In Praise of Income-Driven Repayment Reforms

By Sameer Gadkaree and Indivar Dutta-Gupta


College students take on debt because they believe higher education is risk-free and will pay off. But for too many students, especially those from families with low income and low wealth, this is no longer true.

While college continues to pay off for many, its skyrocketing costs—driven in part by decades of declining state investment—can make it a risky proposition for the very students who stand to benefit most from a degree. This system exacerbates long-standing gender and racial wealth gaps, with the greatest risks falling upon those who have the fewest resources to begin with. Though students of all races are harmed by the current system, pre-COVID data show that 12 years after starting college, only Black borrowers typically owe more on student loans than they borrowed.

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