By RICHIE MALOUF
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – More than three of four military veterans oppose President Joe Biden’s proposal to forgive student loan debt, according to new polling.
The poll by Mission Roll Call, a veterans advocacy group, shows 76.6% of U.S. veterans are against the idea. Doing so would take away from the sacrifice veterans made to earn higher education financial assistance in the first place, the group says.
“There are other ways to do this … forgiving them outright is kind of a slap in the face of veterans who have served and have counted on that to move forward and have really sacrificed quite a bit to get that same thing. To have, suddenly, you know, the same thing offered, for zero sacrifice and burden is essentially going to four years of school instead of four years in the Army, that’s a big difference,” said Darrell Owens, a veteran at the America’s Warrior Partnership organization.
President Biden has yet to announce his plan on forgiving student debt publicly, but the Biden administration reportedly plans to cancel $10,000 per borrower, per The Washington Post.
Veterans have had help paying for college since the introduction of the G.I. bill in 1944, which provides veterans educational assistance after their time in the military has concluded. More recently, in 2008, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act went into effect, allowing veterans who had already been to school to use that money for their children’s education instead.
The added assistance acts as a recruiting tool for the Army, which is having difficulty reaching recruiting goals this year.
Many men and women enlist in the Army to help pay for their education or their children’s future education, Mr. Owens said. When that incentive goes away, fewer people will apply to enter the armed forces, he added.
“You’re going to add additional recruiting challenges, saying, you know, why would I sign up for the Army and get the G.I. bill to pay for college when you could just go to college by yourself, take out student loans and have them forgiven later when it’s politically convenient,” Mr. Owens said.
Forgiving student loan debt could lead to such a decrease in recruitment numbers that it raises challenges for U.S. national security, Mr. Owens said.
“I think that raises significant challenges for national security by far because we gotta be able to recruit, we gotta be able to keep those manpower numbers going, and we need volunteers,” he said. “We need strong, smart, capable individuals to come serve.”