NationalOpinion

Philanthropists should be doing more to alleviate student debt

Imagine a billionaire attending your college graduation ceremony. The individual catches the attention of the crowd not because of his abundance of riches, but rather his promise: to remove every single student’s loan debt from the class of 2019.

For one lucky class, this dream became a reality. Robert F. Smith recently made the problem of student loan debt to go away for the 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College in Atlanta. City News stated that Smith’s promise was to pay off all their student loans, and his act of generosity awarded him with a round of cheerful applause. He gave them an opportunity that no one else could.  

I say “yay!” to no student loan debt. Who wouldn’t? Student loans take their toll on student lives. University life is already a challenge; not only must students deal with academic pressure, but also face the burden of debt once they graduate. Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

Every student’s dream is to be unburdened by debt. I myself would love to have the opportunity to not worry about paying a bill for the rest of my life. I wonder if Smith’s donation to Morehouse College will spark a major change in post-secondary institutions as a whole. It could initiate a shift in students’ priorities, and help lead them onto better paths because they’re no longer worried about debt.

Education is an expensive journey, both for the institution and the student. Because of this, it’s no surprise that tuition rates increase every year. Meanwhile, students’ stress levels continue to rise with the need to be successful in their academic performance, and they’re overcome with worry about paying their bills on time. In America, all of this has an effect on the students’ mental and physical health, sometimes even leading to suicide. Smith’s generosity could cause people to think more about the soaring tuition at universities and colleges, which could help in solving the student loan debt problem.

Eliminating student loan debt should be one of the top priorities in helping students, especially since it affects a large number of people. In 2010, Canadian student loan debt reached over $15,000,000,000. To make matters worse, this amount doesn’t include personal debts like bank cards and family loans. In 2015-2016, the Canadian Student Loans Program reported that just the number of full-time students who took out student loans was $489,935. These numbers reveal that student loan debt is a matter that needs to be taken seriously. Even though that huge bill may not cross your mind now, it can have a major impact for students later on in life. Student loan debt has potential to lead to financial troubles which result in criminalization, and because of the stress, some students choose not to continue their post-secondary education.

If one philanthropist can change a class of student lives, other philanthropists should also try to offer their support. Education is important, and it shouldn’t be this stressful. In order to solve the student loan debt issue, education should be free and accessible to anyone who is interested in applying. If not, then at least other philanthropists should follow Smith’s lead. Robert F. Smith offered his support, and it’s time for others to do the same.

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