Letter: Student Loan Forgiveness: Check Your Privilege

Typical housing on the Rosebud Reservation is a two-bedroom, one bathroom home.

Editor’s note: CTN received the following letter in response to this editor’s tongue-in-cheek remark that if President Joe Biden were forgiving student loans, that this editor would like a $5,000 refund for the loan she paid off.)

The reader wrote: I can’t believe what I am reading – when people who live in the Palisades (or anywhere on the Westside) are complaining, “Where’s MY student loan forgiveness for a loan I took out 20+ years ago.”

I wonder if they even have a clue about what working class people must go through to rise out of poverty. Students at public four-year institutions paid an average of $3,190 in tuition for the 1987-1988 school year, with prices adjusted to reflect 2017 dollars.

Thirty years later, that average has risen to $9,970 for the 2017-2018 school year. That’s a 213 percent increase.(from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/how-much-college-tuition-has-increased-from-1988-to-2018.html) and those are the prices from 5 years ago!

Stop complaining and saying “Where’s my piece of the pie?”  and instead be grateful that you went to school at a time when college was actually affordable. Allow some young person a chance to succeed too instead of just grousing about how you worked SO hard to pay off your loans.

I went to school in the 1980s and I paid off my loan and I’m happy for others to get the break that I had back when school was something that a middle-class family could pay for. Check your privilege. Instead of complaining about student loan forgiveness, why not direct that ire at corporate bailouts for millionaires. THAT is something I could get behind.



CTN’s Response – Checking My Privilege:

It would have been lovely growing up in a middle-class family, but I didn’t. I grew up on a Reservation in South Dakota–we didn’t have running water until I was three. We didn’t have shoes in the summer because barefoot was good enough (and shoes, too expensive.).

I started working when I was 12 by babysitting and carhopping for a local drive-in. I saved my money. I paid for college with scholarships, grants and work study. My family was unable to pay for my education.

I was fine growing up in poverty because it now has given me a different perspective, especially since I now live in Pacific Palisades, where there are “trust fund” babies.

But what I find insufferable are people such as yourself, who make the assumption that just because some people who live on the Westside have managed to make our way out of poverty without government assistance – using grit, determination, hard work and in my case a bit of luck, that we’re privileged.

Join a service organization on the Westside, such as the Rotary or Optimist Club, which are now made up predominately of seniors. Most have worked hard to be able to have a house in Pacific Palisades — these are not privileged people – but they do believe in hard work and paying off debts.

I’m sorry that college has become so expensive – and rather than paying loans, maybe the government needs to look into college costs instead of taxing seniors – or other “rich” people.

My challenge to you–go live and work on a reservation for a year – and then report back on the success of government programs.

The Editor

This entry was posted in Letters. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Letter: Student Loan Forgiveness: Check Your Privilege

  1. Mary Petersen says:

    I’m with you, Sue. Great response!!

  2. andrew cohen says:

    I know you’re dying to hear what I think. I’m against it unless there’s some kind of payback. The loans could be re fid to give qualifying people some immediate relief. How about having to volunteer or there are fields that need workers ie medical. Interest free loans to go to school for those fields but you have to stick w it for 5 years or pay it back. If you go to a military academy, you commit to 5 years of service afterwards. What about better military pay

  3. Adam Wolman says:

    No judgements here, just a couple of links that help inform why President Biden did what he did. For those who worry about the overall economics of student debt forgiveness, here’s a skeptical economist who changed her mind about the wisdom of the move:


    And for those who fear that too much of the government’s largesse would benefit people who don’t need the help:


    One key takeaway from the Times piece if you don’t read the whole thing: “The Education Department estimates that nearly 90 percent of affected borrowers earn $75,000 a year or less.”

  4. Hill Joan says:

    Right on Sue!

  5. Mo McGee says:

    Sorry that reader got your back up, Sue. Without going into gory details, I was a non-privileged kid who is now privileged to live here. I paid my student loans from way back when and am very happy that President Biden moved to forgive part of student indebtedness. Like the reader you cite, I’m more rankled by PPP loan forgiveness to those who can well afford to pay, corporate subsidies, and a Social Security tax that stops at $147,000 annual income.

  6. Another Reader says:

    I’m with the ‘A Reader’. First, I don’t think your initial message was tongue and cheek. It was more of a snarky political swipe. And for Reader to say that most all of us living in the Palisades are currently on a privileged tier and likely to have done well whatever our student loan burdens were … is a pretty safe assumption. Comparing your “where I came from” background isn’t really a direct response to that valid point. There are lots of “by my own bootstraps” people who are solidly for student debt relief. The Reader feels most of us can probably afford to support student debt forgiveness. (Especially given the horrendous student-loan practices that were in place, and the predatory debt-relief loans that followed.) Tuition costs have far outstripped wage increases, so it isn’t really fair to do the “but in the 1980s, I managed to pay off my loans.” comparison. I’d also bet that Reader, given their gracious attitude toward students, most likely volunteers and donates to charitable causes.

  7. Scott Dahlberg says:

    Great response, Sue.
    I grew up in poverty in Latin America and lived through economic collapse and civil war. I came to the USA in the 1970s with nothing except a desire to educate myself and work hard. I earned my way into the Palisades through 30 years of hard work, discipline and determination.
    I never thought of demanding that taxpayers should subsidize my life decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *