This past Friday, the National Lawyers Guild at Suffolk Law School (NLGSU) hosted a discussion about the current student debt crisis with panelists from the Hildreth Institute, Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), and Zero Debt Massachusetts (ZDM). The National Lawyer’s Guild is the nation’s oldest and most progressive bar association committed to “valuing human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interest,” which includes access to education. The National Lawyers Guild chapter at Suffolk Law School strives to elevate the student debt crisis issue and to educate others on creating a more equitable higher education system. 

At this discussion, the NLGSU introduced the student debt crisis by exploring three topics of interest. First, why is there a student debt crisis, as opposed to just a student debt policy issue? Second, what are the biggest misconceptions about student debt cancellation? And finally, what are some arguments or concerns about student debt cancellation? 

1). Student debt is a crisis and not simply a policy issue because student debt is too widespread and systematic. There is a documented failure on part of the government to deliver on many promises, and a lack of accountability to hold student loan servicers in check and to make higher education affordable.

2). The biggest misconception is that student debt cancellation will only benefit wealthy students and families. This is not true. Student debt cancellation will primarily benefit borrowers with zero to negative net worth – particularly borrowers of color. In fact, studies show that the more debt cancellation, the more racial wealth inequalities are reduced.

3). A major criticism about student debt cancelation is that debt cancellation will affect only this generation of students. Borrowers still in school and future generations of students will face another student debt crisis if nothing is done to make higher education more affordable.

To hear a more in-depth answer to each question, please follow the link to watch the entire discussion here: TBA

A special thank you to Kylah Clay, Felicia Gordon, and Mariah Painter from the NLDSU for having us speak at this event, and to partners Timmy Sullivan (PHENOM), Claudio Martinez (ZDM), and Gabriel Toro (ZDM) for sharing their expertise on this topic.