There is plenty of money for student debt relief in the US–or there could be, if our priorities shifted

By Tom Hastings, LA Progressive

My friend Gary left Michigan, went to Sweden years ago, and earned his PhD. He’s a research professor. He was not charged any tuition as long as he continued to qualify and thus held no student debt. That’s how it’s done in much of Europe, at least for public universities.

Free Education End Student Debt Sign on the Campus of the University of Hawaii Manoa next to red balloons during protest of the cost of college.

Gary was able to marry, have a child, buy a modest family home, and simply support his family even though there were years back in Michigan when he and his wife earned relatively little as they each began their careers.

My former student Adam works as hard as anyone I’ve ever met. His Vietnam war veteran father left him just enough to finally pay off his student debt for his degrees at a public university in Oregon. His mother worked so hard and was underpaid, never managing to save much though she did an excellent job as a college office staffer, serving both students and (far higher paid) professors.

Now, almost 50 years old, Adam and his wife can finally start saving for a down payment on their own home.

Back in the day I was able to do that in the 1970s, when I was in my 20s, and have owned my own homes ever since. Student debt then was quite small, paid off by most people quite quickly, and my (boomer) generation stepped into home ownership that way. Once you own, your equity can usually be leveraged to get you into your next home, but if you rent while you drain your paycheck every month to a student loan payment, that down payment usually remains just an elusive goal.

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