The student loan forgiveness debate

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If I had a dollar for every time tuition fees went up, they’d all be going towards tuition fees anyway. Holly Funk

Conversations about student loans ignite both sides with passion

rayanne gwilliam, contributor

The conversation about student loan forgiveness has been faced with an amount of opposition that some have found surprising. Many people question why there would be any opposition towards student loan forgiveness considering how many tuition increases have happened, alongside the cost of basic necessities such as groceries, rent, etc. For those who have been out of school for some time, those who never went, or had other methods of payment and so forth, there may be a lack of knowledge on the impact student loans have on people’s finances. Student loans are of course meant to cover your tuition costs, but they may also go towards materials, fees, or miscellaneous costs. However, it’s important to note there are many variables that go towards determining a student’s financial aid. Due to this, a student loan may not cover all expenses – and even if they do, the more that is taken out by students, the needs to be paid back in the future, and the more interest will be building on in the future. 

Not to mention you only get a six-month period after finishing school in which your loans don’t acquire interest, and any payments made go directly to the loan balance. But one’s ability to make payments in that six-month period comes down to employment status and other expenses. However, once rent, groceries, car payments, cellphone, utilities, and other necessary expenses are factored in, it’s likely no large amount is going to be able to be paid in that interest-free period. Considering the average amount of student debt per person in Canada is in the high tens or twenties of thousands, it may be much more of an undertaking than some people realize.

Animosity and envy could be present from those who have student loan debt but don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness. As like any government program, the requirements and qualifications are quite specific and can be a difficult process to go through. They may feel it’s unfair if it comes down to minor technicalities, such as them taking years to pay off a portion so the amount is too small and they have to pay it all, or having a high income between them and their partner, despite them having extraneous circumstances that don’t qualify. Those who don’t qualify may feel that they’re being punished for doing well or taking the responsibility very seriously for years with no compensation, while others are rewarded with forgiveness.

There may also be people who were fortunate enough to have their parents be able to pay for their tuition and schooling costs, who don’t see why student loan forgiveness is necessary. There is also the idea that it’s not the government’s responsibility to provide forgiveness, considering that the decision was made by the students themselves to go to college, knowing that they would have to take loans out and no one was able to financially fund those costs for them in their personal lives. There are also those wanting it to be recognized that there are other options available that could’ve been used instead, such as grants, scholarships, bursaries, staying at home and doing distance education to lessen living costs, working to put themselves through school, ad infinitum – instead of hoping for or relying on student loan forgiveness from the government to cover costs when they’re already dealing with a deficit, inflation, and so forth.

Now, it’s safe to say that anything involving the government is going to bring forth strong opinions amongst people. Regardless of differing opinions though, one thing that can be agreed upon is that an evaluation of the cost of post-secondary education is necessary. There are many discrepancies and processes regarding the costs that are foreign to many people. This can become problematic as it’s more difficult to make a sound decision without complete transparency and understanding of the options and their consequences. Therefore, it’s arguable that there needs to be more transparency in terms of education, debt, and financial literacy, as well as teaching of these topics in earlier points of education, like high school.

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