Three years ago, Vista Equity Partners CEO Robert F. Smith paid off the student loan debt of the entire Morehouse College graduating class. It was a good thing for him to do. But it was appalling that it was even necessary. Even more appalling is that the problem of student loan debt remains nation-wide. Student ought not have to accumulate a lifetime’s worth of debt for a four-year degree.
Over twenty years ago, I accumulated more debt than was healthy so I could finish college and then a graduate degree. Largely, I did so because I didn’t understand debt and how it would affect me. My debt for two degrees was smaller than what many students have accrued today for a single degree. And still, it prevented me from doing a lot of things I wanted. It forced me to make choices that I didn’t necessarily want in service to that debt.
I have since paid off my debt. I was fortunate to parlay otherwise impractical degrees into a career in technology that paid far above what I would have earned elsewhere. And while I enjoy what I do for a living, I’m definitely in this field because of the money, not for its own sake. I’d rather have been able to focus on writing fiction. I’d rather have spent time on woodworking. I’d rather have played guitar. Those things all had to take a back seat to servicing student loan debt.
I’d rather no one else have to make those sacrifices.
Massive student loan debt is a drag on our economy. It damages creativity, innovation, and progress. It is a symptom of the disease that afflicts this country: that people exist only so that profit can be squeezed out of them for the benefit of those who already have grotesque amounts of wealth.
Forgive all student loan debt now.