College and tuition loans

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When I started college, I had no scholarships, no savings, no Pell Grant, no help from my parents … nothing. So, one morning I put on my suit and tie, drove to First National Bank in Kingsport, Tennessee, went in, and asked to see a loan officer. I took a seat and, when my name was called, I went into an office and sat down with a man who asked if he could help me. I told him I need a loan of $100 on a 90-day note, secured by my signature alone.

He sat back, amused, and asked what I needed the loan for. I told him I needed the loan for my first quarter’s tuition and books at East Tennessee State University — $85 for tuition, the rest for books. He asked how old I was. I told him 18. One was not considered an adult in those days until 21. He asked if I had a co-signer. I told him that I did not.

“How are you going to pay the loan back?” he inquired. I told him I had two part-time jobs. One was as a youth worker at State Street United Methodist Church in Bristol, VA and the other was working in a warehouse for Lee Davis Oil Company in Kingsport.

He thought for a moment and said, “What about the tuition for next quarter? What will you do then?” I smiled and said, “Well. Since by that time I have a track record of paying back loans, I’ll come back in here and ask for another 90-day note.” I got the loan and started college.

Tuition didn’t stay at $85 for a full load and, later, some of my textbooks would cost way more than even that $85 tuition. For the first two years, I lived at home. For me there were no fraternity parties, no athletic events to attend, no getting drunk on Friday and Saturday nights. I couldn’t afford it.

After two years, I dropped out and joined the Marines. By the time I got back to ETSU, I had a wife and a child. I did have the G.I. Bill, but it didn’t nearly cover the cost of college, so I had to work. I took out one loan of around $900 which I paid back after graduation. It was hard. When I walked across that stage to get my undergraduate degree, I was, for the most part, debt free.

I am opposed to the so-called college student loan cancellation. For one thing, the concept is a lie. The tuition isn’t cancelled. It’s just a debt that will be transferred to other people. People like me and people who didn’t even go to college.

I agree that there is a problem with high tuition and part of it is because of the government and part is due to the universities themselves. Both are complicit in giving easy access to crippling loans. Most students who get in deep did not have good counsel before they signed on to these loans. Most don’t understand how debt and interest will mount up and, when graduation comes (if it does), students who find a job in their field will be at an entry level pay status until they pay their dues and move through the ranks.

Minority students and students from lower middle class and below are often targets for predatory loans. And, if the student doesn’t graduate, as is too often the case, they are still on the hook for the loans. So, here are some of my thoughts:

(1) Those who make the loans are responsible for them, not the taxpayer. The government has no money of its own. It simply takes it from businesses or working people to pay for what it deems necessary.

(2) Yes, the system is broken and needs to be fixed and regulated. Of course, this could result in some students not getting loans at all. In any event, the students who already have loans signed papers saying they understood their obligations, so they should live up to them.

(3) Students should have a clear idea of what their goals are and choose their majors accordingly. Some fields will require a master’s degree, or higher, so keep this in mind.

(4) There are alternatives to attending private colleges and the “big” universities. There are alternatives to attending a “party school,” or joining a fraternity or sorority. If you are in college to have a good time and not to prepare for a career, you are not ready for college.

(5) Community colleges and trade schools abound and very often their graduates earn more money than some college graduates. As of May 4 of this year the AVERAGE annual salary for a trade in the USA is $57,204. People who graduate from college with a degree in hospitality and tourism earn an average of $24,470 a year.

Theology and religion graduates (almost all of whom go to an expensive private university) earn $31,630 a year on average. Teachers fare better at $61,730 a year and social workers average $60,802 a year (I made less than $12,000 as a social worker doing the very dangerous job as a child protective services worker).

An advantage for the trades is that very few have any education-related debts when they start work. Oh, and by the way, the average salary for an enlisted person in the United States Air Force is $51,943 plus perks.

(6) Parents, please don’t ever sign or co-sign for your kid’s loans, whether it be for school, car, house, or anything else, unless you are in a position to pick up the debt if and when they default.

(7) Potential students, please don’t work for a stupid major that will be a waste of four years because no one will hire you for that major. If you want to be a nurse, right now there is a nursing shortage, and you will have a good career.

I recently read an article on 10 jobs that one can get with a degree in gender studies. They were: Journalist, teacher, lawyer, writer, casting director, human resources manager, non-profit program director, lobbyist, human rights activist, and editor.

