Will Taxpayers Pay for Student Loan Forgiveness

Will Taxpayers Pay for Student Loan Forgiveness

In August, President Joe Biden made an important announcement that grabbed the attention of many Americans dealing with student loan debt. 

He suggested eliminating a maximum of $20,000 in federal student loans for persons from lower- and middle-class backgrounds.

 This announcement provided optimism to individuals who had long aspired for alleviation from their student loan obligations. Nevertheless, the issue arises: Who will eventually shoulder the expense of this student loan debt forgiveness?

The Cost of Cancelling Student Loan Debt

Eliminating federal student loans has financial consequences. The national government would bear a significant expense; in the end, the public may be accountable for paying the cost. 

Based on projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), President Biden’s proposal to eliminate student loan debt might have a price tag of around $400 billion. 

Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that this estimation is uncertain, as it depends on other aspects, such as the number of individuals who would have settled their debt without any intervention and the amount they will ultimately repay.

President Biden has expressed that “there is ample deficit reduction to finance the programs.” But what does “involve for the government” actually mean? 

Eliminating federal student loans would result in an instant increase in the federal deficit, effectively reflecting the disparity between the amount of money the U.S. government spends and the revenue it generates.

The Discussion Regarding the Budget Shortfall

The effect of increasing the federal deficit is a topic of discussion among analysts and policymakers. 

Some people worry about the possible adverse effects of amassing significant national debt levels. These issues involve the economy’s susceptibility to higher interest rates and growing inflation. 

However, other people contend that the U.S. government has had a yearly deficit since 2001 without facing significant negative consequences. They note that eliminating student loans may not necessarily significantly affect the deficit.

It is essential to mention that the national government encountered a significant shortfall of $2.8 trillion in fiscal year 2021, primarily due to COVID-19 relief expenditures, such as stimulus payments and emergency rental aid. 

This shortfall represented almost 13% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), one of the most significant percentages observed in many years. To provide context, deficits over the last five decades have typically been around 3% of GDP on average. 

An increased deficit percentage raises worries about the government’s capacity to service its debt and the possible danger of default, which could lead to global financial instability.

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released in May cautioned that the current amount of federal spending is not sustainable and puts the country’s financial well-being at risk.

Decreasing the Budget Shortfall: Potential Consequences

The government has two primary choices to deal with the deficit: cutting spending or raising revenue by imposing taxes. This is when the possible effect on taxpayers becomes relevant.

1. Reducing Expenditure: 

Some say that to lower the deficit, the government may need to decrease spending on vital programs.

In a report from 2020, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) discussed different approaches to reducing the deficit.

These solutions involved reducing essential programs, including eliminating free and reduced school lunches or increasing the full retirement age for Social Security.

2. Increasing Taxes: 

Alternatively, the government might raise tax income to balance the deficit. This may include increasing personal income tax rates or removing well-liked tax credits and deductions, including lowering deductions for charitable donations. 

Although President Biden has promised not to increase taxes on the middle class, future administrations may adopt a different strategy.

The Discussion about Financing

Those supporting the elimination of federal student loans believe that the responsibility of repayment should not be placed on the individuals who would benefit the most from the forgiveness. 

They propose raising taxes on businesses, high-income individuals, and the affluent, as they have profited from a better-educated workforce that adds to their wealth.

Worries about rising prices and the expenses of education

Another factor to consider regarding student loan forgiveness is the possible effect on inflation.

According to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), President Biden’s plan is projected to potentially increase the inflation rate by 15-27 basis points (0.15%-0.27%) in the coming year. 

However, considering President Biden’s income limits are lower than those utilized in the CRFB’s calculation, the actual effect on inflation may be considerably lower.

Although some claim that student loan forgiveness might only have a minimal effect on inflation, economists caution about other possible outcomes. 

There are worries that schools and universities may increase tuition fees, anticipating future loan forgiveness, which could worsen the problem of rising educational prices.

Short-term Advantages vs. Extended Ramifications

The discussion on the cancellation of student loan debt centers on finding a middle ground between providing immediate help to borrowers and considering the possible long-term effects on the federal deficit, inflation, and education expenses. 

Supporters of forgiveness highlight the immediate advantages of increasing the funds available to borrowers, assisting persons from disadvantaged backgrounds in accumulating wealth and correcting racial inequalities.


Ultimately, the issue of who will bear the cost of student loan forgiveness is intricate and debatable.

However, it is crucial to consider the immediate relief it provides and the potential long-term effects on the economy and government finances. 

As the country deals with the problem of student loan debt, finding a solution that considers borrowers’ needs while being fiscally responsible continues to be a complex and continuous discussion.





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