Student loans are now a perennial political hot potato and an established economic challenge for young Americans. Politicians and the higher education industry have been kicking it out for so long that we can no longer ignore the effect of student debt on The ability of millennials to thrive in today’s harsh economic environment.
Regardless of your perception of the problem, student debt will continue to grow. color our voting models and consumer behavior for decades to come. Politics aside, let’s talk about how we got here and what, if anything, can be done to ensure student debt doesn’t become a weapon of mass economic destruction. Additionally, I want to share what you should do if you find yourself taking on a large chunk of student debt in a rapidly changing political landscape.
Even if you have no student debt, it is a very common problem. It is likely that your children, neighbors, employees or friends will struggle to meet their minimum interest payments and see their balances increase due to the exorbitant interest rates. Many of these debts defy individual economic realities and are unlikely to ever be collected. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to bear these huge losses.
These gloomy fiscal prospects are the reason why some believe student loan cancellation is the solution to this debt quagmire. Opposition to these measures quickly points to the obvious moral hazard and the simple fact that forgiveness is not directed at future generations who will inevitably fall into the same debt trap. In short, there is no easy way out, and the specter of student debt will continue to weigh on our national economic outlook.
The government seems more willing to approach the crisis in a piecemeal, often haphazard way that does not seem to come close to a solution. But if you’re a borrower, you’ll need to keep up with a rapidly changing reality if you want to master your economic future and help dig a hole in student debt.
For student borrowers who have federally held loans, you’ve probably noticed that all of your loans are currently in abstention due to the ongoing pandemic. This means that you don’t have to pay a dime on your loans and your principal balance is interest-free. President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ seized phone records from New York Times reporters George P. Bush announces offer for Texas Attorney General Liz Cheney to spend K on security months after Trump impeachment vote MORE extended these measures until the end of the year. Private borrowers have not benefited from such relief, which means people will likely rethink refinancing their public debt into private debt, which has become extremely popular in recent years.
A profitability strategy for individual borrowers is now starting to challenge the basic rules of personal finance. Individual sacrifice can be in vain as the expectation of some kind of forgiveness begins to permanently alter consumer behavior. For some, these changes lead people to deprioritize the payment of their debt. I know of several people who use the pandemic grace period to save for a down payment on a house, or who are simply living beyond their means at the moment. For others, it means keeping high-interest federal debt that can be canceled instead of refinanced into low-interest private debt. Each case is different and it is difficult to point the finger at young people who thought they were making the right choice by financing their studies. However, we can point the finger at a federal government that caused this bubble by giving a blank check to colleges and universities. These same higher education institutions appear indifferent to the basic financial well-being of their graduates. Today, they continue to rip off students with inflated prices that perpetuate the current crisis and increase the liability of future consumers and taxpayers.
The complexity of all these questions is difficult to understand. The student debt crisis will continue to shake things up in our politics and devastate millions of fellow citizens’ bank accounts. If you are one of those borrowers, it’s more important than ever to keep up with the news and make sure you align your financial decisions with current federal lending policy.
David Grasso is the Executive Director of GenBiz, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young Americans achieve financial freedom through entrepreneurship. He is also the host of Bold Business on Bold TV, an online TV show that highlights entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial journeys.