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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Serve your country to clear your student loans

Link college loans to civilian or military service, writes Steve Cohen in City Journal. "President Biden’s plan to 'forgive' student loans . . . rewards the wrong values and incentives," he argues. "It requires nothing in return, not even an acknowledgment of one’s responsibility."

Americorps volunteers qualify for money to pay for future education or pay off student loans.

Cohen has one son who paid off his loans, and now feels like a chump, and another who still owes tens of thousands of dollars and would like some relief.


He thinks a year of "minimally paid" national service for those who owe -- or those who want to be eligible for federal student aid -- would be seen as fair. It has the potential to "forge common experiences, develop important work habits, and expose participants to Americans different from themselves."

Imagine a greatly expanded Americorps program and a larger poll for military recruiters.

Two years ago, 80 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds and 88 percent of older adults supported mandatory civilian or military service, according to a poll Cohen funded. Last month, he polled again: Only 34 percent of young people and 38 percent of their elders favored mandatory service. He's not sure why the numbers fell so sharply. (I wonder about the poll's reliability.)

I'm not a fan of requiring everyone to work at a government-approved job. It requires a huge bureaucracy. Many reluctant "volunteers" will not be able to do anything useful. But requiring young people to do something to qualify for student aid or for loan forgiveness is a different idea.

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9 Comments


Guest
Oct 31, 2022

This idea is just as bad as requiring "community service" as a graduation requirement in high school. The bureaucracy required to oversee the program will be expensive, expansive, and probably inept; there will be "make work" jobs created because it wouldn't be "fair" for someone *not* to have a get-out-of-tuition-free-card job; as was pointed out previously, there will be a large gulf between the jobs of the haves/connecteds and the have-nots/unconnecteds.


Show you have the responsibility of being an adult, make good decisions and pay off your debts.

--mrmillermathteacher

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Guest
Oct 31, 2022

SUNY and CUNY already give tuition and fee waivers to undergrad students whose parents earn 125k or less. That covers pretty much anyone who has a young parent, an unskilled parent, or a retiree parent and lives close enough to commute.


The military has a med school program and a from time to time a state has a law school program. Engineering majors can co-op and easily pay back their undergrad loans if they forgo new cars and have roommates. Science majors and business majors need a vo-tech or biz side gig if not going into govt.

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lady_lessa
Nov 01, 2022
Replying to

I can verify that. My cousin got a 2yr degree when hospitals had their own nursing schools, but had to get her BSRN to keep her nurse-manager job. This is in KY. She joked about being in her 60's with college debt.

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Guest
Oct 31, 2022

We all know how this will turn out. The children to connected parents will get the great jobs that lead to good careers as part of theri pay back while the children of blue collar families will get crummy jobs that are a waste of time and do not lead to careers.

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Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Nov 02, 2022
Replying to

Spot on

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