College graduate
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Reducing Student Loan Debt and Travel Companies

Should some debt of student loans be cut or forgiven?

Joseph R. Biden officially announced a three-part plan earlier today, Wednesday, August 24, 2022 to provide financial relief to the working families of the United States as they continue to recover from the stresses and strains which are associated with the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — and part of that plan is to provide up to $20,000.00 in debt cancellation of student loans.

Reducing Student Loan Debt and Travel Companies

This plan by the current president of the United States offers targeted debt relief as part of a comprehensive effort to address the burden of growing college costs and make the student loan system more manageable for working families, as the Department of Education of the United States will:

  • Provide targeted debt relief to address the financial harms of the pandemic, fulfilling the President’s campaign commitment. The Department of Education will provide up to $20,000.00 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000.00 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000.00 — or $250,000.00 for married couples. No high-income individual or high-income household — in the top five percent of incomes — will benefit from this action. To ensure a smooth transition to repayment and prevent unnecessary defaults, the pause on federal student loan repayment will be extended one final time through December 31, 2022. Borrowers should expect to resume payment in January 2023.
  • Make the student loan system more manageable for current and future borrowers by:
    • Cutting monthly payments in half for undergraduate loans. The Department of Education is proposing a new income-driven repayment plan that protects more low-income borrowers from making any payments and caps monthly payments for undergraduate loans at five percent of the  discretionary income of a borrower — half of the rate that borrowers must pay now under most existing plans. This means that the average annual student loan payment will be lowered by greater than $1,000.00 for both current and future borrowers.
    • Fixing the broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by proposing a rule that borrowers who have worked at a nonprofit, in the military, or in federal, state, tribal, or local government, receive appropriate credit toward loan forgiveness. These improvements will build on temporary changes the Department of Education has already made to Public Service Loan Forgiveness, under which more than 175,000 public servants have already had greater than $10 billion in loan forgiveness approved.
  • Protect future students and taxpayers by reducing the cost of college and holding schools accountable when they hike up prices. The president championed the largest increase to Pell Grants in over a decade and one of the largest one-time influxes to colleges and universities. To further reduce the cost of college, the president will continue to fight to double the maximum Pell Grant and make community college free. Meanwhile, colleges have an obligation to keep prices reasonable and ensure borrowers get value for their investments, not debt they cannot afford. This administration has already taken key steps to strengthen accountability, including in areas where the previous administration weakened rules. The Department of Education is announcing new efforts to ensure student borrowers get value for their college costs.

Younger people have been incessantly and repeated pounded with the message as to the importance of higher education throughout their years of development — to the point where they may believe no alternative exists — but that message typically does not include the responsibility which comes with paying back what likely becomes an exorbitant debt…

…so who should pay for that education — the student or the taxpayer?

Before answering that question, one industry has plenty of jobs in which a degree is technically not required: travel.

Each of the three major legacy airlines in the United States claim that you can become a flight attendant without having earned a degree — the only educational requirement from both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines is to have graduated with a high school diploma or General Educational Development certification — although American Airlines adds to its requirements that a “college education or two years’ customer service experience preferred”, which suggests that the other airlines likely prefer graduates with degrees from accredited institutions of higher education as well…

…never mind the fact that flight attendants are required to endure between six weeks and eight weeks of training by the airline, which should satisfy the requirements for doing their jobs well — and even then, not all of them are happy once they are chosen for the job.

The median pay for a flight attendant in 2021 was $61,640.00 per year, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States.

As for lodging, you can apply for the currently open position of Director, Brand Communications – Focused Service & All-Suites at Hilton as one of numerous examples with which a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, Communications, or a related field is “useful” — but not required. Additional corporate positions with major international lodging companies which pay salaries reasonably well are available with which a degree from an accredited institutions of higher education is not required to be considered.

Those who want to pursue a degree in hospitality can expect to pay between $3,131.00 for an Associate’s degree at a two-year college to as much as $116,224.00 for four years with an undergraduate degree. A graduate degree — such as a Master’s degree — can cost up to an additional $90,000.00…

…but the median pay for a lodging manager is $59,430.00 per year or $28.57 per hour, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States — and a college degree is usually not required.