Well, no and maybe. To be a teacher, one has to have a teaching certificate and usually a teaching degree. Becoming a lawyer means several more years of law school. I’m just saying to do the research before you commit to a degree path. If your degree is in “classical Aramaic literature,” you might get a job with that degree, but it will be in spite of it.

There are a tremendous amount of expenditures in universities that, in my mind, are wasteful and unnecessary. But I don’t know, at the local level, how to change that. I know that college is coming fast and that many students are simply not prepared.

But here’s the truth: College IS do-able, without decades of loan payments, but know what you and your child are getting into. Some thinking and plans may have to be adjusted and you might not get to go to the school of your choice. ETSU, from which I graduated cum laude, was my fourth choice behind Emory and Henry College, Tennessee Wesleyan College, and Hiwassee College. But I couldn’t afford any of those three.

As that great British philosopher Mick Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want.” But you can almost always, when it comes to your future, get what you need. Without crushing debt.

And this final word — nobody should have to pay for your school loans. Not even your parents. If you did this, I feel your pain. I have made many, many wrong decisions in my time. But you’re an adult now. Act like it.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). The church has worship services at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life). He may be contacted at davidepps@ctk.life.]

68 COMMENTS

      • Too many have a spoonful of knowledge and limited experience, leaving them making decisions based upon feelings and raw emotion. And some so-called leaders are willing to take advantage of them by telling them what they wish to hear. Wisdom comes from a solid combination of knowledge with experience and understanding. Yes, Dawn, Davd Epps showed courage by being honest and open, even though he knew all along some might throw rocks at him for doing so.

        • I do agree with those specific points that David makes. He isn’t the first to make them. There are other routes to higher education, and I know plenty of people that have done well to provide for their families without a Bachelor’s. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to higher education or learning. The issue I have with David and many others is their smugness because they believe they did it the “right” way (his way) and those that do not are to be continually punished for their choices. The optimum word here is forgiveness. David and those that think like him are not willing to forgive. One of the very core teachings in Christianity is that Jesus taught forgiveness. The push back or rocks thrown at him (as you state), are because this man is supposedly a leader of the Christian faith. What kind of Christian leader does not forgive those that find themselves in trouble? What kind of Christian leader wants to see people continue to suffer? Yes, he provides his wisdom to help those before they go down a path that may cause them trouble, but what about those that are already suffering? What about those that may not receive the wisdom and counseling and find themselves in trouble or those that just don’t heed the wisdom? It appears David wants to wash his hands of those that suffer and basically say “Too bad, so sad. You screwed up and now you must be punished. Get another job or maybe two and pay off your debts.” Then, at next Sunday’s, service he will preach about the importance of the family unit and how people don’t spend enough time nurturing the family.

          I just can’t with this guy anymore. If he’s willing to write a column every week and broadcast his thoughts, he’s going to have to suffer the push back.

          • Dawn, your first four sentences show careful thought and reasoning, but then you bolted in the opposite direction over forgiveness. God forgives us for our sins, but He does not wipe away the consequences of all of our mistakes here on earth?

          • Forgiveness is a difficult concept to many and the act of forgiving can be difficult for anyone from time to time. Maybe that’s why you believe I “bolted in the opposite direction”. I forgive you for not understanding.

    • Yes, keep your head in the sand.

      That seems to be the the mantra of many. Keep doing things the way we’ve always been doing them and ignore the problematic consequences. There are a myriad of reasons why we’re discussing loan forgiveness and the problems associated with it. There is no “one size fits all” or “do it like I did it and pull up your bootstraps!” That’s why the vomit, that David spews, is receiving the negativity. Life is not black or white. Life is not simple and one can argue that it is becoming increasingly difficult with the many problems we face. Many, including yourself, are just not interested in figuring out why one is not paying back their student loans. You’d rather label that person as irresponsible, lazy, and not worthy. Keeping your boot on the necks of others while they are down and in trouble, is not the answer.

        • Nope, the issue I have are the hypocrites here that on one side make Epps thought #1 “the” golden rule, then they turned 180˚ and supported the TARP funding (’08) which basically bailed out the perpetrators – and then four months later, they opposed the Recovery / Reinvestment Act (’09) that assisted the victims. This did run across party lines if you recall.

    • Hi Spyglass—Really? This (#1), from a leader in a Christian denomination? “You made your bed, now lie in it?” It speaks far more about Rev. Epps (and his political views) than about the teachings of Jesus, the Christ.

