Forgiving Student Debt = Reducing the Leverage of the Military?

Demonstrators in Washington, DC last April. Image credit: Anna Moneymaker

Attorneys from six states in the U.S. are now trying to block the implementation of student debt cancellation, shortly after the application to have debt cancelled was released. The original plan would cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for qualifying households. While this is an inadequate amount, considering the average borrower owes about $30,000, in just the soft launch of the application already eight million borrowers had applied for relief.

Why are these six states are trying to keep the administration from implementing this debt cancellation plan? In one letter written by 19 Congresspeople, including some from those same states, decreased military recruitment is offered as a reason to deny people debt relief.

As stated in the letter, “By forgiving such a wide swath of loans for borrowers, you are removing any leverage the Department of Defense maintained as one of the fastest and easiest ways to pay for higher education.” The letter points out that the Army and Navy have failed to reach recruitment goals and that less of the population wants to serve. This is apparently a problem only remedied by ensuring that higher education is only accessible to the rich – or those that do military time!

The fact that free education is a huge incentive in military recruitment efforts in the first place is already unfair. It means that those who otherwise cannot afford higher education often see military service as their only option for obtaining a degree. And if your reason for joining the military is so that you can get an education, what does that say about how the military preys on poor and working people?

And as for these Congresspeople actively advocating against student debt cancellation so that the military can continue to leverage free education as a unique benefit? That’s beyond disgusting.