Despite many jobs in the travel industry not requiring a degree from an accredited institution of higher education — aside from such jobs as customer service, housekeeping, front desk associate, or reservations agent — the conundrum still arises as to the choice between two applicants: the one with the college degree will usually win out over the applicant with only a high school diploma.

Final Boarding Call

I have been of the belief that higher education ideally should be available free to anyone who wants it — provided that each person is academically qualified and can justify the reasons why investing in a college degree is a proposition that would benefit the taxpayers of the United States — so that the United States can remain as a strong competitor economically with other countries in the world…

…but the problem with that ideal is that anytime the federal government of the United States intervenes with what should be a free market pertaining to higher education, tuition keeps rising — and that does not even include the reality that higher education is simply not for everyone. After all, that money is guaranteed to institutions which offer legitimate undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Those institutions in turn charge tens of thousands of dollars per year — and, sometimes, per semester — solely for tuition, which does not include the cost of books, food, lodging, or other necessities, services, optional items, or amenities.

Primarily because of the runaway inflation of the overall cost of higher education — despite my earning both a Bachelor of Fine Arts undergraduate degree and a Master of Business Administration graduate degree — I am not as adamant about the importance of higher education. I have always firmly believed that the best education is through personal experiences — especially while traveling…

…but plenty of jobs do exist — including in the travel industry — which do not require a degree. The competition is fierce, though; and a college degree likely helps.

This leads to the following questions: should student debt be cut by the federal government of the United States — or does the borrower need to be fiscally responsible for paying off the entire debt to which he or she originally agreed? With the plethora of opportunities that are available in the travel industry — let alone other industries which pay reasonably well — should higher education from an accredited institution even be considered because of the potentially substantial burden of debt?

What would you suggest would be the solution to this growing problem?

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

  1. This “relief” plan is nothing but another government welfare program that steals from one person through compulsory taxes and gives to another person. Under no circumstances should a free country be required to fund the optional activities of another.

    I am a single parent with three kids in college. I KNOW the financial struggles. We are not wealthy. My kids are required to earn merit-based scholarships to attend college. If they will not work hard enough in high school and continue to do so in college to earn their own way, they should not be there.

    My kids will indeed financially benefit from this bill. It is still completely and absolutely wrong.

    The U.S. already offers free education through 12th grade in this country. Many, many choose not to fully take advantage of this free ride and, subsequently, fail to excel in their high school education. Yet, now we want to social promote them through a high school diploma them dump them in college for free. Countless millions of dollars are already wasted in states on teachers unions, school bureaucrats, and experimental learning for younger students with very spotty results. Throwing more money at underperforming students for college use is ridiculous.

    ALL monies paid to a college should be funded by the student, his family, private organizations, or MERIT-based scholastic programs (like Georgia’s HOPE/ZELL scholarships) that are 100% earned and not handed out based on income.

    Income disparities in this country are real. And the ability to rise above them is also very real. This is done through extremely hard work, grit, and perseverance – not through handouts.

    I am so disappointed in the seemingly weekly handouts our current administration is dumping upon us – while just adding to the true financial/ tax burdens of working class people in our nation. Are people really so blinded by “free” that they do not see this?

  2. I’m generally against broad student loan cancellation. I believe it sends the wrong message. However, I’m a fan of the following:

    -Income Driven Repayment with loan forgiveness after a set period. Ranging from 10 years for public sector employees to 20 years for private sector. (This is already generally written into law by a Republican led Congress and is written into all master promissory notes – so there is no hand out, it is the bargain struck between the borrower and government lender).
    -Income Driven Repayments should have a floor, borrowers shouldn’t get $0 payments towards forgiveness. They need to have som skin in the game.

    Overall cancelling $10-20k does nothing but reward most of the people who didn’t finish college – finishing a 4-year degree, even at a low cost public university is more then $20k…

    But, the whole system needs to get fixed, especially grad plus loans. The run away inflation with graduate and professional school is truly insane.