      Dawn Haddocks (thank you!) said it so beautifully–“Those that have the means should take care of those that don’t, so that they may have a better life.” (I would only add that all involved benefit!)

      Dawn’s sentence should have been a Christian priest’s #1…on point. Story over.

  1. I think that the Seven Points Rev Epps makes are excellent considerations for those contemplating college. Further I believe he has done a service to the students and parents by helping them to avoid stifling debt. This in turn serves the community as a whole if it can avoid being forced to absorb the costs of a mistake, and for the student, it avoids the dishonor and embarrassment of having to ask others to pay for their own mistakes.

  2. I do feel David is doing his congregation and the community a disservice. Maybe it’s because he’s had little push back in his life. I guess I can understand why. When one stands on their stage week after week, for years, preaching one’s interpretation of life, one is bound to believe they are all-knowing and have all the answers.

  3. Rev Epps, I see a pattern in your last two published letters of blaming the young and overlooking the adults in the room. The American Bankruptcy Institute revealed that nearly 1 in 5 who filed for bankruptcies last year – were college students. Yes many had student loans but those payments start with graduation or when leaving school. What drove these students to bankruptcy was their actual credit card debt in most instances.

    And who furnished them with the ideas of getting the cards to begin with? Well you have the parents that want to teach their child how to be responsible with money. [And what a fallacy this is] And you also have the same credit card companies that show up on campus that aggressively market their card to their potential new customers – the ones who don’t even have jobs. Lost in the culpability here are the so-called adults in the room.

  4. Father Epps–On first glance, I thought perhaps this piece was satire. Something like…”Leader in Christianity based on pardon by grace alone bristles at college/tuition loan debt forgiveness.” Sadly, it seems you are serious.

    Frankly, your words sound like a modern re-telling of The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9, as told by Jesus, the Christ)–

    “A righteous clergyman was sitting at the desk in his cathedral office, tapping out an opinion piece for the local news service. He thanked God that he was in good financial standing, due to his own prudent habits. “Never
    have I foolishly applied for a loan nor defaulted on the payments”, he congratulated himself.

    I lived my collegiate years circumspectly, unlike students today, eschewing fraternity parties, athletic events,
    getting drunk on Friday and Saturday…not for me!

    I have always found sufficient employment with adequate wages and benefits. I served as a Marine, with gusto, while undertaking my responsibility as a husband and father.

    Yes, I am nothing like these foolish kids expecting tax-payers like me to bail them out.”

    And sitting at a smaller desk in cheap housing was a young student, hopelessly buried in college debt. He could not even bring himself to lift up his head and finish the opinion piece on the computer screen. But he beat his breast and cried, “Lord have mercy on me, a poor sinner…”.

    I tell you, the student went back home, justified, rather than the other.”

    Father Epps–You might refrain from such a heartless conclusion to a young person in desperate straits (“But you’re an adult now. Act like it.”).

    I prefer “But we’re Christian adult tax-payers now. Let’s act like it and help.”

    • Suz when do you suggest that college students actually have to take some responsibility for their actions? Why stop with just paying off college loans? Why not pay off mortages of people in their 30’s who’ve purchased more home than they can afford? You’re a Christian taxpayer, why not act like it and pay off your neighbor’s $400k mortgage? Why not pay off a failed business loan of someone who ran their business into the ground? (Oh wait….we did that with the Covid relief funds….let me tell you how that worked out for some scoundrels I know).

      And if you’re going to pay off current student loan debt and reward those who have made poor decisions, how about rewarding those who actually did pay off their college loans? I’d like some of my $18,955 back that I paid off in 2 years after college. How about kicking in a few hundred bucks for me because “have mercy on me, i’m a moderately well-off sinner”?

      • Hello the_wing_t Honestly, I haven’t any answers for your queries. I don’t need to.
        The forgiveness that I speak of is not contingent on who is worthy, or capable, or anything; only being in need. I might add, with no guarantee that they will be reformed by aid.

        That is what is often scandalous (and even infuriating) by God’s indiscriminate love.
        We don’t earn it. We are not required to return it. He simply wills it.

        I make a faithful attempt to do what is mine to do, in Christ. In this case, I support cancellation of student loans. Like grace, it is not fair. It is better than that.

        Oh, and I would think that if you are “a moderately well-off sinner” life has dealt mercifully with you. I am glad.

