The average debt load for elderly student-loan debtors has nearly doubled between 2012 and 2017--from $12,100 to $23,500. And, according to the Times story, most student-loan debt held by older Americans was taken out to pay for for their children's education.
Many of these elderly student-loan debtors jeopardized their own retirement by borrowing money to get their kids through college. And these debts are virtually impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.
It is now inevitable that the United States will elect an old guy for President in November: Donald Trump, age 73; Joe Biden, age 77; or Bernie Sanders, who is 78. Will they be sympathetic to senior Americans who are burdened by student debt?
Why don't we inquire? If we get an opportunity to question Bernie, Biden, or Trump, these are the questions we should ask.
First, do you support the bill that Congressman John Katko introduced in Congress to eliminate the "undue hardship" provision in the Bankruptcy Code so that insolvent Americans can discharge student debt in bankruptcy just like any other unsecured consumer debt? Yes or no.
Second, do you support the repeal of the so-called "Bankruptcy Reform Act" that made it more difficult and more expensive for financially distressed Americans to get bankruptcy relief? Yes or no?
Third, do you support legislation that would prohibit the federal government from garnishing the Social Security checks of retired Americans who defaulted on their student loans? Again, yes or no?
And here are some candidate-specific questions to ask:
President Trump, you indicated that the Department of Education is looking at some options for relieving the suffering of college borrowers who are burdened by student-loan debt? Precisely what do you have in mind?
Senator Sanders, do you have any plan for addressing the student-loan crisis other than forgiving $1.6 trillion in student debt? If you are elected President, and Congress refuses to approve your loan-forgiveness promise, do you have any other ideas about relieving the student-debt crisis?
Former VP Joe Biden, do you regret your role in passing the notorious Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005? Would you work to repeal the law if you are elected President? Would you at least repeal the provision that makes private student loans almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy?
Curiously, although the student-loan program is totally out of control and burdens 45 million Americans, the media has not pressed any of the presidential candidates about the student-loan crisis.
College and university leaders have said almost nothing about this catastrophe, and they won't be asking the presidential candidates any awkward questions about the federal student-loan program. Harvard, for example, took in $4 billion in federal money between 2011 and 2015. The student-loan program works just fine for America's wealthiest university.
But ordinary Americans need to know what Bernie, Biden, and Trump plan to do if they are elected President. Ask those questions yourself because the press and the universities aren't interested.
|Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow: Student-loan crisis? What student-loan crisis?|