The Weakest Argument Against Free Public College and Student Debt Cancellation.

The logic of those opposed to this necessary action falls short.

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Photo via Charles DeLoye on Unsplash

With the mounting student debt crisis in the United States only growing and young people affected by it quickly becoming a larger portion of the voting population, politicians particularly on the left have been facing mounting pressure to come up with a plan to address it.

I’m the midst of the democratic presidential primary, no one’s plan to tackle this incredibly devastating burden has been more comprehensive than Bernie Sanders. With a small tax on Wall Street speculation, Sanders has promised to erase all student loan debt, and make all public and community colleges tuition free.

Now a proposal this bold is bound to have its critics, and the weakest would be that “we shouldn’t be subsidizing the education for the children of the wealthy”. On its surface, unfortunately some of the less politically engaged could reasonably look at this and see it as a valid critique. But of course, we should all remember one crucial detail:

The rich aren’t sending their kids to a public or community college.

Whether it be through legacy admissions, private tutors, and enrollment in the nation’s top private schools across the country, the children of the rich have been prepped from birth to tend the country’s most elite colleges. Children of hedge fund managers, Wall Street bankers, and corporate executives aren’t sending their children through the SUNY or LSU programs for example. Just as they attended private high schools, they’ll be attending private colleges as well.

Frankly, even if they weren’t, would that change the overall merits of Bernie Sanders’ proposal? Would it really be so bad that if all of the American public felt equally invested in the education of all of our children regardless of income? Perhaps the most valuable and unifying investment that this country could make would be in the future of our children, and their right to a quality higher education if they chose that path.

Perhaps I’m alone, but even if our richest children were going to our public colleges for free I wouldn’t mind in the slightest so long as the poorest children weren’t being denied because they couldn’t afford it. I don’t care if my taxes pay for a minuscule if not entirely nonexistent number of rich kids go to public college, because the number of middle class and poor kids that it would help overall is reason enough for me to rally around the idea of free college and student debt forgiveness for all.

The debt crisis is approaching the point where it has the potential to cripple foreseeable generations of Americans in a number of ways, and it already has. Young adults today aren’t having children. They are avoiding buying homes. We are losing untold numbers of nurses, councelors, teachers, biologists, and entrepreneurs etc., because people are avoiding going to college all together simply because cost stands in their way. If subsidizing the cost of public college tuition for all Americans can make that go away, then that’s something we as a nation should rally behind.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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