        • Regardless of age, how about insisting on responsibility. Whether you buy an education on credit or a television on credit, there is a debt that’s owed. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of nameless faceless taxpayers to make good on these purchases. Advocating that taxpayers pick up the tab is at best a form of Socialism and at worst pure criminal behavior.

          You can quote your biblical passages all you want Suz but I know what is fair and I know what is right without your help.

          • You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. You can insist people do as you do, but it doesn’t mean they will. It appears you don’t understand Suz’s stance because you are not allowing yourself to think on a higher level or maybe it’s the fact that you just want to keep your fellow human down and will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

          • God bestows grace on the masses. The government is not God, the grace they distribute is instead a quest for power by their leaders in exchange for how they redistribute the tithes they collect. Paul expressed it well in 2 Cor 9:7 “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

          • the_wing_t
            It seems you have brought the conversation full circle back to Fr. Epp’s opinion piece and my subsequent re-telling of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

            It seems to me God does indeed have a soft spot for a debtor seeking pardon. Or for that matter, any of us in a mess of any sort. But the Pharisee character, a very good, even righteous, man receives no accolades.

            You are correct that God’s love has nothing to do with securing a loan.
            But His love is manifested in the willingness of all who come to the aid of those struggling beneath the payments.

            That is why I support legislation for student loan cancellation.

            Each of us is free to decide, obviously. But I would expect more from a priest who can no doubt quote my favorite Beatitude–“How happy are the merciful; for they shall have nothing but mercy shown to them!”

      • Yes t_w_t, we already knew your stance before you wrote it. People with mortgages they can’t afford have the option to sell and get out from under their debt, or at least make it manageable. We already do pay off failed business loans in the form of bailouts, taxes or increased costs of interest, goods or services. Debts don’t just go away – they get paid off in the form of higher costs to everyone and it gets spread around. Student loan debt is no different. Look, we’re all already paying for student loans that aren’t being paid back. There have been various student loan forgiveness programs for a while. Most have had the stipulation of making so many payments or working in a specific sector and then having the remainder forgiven. We’re indirectly paying for others education when a company provides education benefits to their employees. David mentioned the GI bill – guess who pays for that? My spouse’s cousin will be sending both of her kids to college essentially paid for by taxpayers. You can frame it anyway you want, but if you pay any taxes, you’re paying for a part of someone else’s education. You’re also paying for a lot of other things that you may never use – it’s called government funding. You can argue all you want about taxes and how those taxes are being used, but you’ll be yelling into a void. There will always be things you will pay for that you are against. In our household, between myself, my spouse, and my son’s undergraduate, we will have paid well over $200,000 in higher education costs. Fortunately, our loans have long been paid off and we’ve saved so my son will have no loans for his undergraduate. We’ve been fortunate to have well paying positions, but most of the time, you have to “pay to play” when it comes to higher education. Those that have the means, have the better outcomes. It shouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t have to be. David Epp’s mentality seems to be one of “I did it, so you should too!” Well, guess what? Those that have the means should help take care of those that don’t, so that they may have a better life. Lend a hand brother and be happy. You’re already doing it – you just don’t realize it.

        • The GI bill was created in 1944 to soldiers returning from WWII after they defended their country. It provide tuition assistance payment for education or skill, access to affordable mortgages or loans to start a business to allow them to start their life over with.

          Not quite the same as forgiving debt on a loan just to encourage people to vote for you as was Biden’s campaign promise of 2020.

          • The GI BIll was a wage benefit paid by their employers for their work defending their employers. This country owed those young men and women a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they made.

            The students today were given low interest loans as an opportunity to advance their education. They were secured by the tax payers of this country. They have done no service to their community, and are now looking to legally default oon their responsibility to repay their loan without repercussions to their reputation or their credit.

            It becomes fairly obvious this was a bribe to earn votes at the expense of the tax paying community. Shameful!

    • Suz – It is not charity nor compassion when you require others to carry a burden. As a Christian one should be giving of their own wages to help a struggling student. It would be much better to take your tax burden and give that it to someone you know actually needs it rather than handing out money to those who have student debt and can afford to pay their own. Further how someone else gives should be between them and their makers (Matt 6:2). True Charity comes from the heart, not compelled by a politician pandering for votes.

      • ToSirWithLove—“It is not charity nor compassion when you require others to carry a burden.” I agree.

