Education Loan Reform Under Biden Presidency

By Mieko Yamamoto

Forty-two million Americans currently owe money on student loans.

As we near the end of the election season, one major topic of interest is in regards to the changes in education loan reform if Biden were to be elected President. Concerned with having more people enter the middle class, he addresses the changes in today’s changing economy.

12 years of education is no longer enough.

Jobs today require more than a high school diploma.

To meet the demand for higher credentials, students work to acquire a minimum bachelor’s degree. Yet, gaining a degree can become a financial burden that goes to affect life beyond college. Additionally, those of low-income families are disproportionately affected.

In addressing the unaffordable education beyond high school, Biden proposed the Biden plan:

  • Invest in community colleges and training to improve student success and grow a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive middle class.
  • Strengthen college as the reliable pathway to the middle class, not an investment that provides limited returns and leaves graduates with mountains of debt they can’t afford.
  • Support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.

Roughly 6 in 10 jobs require an education beyond a high school diploma.

According to the Department of Education, students owe $1.67 trillion of loan debt, and as of June 2020, an average student loan debt is $36,520. These numbers display the financial burden students carry that may or may not contribute to securing a better future.

Back in 2019, Bernie Sanders proposed canceling all $1.6 trillion of student loan debt in the United States. However, only 45 percent of student loans were used to attend public colleges and universities. In addition, a majority of the student loans taken out were to attend private colleges or graduate school.

Motivated to break down barriers that prevent students from obtaining a degree, Biden proposed a grant program. Furthermore, he plans on making tuition debt-free only for those who attend two years of community college or high-quality training programs.

Topics regarding free college tuition and student loan forgiveness are quick to grab headlines. But what exactly does the word “success” mean in today’s increasingly globalized economy?

 Do you need a college degree to succeed?

Colleges allow students the opportunity to grow their skills for career success in today’s economy. Yet, many argue that jobs don’t necessarily look at the field in which students major.

According to Liberty Street Economics, 62 percent of recent college graduates are working in jobs that require a degree, and only 27 percent are working in a job that relates directly to their major. Instead, what seemed to matter more regards the skillsets individuals bring into the working environment.

So why do jobs prefer college graduates in comparison to experts with practical skills?

Those with a bachelor’s degree make one-third more than those who don’t. As a result, this cycle of generational disparities in income continues to affect those who never had the chance to attend college. 

Biden’s education loan reform may appear favorable. Alternatively, it may pose potential disadvantages that increase the expense of getting a degree. In this case, schools would need to consider regulating the amount students can borrow.

Under Biden’s plan, “American would lead the world with the lowest income-driven payment plan percentage.”

In short, there’s no perfect reform that appeals to every single individual.