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Seisachtheia for Students?

The promises given by Senator Sanders and Senator Warren to excuse all of those who have student debt and free them of this financial burden are similar to Solon’s seisachtheia. Solon’s reforms freed everyone of debt. Those is slavery due to debt were freed, and all land was given back to their constitutional owner. Sanders and Warren are running on a platform that would eliminate over 1.5 trillion dollars’ worth of debt and would excuse over 44 million Americans from their contractual agreements. While this sounds good and I believe that the cost of higher education should be affordable for all who want to achieve it, we must learn from history. Solon wrote, “Extravagant hopes in me, but now they are angry and look askance, as if I were their enemy.” (Plutarch Life of Solon, 2.16) All though his heart was in the right place, forgiving over 1.5 trillion dollars’ worth of debt would only add to our increasing deficit and ultimately affect the college institutions ability to function. 

Right now in the US, one of the most common debt areas is student loans. Being in debt post-graduation puts the student behind the eight-ball. Most students who are in debt struggle to pay for day-to-day necessities like rent, groceries and car payments. Over half of the jobs that make over $35,000 a year require a four year degree, but also require experience in the field in order to receive the position. This makes it very difficult for those who are fresh out of college to apply their education. If they were living debt free, they might be able to apply for internships that would give them the required experience but since they must make hefty loan payments, they are forced to settle for low paying jobs in order to make ends meet, thus they fail to further their careers. 

My personal solution for this is to create a program that allows students fresh from high school to apply for a new government program. This program does not have a name yet but it entails that the student must serve in either the military or the Peace Corps for two years and then the government will pay for their education. The law would allow them to apply for colleges directly out of high school and the college must honor their acceptance. Other solutions to the debt crisis is to make community colleges free in every state. Once they obtain their degree, the government will pay for their tuition at their respective state colleges. This would allow students to receive their Associates Degree, save money by living at home, and also allows them to get an internship that would give them the necessary experience they need in order to get a job once they complete their four year degree. 

If we copy Solon’s reforms and just free everyone of debt, the economic repercussions would be unimaginable. I believe that if we just fix the current system and allow for more opportunity and different routes, the problem will fix itself. 

TJ Salu

Word Count: 512

Thune, Sen. John, and Sen. Mark Warner. “How Congress Can Ease Americans’ $1.5 Trillion Student Debt.” Time. Time, August 27, 2019.

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