TV host and writer Mike Rowe said he does "not support" student loan forgiveness, noting that it would mostly benefit the wealthy in a Monday Facebook post.
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The "Dirty Jobs" TV show host also said he believes some students have been "conned into borrowing ridiculous sums of money to purchase degrees that never lead to an actual job."
"My reasons for opposing student loan forgiveness are not a secret. I've written at length on this page about the fundamental unfairness of doing such a thing -- especially to the millions of Americans who have paid their college debts, and sacrificed much to do so," Rowe said.
He continued: "I've also said that forgiving student debt would send a terrible message to the very same universities that already gouge their customers with sky-high tuition. Tuition will never come back to earth if we bail out those who borrowed more than they could repay."
Rowe pointed to a Dec. 10 New York Times report explaining how student debt cancellation would disproportionately benefit the wealthy, citing an analysis from the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank.
Progressive lawmakers have been ramping up calls for the Biden administration to cancel or forgive student loan debt once he takes office, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has a plan to forgive up to $50,000 in student debt for households making less than $100,000 and offer some relief to households that make more than $100,000.
Under Warren's plan, however, 60% of American households would only get 34% of the benefit, according to an April 2019 analysis from Brookings.
The top 40% of U.S. households owe almost 60% of the outstanding educational debt and make almost three-quarters of the payments, recently released data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances shows.
Meanwhile, the lowest-income 40% of households hold just under 20% of the outstanding debt and make only 10% of the payments.
Brookings' analysis also raises the question of whether canceling student loan debt for some would be fair to those who have already spent years working to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in debt, which, as Warren and other lawmakers have mentioned, can set graduates back from taking other large steps, such as buying homes and starting families.
According to the Federal Reserve, there are about 45 million borrowers who owe roughly $1.6 trillion in federal and private student loan debt as of June 2020. That's up from $250 billion in 2004.
"I pity every young man and woman who is struggling today under the yoke of a crushing student loan. I sincerely do. You were quite possibly sold a bill of goods. You were very likely pressured by your friends, your parents, or your guidance counselor, to attend the 'right' school," Rowe wrote. "...But that's not my fault. Nor is it the fault of the American people. The fault belongs to you, and so does the debt.
The TV host has given away millions of dollars through his charity, The Mike Rowe Foundation, to support those looking for trade work and training that does not require a college degree, such as plumbing and electric work. Those interested can apply for a "work ethic" scholarship through the foundation.