Don't Give Our Flawed Universities the Boon of a Student Loan Bailout | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Inez Feltscher Stepman during a Newsweek podcast debate on student loan debt forgiveness. You can listen to the podcast here:

I agree with Cody that student debt is, in fact, a crisis. With that $1.7 trillion, I do agree that it's holding our generation back in life. We aren't hitting some of the same milestones our parents did financially, for that reason. But I think that student loan cancelation is, in fact, a Band-Aid because the underlying problem here is not student debt per se. It is the cost of university. And unless we address the cost of the university, which has been artificially inflated by federal loan policies for decades, and has only been made worse by the fact that student loan debt was taken in by the government, we won't get very far.

A general view of the arches of
A general view of the arches of the Main Quadrangle buildings on the campus of Stanford University before a college football game against the Oregon Ducks on October 2, 2021 played at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. David Madison/Getty Images

We can get more into that, but university inflation and tuition inflation is so much higher than even health care—and we're always talking about the inflation, and how much that's squeezing American middle-class families. The cost of university is actually multiples of the inflation of health care, and underlying all of these problems with the way we value universities are what they actually produce, in terms of value, for their students. And also, value for society. I think all of those things deserve a recalculation and a new way of looking at things, but I don't think student debt cancelation is the solution. In fact, I think it's a big boon to the universities to make their product "free" on the backs of the two-thirds of Americans who don't have a college degree.

Inez Feltscher Stepman is a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum, as well as a Claremont Institute Lincoln fellow and a contributor to The Federalist.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.