ON YOUR MIND: To Forgive or not to forgive. Readers respond to guest column about push to cancel federal student loans

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: : House Democrats are urging President-elect Joe Biden to cancel federal student debt after he takes office. In a guest column that appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Dec. 20, Cedarville University associate professor of finance John Tarwater reasons that would be a mistake. “There really is no such thing as debt cancellation when the public is involved; rather, there is only a debt transfer,” he wrote among other things. Below are excepts from Letters to the Editors responding to his piece. It can be found on the Ideas and Voices section of DaytonDailyNews.com.


Professor Tarwater misses a larger point in his argument against forgiving student debt. The lifeblood of any economy is its access to human capital, the skilled, capable workforce that powers any organization’s growth. It is to the benefit of Sandi and Robert Entrepeneur to support the burden sharing that government debt forgiveness represents. Without it you may see the flow of capable employees slow to a trickle as graduates are scooped up by the large entities who can pay generous compensation packages. Can Sandi and Rob bring raw, untrained talent up to speed? Prepare to see the costs associated with training escalate, threatening the solvency of the endeavor even as they risk seeing the now-valuable associate poached by competition.

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Beyond that, Joe and Sue Student, burdened with massive debt, now hesitate. Don’t invest in a mortgage, delay having children, stay agile and mobile and wait to engage in community in a permanent way. At least until they get out from under the mountain of debt.



When my daughter was a little girl, I looked into her beautiful brown eyes with much love and started a savings account for her education. Eighteen years later, I had the money saved to put her through four years at Notre Dame. I knew the kid was smart. Proudest moment of my life. When these politicians start promising free secondary education paid by taxpayers, I wonder where the motivation will be for parents to start saving for their kid’s education rather than spending the money now on boats, cars and other trinkets, and relying upon the American taxpayer to pay for your kid’s school. If these promises to pay don’t materialize, who will?


I am strongly against this idea. I’m politically independent and describe myself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. In 1970, I had saved enough to attend Bowling Green State University for my freshman year and had a great time. Unfortunately that pretty much tapped me out.

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Instead of borrowing money to continue at BGSU, I choose to come back to Dayton, live at home and attend Wright State Univesity, working construction in the summer to pay my way. I earned a BS/BA and eventually an MBA. I had no debt when I finished. Many students make this choice. Others make the choice to borrow money often in order to experience the fun that living on or off campus offers. Forgiving their debt is a slap in the face to not only all of us who either sacrificed to avoid the debt but also to those who honored their obligation and paid back their student loans. The fiscal conservative in me says we need to quit spending money we don’t have and people need to make fiscally responsible decisions so the rest of us don’t have to pay their bills. The social liberal in me says we need to find a way to help pay for secondary education, maybe at least (two) years of community college.



Student loan forgiveness may be controversial, but eliminating student loans that don’t help students should not be.

For profit colleges are more expensive than public community and four year colleges and have as their only real objective enriching their shareholders. Their primary source of revenue is student loan money. Still, many for profits don’t get enough revenue and fail. When they fail, real educational institutions don’t accept the bogus credits earned at the for profits. The hapless for profit college students are then left with huge student loan debt and nothing to show for it.

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If student loans couldn’t be used at for profits, these institutions would all soon cease to exist. The students who might have been tempted to attend them would have to attend not for profit public or private educational institutions where they might actually learn something that could lead to a decent career.


There is no free ride in life. One makes decisions and you live with the consequences. As Tarwater pointed out in the column the cost of cancelling the loans would come from some other need in our country. In 1961 when I took out a National Direct Student Loan each year I was counseled just how much in debt I would be upon graduation. I choose a major that I knew I would have no trouble getting a job after graduation. Sputnik was just launched and math and science teachers were needed. So many of today’s student could have cut their debt amount just by attending a 2 year community colleges then earn a four year degree by transferring to a state university. If the student choose to go to a private school which cost even more I do not feel any tax dollars should ever pay off their debt. Our minority population does need major help in financing education beyond high school, but cancelling everyone’s debt is wrong. I was a Biden-Harris voter.


Letters to the Editor are submitted reflections from readers typically of 200 words or less. Letters to the editor should be sent to edletter@Coxinc.com. Include a daytime phone number, your full name and the city in which you reside.