Our country is stuck in a vicious cycle that cripples younger generations from being able to fully participate in our economy and begin the next chapter of their lives.
The student debt crisis cannot be solved with just loan forgiveness; our government must reform the entire higher educational system if we are to stop this from being an ongoing and systemic issue for future generations.
As of 2021 there are 45 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. This amount exceeds credit card debt in 2010 and auto loan debt in 2011. Our parent's generations didn't seem to have this much trouble paying off student debt, so why are borrowers struggling today?
College is now a basic requirement due to "degree inflation".
Unseen in previous generations, our teens today find that attending college is a fundamental prerequisite to joining the workforce and being hired for basic, entry-level jobs and middle-skills jobs. The percentage of students who head straight to college after high school has risen from 63 percent in 2000 to 70 percent in 2016, according to the Department of Education. Today the question we ask high schoolers is no longer “are you going to college?”, it's “which college are you going to?”, even when they are personally better-suited for a trade or career that does not require a 4-year degree.
Most students have to take on debt.
Our current climate causes millions of students to make the difficult decision to attend a school they can't afford, believing this will land them a higher salary job for long-term success. On average students take on $33,000 of debt, only later learning that many companies requiring a degree don't pay a net disposable income for entry-level positions.
If you successfully graduate college and find a job, paying off student debt can still be nearly impossible in a job paying less than livable wages.
Almost 4 out of 10 students don't graduate.
Roughly 42% of students don't graduate college at all. This can be for a number of reasons, but the most common include lack of affordability, living costs, working during school, and lack of academic preparation. Many students who drop out only have modest amounts of student debt, but they have also left school without the piece that matters most to hiring managers: the degree. This population of former students represents the bulk of the student debt crisis, as they are the least likely to make their payments.
The government increases spending to offset the costs.
As a result, government spending has significantly increased, mostly as grants, loans, and direct subsidies. Federal, state, and local governments have increased spending on higher education from $70 billion in the late 1970's to $200 billion today (adjusted for inflation).
Colleges then increase tuition more.
Colleges then take advantage of this increased government aid by raising tuition year over year on everyone; for every $1 in subsidized federal loans and grants, schools have increased tuition by 60 cents, whereas for unsubsidized loans tuition only increased by 15 cents. Although overall demand for colleges has decreased in the recent decade, technological advances and cost disease have caused tuition prices to continue increasing.
Private loan companies continue to raise interest rates.
And if you are required to go to college even though tuition has increased, you're likely to take out loans through a private loan company. Companies like Sallie Mae, Navient, and others offer predatory loan rates based on a requirement for high schoolers to move forward in life. Student loans interest rates now approach 7, 8, or 9% (versus the 4.53% federal interest rate), and because many students have no other option, they take out loans at these high rates. This makes it nearly impossible to pay loans off in a timely manner only contributing to this terrible cycle of ongoing student debt.
Savanna is committed to educational system reforms that will make college accessible for all who want it, but not required to succeed for those who don't.
Make a 2 or 4-year community college degree free to every adult regardless of age, race or socioeconomic status
Require that endowments, costs, and budgets of public universities' spending be publicized and considered when providing federal, state, and local funds
Strengthen apprenticeship programs that provide opportunities and funding for those who want to learn a skill or trade rather than get a degree, and partner with the Greater Cincinnati Apprenticeship Council
Impose caps on interest rates from private student loan companies to reflect market interest rates
Enable students or former students with existing student loan debt to refinance at today's interest rates
Eliminate the ability for the federal government to profit off student loans
Reform general education to include more curriculum on life skills such as cooking, taxes, laundry, and other skills needed for becoming an independent adult
Put limits on public universities' year-over-year tuition inflation
Work to remove cost-additive requirements for public universities (such as a freshman must stay 1 year on campus)
As Your Congresswoman Savanna will:
About Savanna's Platform
"I am fighting for every American to have access to affordable, quality health care; to advance criminal justice reform; to demand equality for LGBTQ+ and Black communities; to support our aging population; to lower taxes for working families and small businesses; to raise taxes on the ultra-rich and large corporations; to accelerate pathways to citizenship for immigrants; to address our climate crisis; to bring new jobs and industries to the economy; to make affordable housing a right; to provide higher education to all; to give the public a louder voice than special interests."