        However I would argue that it is both charitable and compassionate when I happily respond to a struggling soul, carrying a hopeless burden.

        That is my point–as a follower of Christ, I (and Fr. Epps) should be led by His words–
        “And whoever shall compel you to convey his goods one mile, go with him two.” (Matt.
        5:41).

        I also agree with you that all we do (including our financial decisions) are private matters. It was the_wing_t in an earlier post that brought up suggestions that I throw around money at various non-sensical problems. I tried to explain that we all find what is our own part to do.

        With God’s help, I will shoulder the burden and walk the second mile.
        I don’t consider myself holier than anyone. else. I’m just me. Doing what I can.

        • If the burden is truly hopeless, society has provided other recourse to those debts, one such way is in bankruptcy, and the needy are absolved. Debtor prisons no longer exist.

          I find the topic of cancellation for all student loans to be a nonsensical problem myself. And an unfair burden to saddle on others struggling with their own financial issues, perhaps putting their own children through college without racking up indebtedness.

          Instead we had politicians pander to voters favors to be bestowed in return for election results, as the motivation to vote for him/party. Biden made this vow in 2020, and now he’s being demanded to make it good in order to appeal to younger voters.

          Just as the runoff campaigns here promised voters $2000 for everyone regardless of need if we elected two democratic senators here in Georgia. I wonder how many of those that didn’t have the need passed those funds on to those that did.

          I believe this progressive policy creates in our society a sense of entitlement, and that hard work and civic responsibility have no value.

          • I did not receive $2000, nor did my spouse or my child. I guess you can say that my allotment went to someone that needed it.

            And here we go again with the “entitlement, hard work, civic responsibility” BS. More labels for people that are less fortunate than you are.

          • Dawn, unfortunately those that needed it the most didn’t get $2000 either. At best they got $1400. Politicians lie you know. If you didn’t get a stimulus check or tax credit, your joint income must have exceeded $150,000 and your son was claimed as a tax deduction or he made more than $75,000. I doubt he will ever know what hard work truly is. Those that have can take some satisfaction in overcoming obstacles, rather than be held back by people convincing their efforts are in vain.

          • Heh.

            Stimulus 1 – $600, plus stimulus 2 – $1400 = $2000. I guess you misunderstood how that worked. And thanks for the assumption regarding my son, but he’ll be just fine.

            Your thoughts concerning the stimulus appear to be at odds. You mention that people need to struggle/ overcome obstacles and then contradict that by stating that “those that needed it the most didn’t get $2000 either.”

          • I think it was Biden, Warnock and Ossoff that failed to understand how it works.

            The last ditch attempt to raise the check from $600 to $2000 failed on Dec 28, and the $600 check was signed into law.

            Stimulus check 2 — $600 — After being signed into law in December. First disbursements go out on Dec 29th.

            From the irs website

            “IR-2020-280, December 29, 2020

            WASHINGTON — Today, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department will begin delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to millions of Americans who received the first round of payments earlier this year.

            The initial direct deposit payments may begin arriving as early as tonight for some and will continue into next week. Paper checks will begin to be mailed tomorrow, Wednesday, December 30.”

            Jan 4, while stumping in Georgia Biden, Ossoff and Warnock all promise a $2000 checks will go out if elected.

            From CNN Website

            “If you send Jon and the Reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now,” Biden said, making his closing argument for the Democrats at a campaign event in Atlanta on Monday.
            “And if you send (Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler) back to Washington, those checks will never get there,” Biden said. “It’s just that simple. The power is literally in your hands.”

            Third Stimulus check signed into law Mar 11

            Stimulous 3 — $1400

            There were many disappointed when they discovered they would only be getting $1400 in the third check.

            Were they ignorant on Jan 4 to the fact that the law had been signed and checks were rolling out, or were they just being misleading, knowing full and well a new law would be needed and it would only be $1400. Snopes claims they and the public were ignorant, to keep them from being liars.

            As for the stimulus, I was much against it because I felt it failed to provide sufficient funds to those most impacted and used to buy voters instead.

            Much to the same degree as I feel the proposed blanket loan forgiveness of all students fails to address those that need it, and instead is designed to elicit votes. And I am also in favor of some of the forgiveness programs for teachers in inner city schools, and rural medicine programs at both the state and federal level. But the idea of blanket cancellation as is being proposed is asinine. To hand out money in an attempt to buy votes needs to stop.

