There's a fairer way to cancel college debt

President Biden.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Is it finally happening? After more than a year of equivocation and haunted by dismal polling, reports are circulating that the Biden administration is planning to cancel some of the $1.6 trillion in higher education debt collectively owed by around 45 million people.

The maximal version of the plan would be a serious mistake. As Michael Brendan Dougherty observes in National Review, the bulk of student debt is held by the relatively affluent. With already high earnings and low unemployment, it's not clear why they need the extra help. Blanket forgiveness also effectively subsidizes higher education institutions that can charge high prices with the expectations that someone else will pick up the tab. In the past, debt forgiveness has been touted as a way to jumpstart the economy. With inflation already rampant, though, the benefits of injecting more cash into the economy are dubious at best.

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Samuel Goldman

Samuel Goldman is a national correspondent at He is also an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, where he is executive director of the John L. Loeb, Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom and director of the Politics & Values Program. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow in Religion, Ethics, & Politics at Princeton University. His books include God's Country: Christian Zionism in America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and After Nationalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). In addition to academic research, Goldman's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.