How student loan forgiveness could have financial impact

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In February, President Donald Trump announced he wants to put an end to a popular student loan forgiveness program, a program that has been a huge talking point among politicians.

Americans owe about $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. For perspective, that's about twice the budget for the United States Department of Defense and around 22 times the budget for our country's education programs.

RELATED: President Trump proposes ending student loan forgiveness program for the 4th time

Either way, mass student loan forgiveness is the platform today's candidates are standing on as they look to grab the votes of millennials.

But is it realistic? ABC11 asked expert economist Dr. Mike Walden.

"It's not that we can't do it. It's 'do we want to do that?'" said Walden. "And then what message does that send? If you get in trouble the government is going to bail you out."

In other words, is it ethical? Vermont Sen. Bernie Sander's plan would tax Wall Street, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren would tax the wealthy.

"Do we want to help people if they do things right, they're going to do quite well economically over time. Do we want to help them as opposed to those who those folks who aren't going to go to college and maybe struggle?" Walden said.

Studies have even found that mass debt cancellation could widen the wealth gap between white and black households while somehow sliding in a silver lining.

"So I think if we were to do that. It would accelerate the economy slightly but again the bigger issue is equity," Walden said.

And for that, the answer could lie in education reform.

"What can we do to make college more efficient?"

President Trump has proposed several education reform programs. Most notably a recently signed bill that would fund free education for some trade programs.

Former Vice President Joe Biden also hopes to offer free community college tuition for two years.
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