Michelle Wooddell (D) of Southfield has thrown her hat into the ring for Michigan’s newly formed 12th congressional district. She will face off on the Democratic ticket against Rashida Tlaib, Shanelle Jackson and Janice Winfrey in August. Wooddell is a professor at Grand Valley State University. Her priorities include affordable healthcare and college tuition, supporting the police with a focus on stopping crime and providing more aid for mental health issues, supporting troops and their families, and protection of the environment, particularly our water. She is a small business owner and teacher who grew up in Dearborn, Mich.
Student Debt Crisis Op-Ed: by Michelle Wooddell
Americans owe approximately $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. As a college professor, many students and alumni have told me they feel they will never be free of this crushing burden. Student loan debt creates real hardship in people’s lives. As a mom of two teenagers, I worry about my own children when I contemplate their high school graduation. If they choose to go to college, will the costs be too high?
As a candidate for Congress in Michigan’s new 12th Congressional District, I now look at the issue through a different lens.
The far left’s call to #cancelstudentdebt may be a succinct slogan, but it does not represent a comprehensive policy solution. Could it be done? Sure, although the federal government’s deficit would rise astronomically at a stroke of President Biden’s pen. The question is, should it be done?
Cancel all student debt tomorrow, some argue, and individuals who made a choice to accrue substantial debt are being rewarded. Others say it would penalize those who by choice or necessity entered the workforce rather than attend college; no one is handing them $26,627, the average debt amount for a public college graduate (https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/see-how-student-loan-borrowing-has-risen-in-10-years). On the other side of the debate, cancelling all student debt would create an immediate boon to the nation’s working and middle classes, keeping money in their pockets at a time when inflation is soaring.
Neither of these two extremes represent good public policy, however, nor are they achievable given our divided Congress. We need a third option, which is why my first bill in Congress when elected will include:
- Restart student loan payments as scheduled in May 2022 but offer a 0% interest rate on all federally guaranteed loans and offer borrowers the chance to refinance their private loans with a 0% rate through existing federal programs. Interest is forgiven on principle that is paid back.
- Streamline and increase opportunities for loan forgiveness for individuals who pursue careers that serve the public good. The program currently in place is overly complex and underutilized. Congress can and should do better for its public and nonprofit sector workers.
- Bring the corporate, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to the table to find long term solutions for tomorrow’s students.
When we all work together, complex problems like student loan debt can be solved now and in the future. Tweeting incessantly about it certainly won’t solve it. Student loan debt isn’t something that can be solved in 280 characters.
Candidate for Michigan’s newly formed 12th Congressional District
(These views are not endorsed by Grand Valley State University)
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