With Student Loan 'Forgiveness,' the Racketeers Win Again | Opinion

President Joe Biden just announced his decision to forgive student loans to the tune of $300 billion—which is, to put that number in perspective, more than the GDP of either Finland or Portugal. So far, the national conversation has focused on whether, first, the American taxpayer should be responsible for clearing privately held debts, and, second, whether the move is mostly a partisan Democratic gambit to garner votes and support leading up November's midterm elections. However, it is colleges and universities that should be under scrutiny, because they are the reason so many graduates are deep in debt in the first place.

Despite their long-standing cursory acknowledgments of "the student debt crisis," our institutions of higher learning have still chosen to raise tuition every year. Colleges and universities know perfectly well that federal loan programs run by the Department of Education will prevent increased costs from deterring student enrollment.

What's more, colleges and universities have all but guaranteed themselves a ceaseless flow of "consumers," having successfully convinced the public that, in the 21st century, one simply cannot survive, let alone thrive without a diploma. They selectively prop up their most successful alumni, rather than show the full picture. And that full picture reveals that many, if not most, graduates earn no more than an American with a trade degree working a blue-collar job.

Because university endowments continue to balloon into the hundreds of millions and sometimes even billions, it is wholly reasonable to ask, why is tuition still increasing? Answer: The number of administrators, as opposed to tenure-track professors, is increasing exponentially, with many senior-level university bureaucrats raking in salaries of upwards of $300,000. In some cases, they're collecting seven figures annually.

Over the past few years, in particular, millions of dollars have been steered toward DEI administrative departments, whose singular task seems to be convincing students that everyone and everything is bigoted. Not surprisingly, then, these departments have been controversial. They have, for example, been accused of fomenting cancel culture and purveying anti-Semitism.

It used to be that professors ran universities. Now "university administrator" is a career path all on its own. And make no mistake, these bureaucrats are political actors. They are zealously driven to convert their institutions from forums for contemplating the best of what has been thought and said over millennia into training grounds for advancing partisan agendas—and for targeting students and professors who dissent from the reigning liberal orthodoxy.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on student
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on student loan debt in the Roosevelt Room of the White House August 24, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Most colleges and universities are at this point little more than bloated bureaucracies whose sole mission is self-perpetuation and self-aggrandizement. Meanwhile, their "consumers," the students, are being deprived of the very good they were promised—an education.

To add insult to injury, students are often required to physically suffer along the way. Dorms, communal spaces, and facilities are falling apart. Georgetown University, whose average annual cost is an eye-watering $78,754, has infamously earned the Instagram page Georgetown.hotmess, which is dedicated to campus decrepitness.

Instead of changing out carpets with mysterious odors and upgrading bathrooms so the toilets aren't falling off the wall, institutions of higher learning are spending on more important priorities. Take Stanford University, which is paying law professor Pamela Karlan $1,000,000 a year while she served as a political appointee in the Biden administration, writing briefs that defend university policies that discriminate against certain races in the admission process.

"Student loan debt" isn't the bad guy here—it's merely a tool of the universities. Colleges and universities are racketeers. They know exactly what they're doing, and they've been getting away with it for decades. They are manipulating a system to make money. They're proliferating degrees, many of which are inimical to a sustainable career, at ever-higher cost, increasing tuition each year and knowing the federal government will be there waiting with bags of cash in hand.

We must hold institutions of higher learning accountable for squeezing the American taxpayer. Parents, as well as current and prospective students, should look around campus and check IRS Form 990s to better understand where the money is going—and, in particular, what administrators are earning. Beyond that, it's high time for more Americans to grasp that the road to success doesn't have to run through the quad. In fact, corruption on campus is only pushing the American Dream further and further away for college graduates.

Cherise Trump is executive director of Speech First. Follow her on Twitter: @cherisetrump.

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