The unasked question about the student loan bailout: What’s colleges’ responsibility?
The Hechinger Report
September 7, 2022
As an advocate for people struggling to repay their college loans, Claudio Martinez followed every step of the process that culminated with President Joe Biden declaring that a part of all that debt would be forgiven.
But there was one thing Martinez didn’t hear during the lead-up to Biden’s decision, under which taxpayers will assume an estimated $300 billion worth of student loan debt, or the debate that followed: any discussion of universities’ and colleges’ responsibility for the poor return that many borrowers got for their investment.
“What I don’t see is a mention of who made money in the last 20 years out of this system,” said Martinez, executive director of Zero Debt Massachusetts, a grassroots organization of students, families and activists in that state.
“You as a college or university should have a responsibility for that,” Martinez said.
That should include by spending money to help pay off the debt of students who the institutions fail, he said, and “not on multimillion-dollar salaries for their presidents [or] fancy gyms.”
Republicans and Democrats alike have over the last seven years called for colleges and universities to assume some accountability — called risk-sharing, or having “skin in the game” — for students who default on loans they take out to pay for higher educations.