Student loan-debt forgiveness has unintended consequences

Student debt now amounts to about $1.5 trillion, which is more than credit card and auto loan debt combined.  But abolishing it is not the solution (“Americans are drowning in student-loan debt. The U.S. should forgive all of it,” The Washington Post, Jun. 19).

I say that because it will merely encourage students who are not college material for one reason or another to pursue a degree in a field that is not in demand.  If the argument for going to college is primarily to qualify for a well-paying job to accelerate upward mobility, then loan forgiveness, coupled with free tuition going forward is counterproductive.

The assertion that a four-year college degree is indispensable for a comfortable future fails to take into account the major.  Why does a degree in gender studies, for example, prepare its holders for a job better than a certificate in, say, plumbing?  There are so many college graduates who are underemployed.  They would have been far better served by attending a community college, where they learned a marketable skill.  Moreover, they would not be burdened with debt because community college is a bargain.

Our competitors abroad are far more realistic about education.  They begin sorting out students early in their education.  While we can argue that doing so too soon is harmful, we cannot deny that not everyone should be going to college.  Germany, for example, sends only a small percentage of young people to university.  The rest attend schools in line with their ability and interest.  As a result, Germany has the lowest youth unemployment in Europe.

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