            As for your confusion, my comment was “Those that have [hard work] can take some satisfaction in overcoming obstacles, rather than be held back by people convincing their efforts are in vain.” This was in reference to being handed a college education by “generational wealth”.

            As for “those in need” of the stimulus check, meant things like feeding their family or keeping the lights on, when no work was available due to lock downs and lack of people using their services. For some it was a life saver, for others it was free money.

            This shotgun approach to handing out trillions of dollars of borrowed money at election time to buy votes needs to stop.

          • Blanket cancellation? Hmmm. Is it really a blanket? Meaning – everyone gets their student loan debt wiped out? That would be a no. You may not agree with who gets forgiven or that they get forgiven at all, but let’s dispense with the stories to try to bolster your absolute nonsense.

          • Hate to break it to you Dawn, but that is what is currently proposed. Biden right now is pitching a $10,000 cancellation for everyone with student load debt while VJ was quoting a $50,000 cancellation of all student loans.

          • From CNBC.COM May 27 — “While running for president, Biden had vowed immediate debt cancellation of $10,000 per borrower, and he hadn’t said anything about limiting the relief to people who earn under a certain amount. Now the administration is looking at imposing income caps of $150,000 for individuals and $300,000 for married couples for the relief, according to The Washington Post.”

          • Lots of speculation, but nothing definitive. The optimum words here are “proposed” and “looking”. There isn’t an actual proposal – so far. Average student loan debt is $32k+. Biden has already said that he will not support $50k and continues to look at $10k which is more likely. That is not “blanket loan forgiveness.” Biden, on numerous occasions, has encouraged Congress to take action and we all know how that will turn out – and after 2024 it will look even worse. As well, he will not make any changes by executive decision because of the challenges likely in court. Finally, changes in regulations could possibly be a path to getting what he wants, but it too will be challenged in the courts. Court challenges will be long and the possibility that a decision will be made before the midterms will be slim.
            Something to remember – we all know Republicans do not support ANY forgiveness. Democrats on the other hand have mixed feelings. The majority would like to see SOME loan forgiveness based on specific parameters. Most Democrats in congress and Biden feel the same way. Of course, the ultra-progressives want it all forgiven, and that’s what you’ve decided to focus on.

            You continue to live in your fantasy and I’ll live in reality.

    • Once again, Suz, brilliant! As long as Fr Epps is making his living as a professional Christian, he ought at least to pay lip service to the teachings of the Christ! (although it seems, as the apostle Paul would say, when Fr E thinks about trying to live up to Christ’s commands, he responds, “God forbid!” LOL)

      Forbes recently did an article about this topic of loan forgiveness, and they made an interesting point people have been putting out on social media — maybe this is what has the white men in this conversation scared: “The Roosevelt Institute brief shows that canceling up to $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower would immediately increase the wealth of Black Americans by 40%.” WOW! here is a way America can instantly help level the playing field for POC who suffer generational disenfranchisement due to history of enslavement and past and present racism, inherent and overt. What Christian would be against that?

        • Dawn, I agree with this. There is a tendency in people to want others to have to work as hard as they did to get where they are; they feel like giving others access to a “short-cut” somehow devalues what they did along the way, but you are exactly right: they don’t really know “how the other half lives,” so what seems like an unfair shortcut to them is really just a leveling of the playing field. The Forbes article went on to show that POC students on average end up with $53K in loans compared to $28K for white students. The starting point is different for each group. (And in that way, Epps as a white man started out closer to the goal than POC, so really he should see HIMSELF as having had an unfair advantage rather than whingeing about others getting one.)

      • Hey, VJax! Thanks for this.

        I am convinced through experience that the greater joy belongs to the donor, rather than the one in need. What an honor and privilege to make a positive difference, whether by small acts or large (such as the one Forbes covered).

        As the Bard writes, “The quality of mercy is not stained…It is twice blessed–it blesseth
        him that gives, and him that takes.” (I thought you might appreciate a quote not from the Bible!).

        • I love that quote about mercy! And I feel like Shakespeare got it while a lot of vocal Christians don’t!

          If I were a professional Christian and had a column in a local online paper, I might write about WHY loan forgiveness is an awesome idea and would help free POC and other struggling young people from the burden of being unable to buy a home or start a family and begin establishing generational wealth, the same as I have had … but that’s just me … and my interpretation of the Bible’s command to “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”

          • Thanks again, Vj—I have been noticing a movement of “Christians Against Christianity” (as this title of a book proclaims). My sister is currently reading another that asks, “if you weren’t a Christian already, would you choose to be one?’

