Opinion: Don’t just cancel student debt: The cycle only ends with free college

Despite its proven importance to students and the broader American economy, college is prohibitively expensive for millions, and tuition is only a part of the problem.


Lost in the debate regarding President Biden’s anticipated announcement that he plans to cancel student debt is a more complicated, and arguably more important, reality: Democrats have abandoned all efforts to make college tuition free at the federal level.

This means that even if Biden cancels all outstanding student debt, the federal government has not enacted plans to prevent students from accumulating new debt moving forward. While borrowers may momentarily rejoice at debt forgiveness, by tabling plans to make college tuition free, Democrats threaten to undercut their own attempts to expand college access and affordability. Debt cancellation — while potentially meaningful to millions of Americans — will not make higher education affordable without further action.

The Biden administration, congressional Democrats, and yes, also Republicans, should do more to make college affordable so that millions of Americans can access the life-enhancing benefits of a college education.

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