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Letters to the Editor: If we cancel student debt today, what about future loans?

Students participate in a graduation ceremony with a U.S. flag flying in the background.
Students participate in a graduation ceremony at Pasadena City College in 2019. In the U.S., about 45 million borrowers owe $1.8 trillion in education debt.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: While I sympathize with people struggling with student loan repayment, I believe one issue that needs to be addressed is how to handle this issue in the future. (“Here’s why the arguments against canceling student debt make no sense,” column, May 18)

Students taking out loans today will be questioning repayment a few years from now. Will they be able to get relief?

We need sensible ways to deal with this now that will be effective in the years ahead. Simply saying, “we will forgive $10,000 in debt today” without a plan for those incurring debt tomorrow won’t work.

Debbie Cassettari, Chino Hills

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To the editor: Thanks to Michael Hiltzik for his very interesting and important column on student debt.

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The cost of education has skyrocketed over time, and generally it has not been tied to areas of study. However, one’s major in college largely determines starting pay and income growth over time, resulting in many educated people having high student debt but not high income.

Any debt relief plan should maximize debt reduction on a sliding income scale, with an earnings cut-off of around $125,000 per year. This would allow for growth of middle class.

Raju Yenamandra, Thousand Oaks

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To the editor: Mostly I agree with Hiltzik that for a variety of sound reasons student loan debt should be forgiven, but it seems to me that he ignores a very important matter — the taxation issue.

When a loan is forgiven, the amount is considered income to the “recipient” and must be reported as such in the year of forgiveness. Now, this gnarly matter is probably not insurmountable, and I believe that this particular can of taxation worms has already been partially opened and kicked down the road to 2026, in legislation having to do with COVID-19 relief.

But surely the taxation of student loan forgiveness is a huge and pressing issue that should not be ignored.

John de Jong, Long Beach

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To the editor: The last few words in Hiltzik’s column identify the root cause of today’s student debt crisis — “the more the value of higher education will come into question.”

I am a retired financial advisor, and if a client asked my advice on incurring debt to pursue a college degree, I would suggest that they investigate how the knowledge gained would allow them to service the debt.

Most people currently having difficulty servicing their college debt did not make my suggested analysis. They should have questioned the value of a college education. I don’t believe that I have any responsibility to bail them out.

Larry Hart, Tarzana


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