            I agree with you that conservative Christians (as Fr. Epps describes himself) are being challenged by Universal Followers of Christ. Push-back, as Dawn Haddocks (thank you, too!) put it. About time!

            After trying to keep up with this thread, allow me to offer—May Christ bless us when we are in need, overwhelmed and slipping into despair. May Christ bless us when we do all in our power to aid another, throwing them a life-line, not weighing their worthiness. And may Christ bless us when we turn away, clinging to a notion of fiscal fairness or efficacy.

            I maintain the last state is when we are in most need of blessing. How tragic to go through life, never recognizing that from start to finish, it is all about Love.

            And when did Christian leaders stop proclaiming this simple message, replacing it with conservative politics? And why do we sit in the pews, silently?

          • Suz – as I’ve said before, redistributing others earnings isn’t charity, this is plain old politics to gain power. Do explain why someone earning more than $150,000/$300,000 per year needs anything erased from their student loan when the median household income is only $69,000.

            This is an attempt to buy votes from the 34,000,000 who have outstanding student loan debt.

          • The current progressive Democrat process.

            1) Identify a voting block
            2) Convince the voting block they are being marginalized.
            3) Then convince that group it is the [republic/Christians/conservatives] that is marginalizing them.
            4) Collect votes
            5) Rinse, wash and repeat.
            6) When all else fails, throw the race card.

            It took me a while to catch on to the shtick, but when I did, I realized that I might not really be a Democrat.

          • TSWL, it appears you’re upset that a party would want to help people out and *gasp* those same people might vote for politicians in that same party.

            It’s a bit embarrassing that it took you this long to understand how a politician keeps his position.

          • TSWL – Let’s have a little fun.

            The current Republican process.

            1) Identify a voting block.
            2) Convince the voting block that their rights and religious freedoms are being stripped away (fear).
            3) Then convince that group it is the [Democrat/anti-Christ/progressives] that are causing all the ruckus.
            4) Collect votes
            5) Rinse, wash, and repeat.
            6) When all else fails, throw the communism card and add the word “woke” in political conversation.

            If anyone else would like to throw in their version, please do!

          • Dawn, I love your “current Republican process.” Well done! You are killing it in this thread. Thank you for being a cordial and well-spoken voice for forgiveness, mercy, and charity. Suz is a holy fool, and I get a bit too acerbic, I know.

            TSWL, your description of the “current Democratic process” made me chuckle, especially this bit:

            “2) Convince the voting block they are being marginalized.
            3) Then convince that group it is the [republic/Christians/conservatives] that is marginalizing them.”

            Oh, friend, you will have NO TROUBLE convincing POC that they are marginalized in the USA! Health disparities, economic disparities, disparities in the criminal justice system, the list goes on.

            And right now, it’s all too obvious that the right wing is bent on keeping POC marginalized! The left isn’t perfect, God knows, but at least we recognize that oppression is happening and try to make meaningful reforms — or defenses — such as standing up against voter suppression and gerrymandering that further disenfranchise POC … and who are we standing up against in these meaningful reforms and defenses? The right!

            It’s fine if you want to say both major parties in the USA are sell-outs to the capitalist system, but you really can’t deny that one side is at least incrementally more sold-out to keeping the most vulnerable oppressed and further enriching the privileged.

            This is another thing that makes it so sad men like Fr Epps can’t even recognize their privilege or see how forcing their plan for “how to succeed in business” onto young people in marginalized circumstances is wrong and harmful. Epps isn’t even reaping the benefits of the white elite, and yet he’s defending their system. And, by virtue of his collar, he’s doing it in the name of Jesus?

          • TSWL I was characterizing Fr Epss’ column as HIS plan for “how to succeed in business,” tongue-in-cheek because he is telling everyone how to avoid school-loan debt by doing things the way he did them, as STF says further up: “Father Epps was born a white male in the South with enough raw intelligence to master a graduate degree. In other words, he was born on third base, and now he is giving batting instructions.” He is no position to advise marginalized people how they can be as successful as he has been because he started out far ahead of where they start out.

