the candidates are trying to boost the participation of young voters. As a student, it sounds appealing, but we must think of the long-term consequences of free education. A possible repercussion of this would be a less competitive education system after high school. If college was free, there would lack a financial incentive for students to perform well and earn scholarships from colleges. Although free college would benefit families with a lower income, the college system would not be as challenging, resulting in colleges and students not attempting to differentiate themselves. If colleges cannot charge students more to attend their specialized university, then each college would not invest in their education to be better than their rival.
The advantages and disadvantages of going on strike against student debt is evident. I am fascinated by this movement because hundreds of students are taking the initiative to fight against paying for knowledge. Although the group of strikers is a small portion of students in debt, the next presidential election will determine how strong students feel about making public colleges free.