  3. I’m sure all of the cab drivers, hotel clerks and plumbers are thrilled to be able to help contribute their tax dollars to help pay for other people’s college bills.

    This is so obviously just a move to buy votes that it cannot help but piss people off.

  4. Many colleges waste a lot of money. There is a role for research but teaching of undergraduates is very cheap. All you need is a teacher and a room.

    The Medicaid system doesn’t allow hospitals and doctors to name their price nor are they paid full price. The same should be for universities. The way it is now, they keep raising their tuition.

  5. I think many people are given the wrong advice that they “need” to have a college degree. Most high school students don’t even know what they want to do when they graduate college when they start down that path. Also, blame most corporations for requiring a college degree as an afterthought when doing a job posting or coming up with a job description. Do you really need a college degree to be an insurance adjuster or for an entry-level job at a bank, consulting company, travel company, etc? No, you shouldn’t but those companies basically require it or their HR systems will automatically reject applicants that don’t check that box. It’s crazy. On top of that, they will hire a person with a degree over even considering someone without a degree even if that degree has nothing to do with the business they are in. On top of this many young people will end up with a career that doesn’t even need to have a degree. They will go into a trade job, construction, etc. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world don’t have a college degree because they knew it was a waste of time and money. You can also blame the colleges for having inflated tuitions due to waste, greed, and culture. Many schools have an agenda that doesn’t match reality. Do some people need to have higher education as a specialist? Sure. I want my doctor to have a degree but I don’t care if my travel agent, auto mechanic, loan officer, insurance agent, manufacturing expert, or many other people do. I also think that as Gen Z and younger people grow into the labor market that they will start rejecting the concept of college degrees for various reasons. They will either social engineer around it, won’t be able to afford it, or don’t want to waste the time or extraverted effort. This combined with a lack of interest in hours of online learning without any college life party experience may kill that “normal” route. Two of my kids will likely benefit from this latest welfare for votes approach but if President Biden really wanted to fix college costs he would have just lowered the college loan interest rates to 0% or less than 1% to make repayment more affordable and also came up with a plan to cap the cost of tuition at publicly funded colleges (something the states should have already done). This new plan is like giving a drunk a bottle of whiskey while stealing $1,000 from every single person in the USA to pay this $300,000,000,000+ bill.

    Good post on this topic. There are many areas of travel that don’t require a degree. You left off-ground support employees, airport workers, air traffic controllers any many others.

  6. This is a good thing to do. You left out that this applies to graduate loan debt. I went to law school at 43 after 20 years of not working because I was supporting my ex-husband’s submarine officer career. I was only accepted as a 4 year PT student as I was considered a risky student and got no scholarships. Law school awards their scholarships when you are accepted, and despite my outperforming most of the scholarship students, I never got a half tuition scholarship. So I graduated at 47 with $125k in debt. I do the same job as a public defender, but as a private contractor meaning no benefits and a very low hourly rate (for many years, I earned $50 an hour.) So I didn’t qualify to have my student loans forgiven after 10 years. My Federal loans were bought privately, so there has been interest on them all during Covid. So now that I am 65, and should only be saving for retirement, I still need to pay on these loans for another 9 years! And I’ve been doing a public interest job for 17 years!

    1. Not to be mean but uhhhh… Look, you put yourself in a position that most people of your age and situation absolutely wouldn’t have. Now, you’re in a tight spot with your retirement because of what I really can’t call anything but poor decision making and fiscal irresponsibility. I’m glad that you were able to do work that you saw as fulfilling but poor decisions absolutely should NOT be subsidized.

    2. Kudos for continuing your education in your 40s. That said, it was your choice to go to law school and your choice to incur debt to do so. Plenty of intelligent people do not go to law school – because it is too expensive for their budget. They are now forced to pay for your experience. That is theft!

      Millions of people work hard their whole lives and will never earn $50 an hour, and yet they are saddled with paying for your welfare handout. You should ashamed to transfer your debt to others.

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