            As for the party most corrupt and most dangerous: I think we can see a good example of it in the response to the pandemic and the vaccination rates. The GOP made vaccines a political issue, and whether or not you are vaccinated today is largely/statistically reflected in how you voted in 2020. Trump counties have the lowest vaccination rates, and Biden counties the highest. People who are vaccinated are least likely to die from COVID, so in this case the more dangerous party is clearly the GOP with its disinformation campaign that is killing its own supporters.

            (I do recognize that Pres Trump himself is vaccinated, and has encouraged his supporters to get vaccinated, but at the same time, the red-blue divide in vaccination rates stands.)

            As for most corrupt, the capitalist cronyism that guides both parties is corrupt. I just feel the right wing is more concerned with preserving the white majority’s place at the top by any means possible, including fascism, and the left is at least making an effort to uplift the most vulnerable and call for more inclusion and liberty for all.

          • VJ, you seem to have forgotten that before the vaccine was ever rolled out, Team Biden sought to diminish the Trump administration accomplishments of getting a vaccine out to the public before the end of the year, by eroding public confidence in the vaccine. I heard those remarks and they resonated with me. And made me think twice about getting the jab. I was perfectly happy hibernating until some time passed and got mine in May.

            But when it really became political, was when the mandates came along. No allowance was even made for people that had previously had COVID and had natural immunity, and Biden attempted to force the issue by executive order.

            The progressives fell in lock step demanding compliance even though it was common knowledge the vaccine was only partially effective at preventing breakthrough cases, and thus couldn’t stop the spread of covid like it was originally touted. Classic liberals demand personal autonomy. They opposed these forces, and become distrustful of their motives when forced or coerced. What was needed was transparency.

            Team Biden owns this one.

            As for both parties being corrupt, I agree, and hence why I want limited federal power, and move more power back with the state/county/city. It’s much easier to move from one state/county/city to another, then it is to move to another country. Like minded people will tend to gather. I have no interest in living on the west coast.

            As long as we keep dividing people by their race, by their religious belief, by their sexual preference instead of by being our neighbor, racism will thrive. Identity politics is a tool of the politician to divide the people for their own power. This country can not thrive unless we all pull together as one family, and stop letting people divide us. We have be responsible for ourselves, and be accountable to our neighbors.

            Federally guaranteed loans were created to open the door to make 1st generation college opportunities available to many. They have interest rates lower than home loans because they are federally guaranteed. This has provided many opportunities for kids that never had a chance before. Not surprising many of those taking advantage of it are POC, with higher loan balances. Providing mass erasures will ultimately doom programs like this in the future because you are erasing debt that many of these people are capable of paying on their own. Just who do you think it will that hurt the most?

            If we will stop calling out race, and concentrate on poverty and this will benefit the races that need it the most. This is how you end racism. Not promote racism by giving special treatment based on a skin color. This is ok to get the ball rolling, but at some point you need to transition.

          • Your first three paragraphs make no sense. More long-winded story telling in an effort to make your story plausible. I agree that Biden did not make an effort to tout Trump’s accomplishment, but to somehow believe that it was his fault because Trump supporters refused to get the vaccine is laughable. Trump supporters hate Biden. Why all of a sudden would he have any influence on their decision making? Those that refused to get the vaccine did so because 1) they don’t believe in science, 2) they have severe trust issues, 3) no one is going to tell them what to do, 4) inconsistent messaging from leaders that used the pandemic as a political tool. As VJ mentioned, with vaccines available and the pandemic’s continuance, overwhelmingly the death toll has not been kind in red country. See Pew Research (www.pewresearch.org/politics/2022/03/03/)
            Regarding student loans, you assert that POC take advantage of student loans and have higher balances. Why do you believe this is? What puts that demographic into this category? I’d like to know what you believe are the reasons? How do you know they are “capable of paying on their own”? If they are capable, then why aren’t they doing so? Did you know that 45-50% of student loan debt is graduate school and beyond? Did you know that they pay at least double the interest rate on grad school loans? It doesn’t give much incentive to want to further educate yourself – does it?

  5. During COVID when people couldn’t work, I could understand deferring payments, and avoiding default.

    But the irony of forcing those that didn’t go to college to pay the tuition for those that did is utterly incredible. How someone could even propose this at a time when this country is facing record inflation brought on by reckless spending and now they want to spend more illustrates just how out of touch they are.

    Inflation is a tax on those that least can afford it and impacts the most. This reminds me of the campaign promises of our two sitting senators to give everybody in the country $2000 if we would just elect them. We’re paying for it now every time with go to the grocery store, or fill up our tank.