Tuesday, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Job Creators Network Foundation’s case against the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program. We are asking the court to block this unlawful bailout process, which is the only way to begin holding colleges accountable for their role in the student debt crisis.
The NAACP plans to protest outside the court, calling on the justices to uphold the program. “The battle to cancel student debt has been a long one,” said NAACP executive Wisdom Cole. “We know that Biden’s plan is legal, it is supported, it is backed up.”
In reality, the $400 billion bailout of student debt is one of the biggest examples of executive overreach in recent American history. Neither Congress nor the American people gave the Biden administration the authority to take this unilateral action.
More broadly, student loan forgiveness would worsen the debt problem by giving colleges a blank check to continue price gouging that disproportionately hurts black and brown Americans. If NAACP was really interested in helping minorities rather than doing Democrats’ bidding, it would oppose this bailout and join us in addressing the root problem: college overcharging.
Black degree holders carry average student loans of $52,000, the highest among any race. Four years after graduating, black students hold nearly double the debt as their white counterparts. Historically black colleges saddle their students with some of the highest balances.
If colleges know student loans will be forgiven, they will have no incentive to lower outrageous tuitions that have risen by more than twice the inflation rate over the past few decades. The average annual tuition at a private, nonprofit university is now $50,000.
What do these obscene higher education costs fund? Administrative bloat, worthless degree programs, high executive salaries, five-star amenities, and $700 billion in endowments. Colleges should be responsible for the student debt crisis, not the American public.
The number of college administrators to faculty has roughly doubled over the last generation. Some colleges now have a 1:1 ratio of administrators to undergraduate students. These educrats provide no pedagogical value. Meanwhile, college presidents often enjoy seven-figure compensation packages, and college football coaches can make eight-figure salaries. Countless sociology-adjacent degree programs have sprung up that don’t prepare students for the working world. These programs, which minorities disproportionately take, sell students a bill of goods. The standard American dorm room and lecture hall are largely things of the past as campuses have transformed under a decades-long building boom.
Under the guise of increased “access” to higher education, colleges prey on minority families who desperately want a better life for their children. “You want to position your children for an opportunity to be successful,” explains the black father of one indebted student, but carrying debt is “tough to swallow.”
For example, the Wall Street Journal reports on how the University of Southern California’s online Master’s in Social Work program (cost: $115,000) farmed out recruiting to a for-profit company that used racial profiles of potential recruits.
These stereotypes included: “Needy Nelly,” a black woman who “needs hand-holding” and “calls and emails everyone” because she can’t figure out her application. “Confirmed Carmen,” a Latina applicant, has an undergraduate degree from a state school and “just hopes to get in.” “Withdrawing Joaquin” “has a lot on his plate” and “wants work experience.” (By contrast, the white personas aren’t as profitable because they “want a free ride.”)
This is nasty stuff. Unless checked, it will expand as colleges look to capitalize on the status quo.
According to Mauri Jackson, a black USC grad, the social work program felt like a “degree mill” — a phrase that can accurately describe much of higher education today. College recruiters regularly cosplay used car salesmen, encouraging potential customers to take out massive loans and peppering them with calls and emails.
Where is the progressive left, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who never miss an opportunity to call out American greed, on this issue?
Democrats’ silence is likely a function of colleges’ generous political donations and role in churning out progressive activists like those at the NAACP, whose policy positions so often hurt those they intend to help.
Blocking this student loan bailout process will be a significant victory for minorities and all Americans who want to fix higher ed.
Alfredo Ortiz is president and CEO of Job Creators Network and author of The Real Race Revolutionaries: How Minority Entrepreneurship Can Overcome America’s Racial and Economic Divides.