Report: Biden’s College Plan Would Pay for Itself in 10 Years. Here’s Why That Matters in NC.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Delaware in September 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

By Billy Ball

October 16, 2020

With 1.2 million North Carolinians holding a staggering $44 billion in student loan debt, the state’s debt rose faster in the last decade than all but one state. 

North Carolina is known for its preeminent place in national college rankings. But a report last year that found the state’s student debt rising faster than all but one other state was the wrong kind of ranking.

That report from the Center for Responsible Lending found debt rocketed 285% in the last decade. Need some more grim numbers? The report found about 1.2 million North Carolinians were holding about $44 billion in student debt. 

If that sounds astronomical, it is. 

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A new report from Georgetown University might offer some promise for strapped North Carolinians however. The report found Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan for a dramatic revamp of higher education debt could pay for itself within 10 years. 

As CNBC wrote: “The team at Georgetown estimates that after 11 years, the Biden initiative would cost $73 billion per year, but would be completely offset by the associated increase in tax revenue to a whopping $186.8 billion as workers earn more due to their advanced education and training.”

And, as CNBC noted, every state has something to gain or lose in this debate. Perhaps that’s why student debt has increasingly become a part of the political conversation, at least among Democrats. The candidates for president have, no surprise, significant differences on this front, as NPR reported.  

President Trump has not said much about broad student loan forgiveness, focusing instead of school choice initiatives, although Democratic nominee Joe Biden has, among his proposals, called for cancellation of $10,000 in debt for every American. 

He’s also said that public colleges, historically Black universities and minority-serving institutions should be tuition-free for anyone making less than $125,000 a year, a sweeping change to the country’s higher education system. 

Biden has also called for making community colleges tuition free for two years, while investing $50 billion in workforce training programs. 

“I think it’s worth the money,” Anthony Carnevale, economist, professor and director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, told CNBC.

It’s something of a silent crisis in this country. People don’t like to chat about their debts. But the Biden plan could demystify the problem.


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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