by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As The College Fix dramatically headlines, “Nearly 9 in 10 recent student loan borrowers bet on Biden bailing them out.” Without actually promising or committing anything, Joe Biden has led many young people to believe that the federal government will cancel the loans they take out to finance a college education. A new survey indicates that the lure of borrowing without having to pay back has enticed many youngsters take on debt that they otherwise would not have committed themselves to.
“An overwhelming 86% say Biden’s pledge affected their decision to take on student loan debt.”
Even worse, the prospect of “free money” has affected the decision to attend or continue college itself for a substantial minority.
“When asked if they would have continued their education in the first place if not for Biden’s campaign promises, 25% of recent borrowers say they would have been unlikely (18%) or very unlikely (8%) to go to or continue going to college.
“Additionally, 30% of recent borrowers who are also currently enrolled in school say they are unlikely (21%) or very unlikely (9%) to continue going to college if Biden does not forgive some amount of student loan debt.” …
… Any broad scale assumption of student loan debt by taxpayers would require an expenditure of many billions of dollars, requiring Congress to pass legislation authorizing the spending. Such legislation is very unlikely to pass the current Congress, so there has been talk of “executive action.” But a president cannot on his own authorize such an expenditure. To be sure there are “budget tricks”, such as President Trump used to build the border wall, including using money authorized for military spending. But that was a few billion dollars at most. I doubt there are reserves of already authorized unspent money for education that Biden could tap to give a free ride to student borrowers.