Dēmos President Taifa Smith Butler issued the following statement regarding student loan payments restarting on Oct. 1:
“Millions of people anchored by the weight of student loan debt are drowning in pursuit of the American Dream. As they now face the resumption of student loan repayment, our country would be remiss to ignore the glaring contrast between our government’s utter disregard for student borrowers and its deference to greedy corporations. While major corporations’ CEOs continue to enjoy profits from the pandemic and benefit from tax breaks, everyday Americans already struggling to make ends meet are at risk of defaulting on their student loans.
Make no mistake: This is a racial equity issue.
“The $1.7 trillion student debt crisis has serious implications for people across our country. For young Americans just starting their lives, falling behind on student loans can be a barrier to getting a car, buying a home, or starting a business. For licensed professionals—like the teachers and nurses who are essential in our communities—it can mean losing their licenses and thus their careers. And for our seniors, it can mean forfeiting the Social Security benefits upon which many older Americans rely.
“Make no mistake: This is a racial equity issue. Because of America’s long history of systemic racism, Black and brown Americans—many of whom were the first in the family to go to college—have had less access to familial wealth and thus were more likely to borrow money for an education. When we consider this in tandem with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to end affirmative action, the future of equitable access to post-secondary education is bleak.
“Treating higher education as a for-profit commodity instead of a public good got us here. Canceling student loan debt will get us out. For the sake of this country’s future, it’s high time for America to reimagine college education and dismantle a system that makes crushing debt a prerequisite for entering the workforce.”