Around 800,000 Minnesotans impacted by Supreme Court ruling on student loans

Approximately 800,000 Minnesotan’s impacted by Supreme Court ruling on student loans

Approximately 800,000 Minnesotan's impacted by Supreme Court ruling on student loans

The latest statewide data from 2021 showed 63% of Minnesota graduates with a bachelor’s degree had student loan debt. If you include graduate and two-year degrees, LeadMN, a non-profit representing a large portion of Minnesota public college students, estimated the decision impacts 800,000 Minnesotans.

Aidan Dillon, a year after graduating from the University of Minnesota, said he’s working multiple jobs to pay his bills which, so far, have not included thousands in federal student loans.

“At this point, it’s looking at almost paying another rent,” he said, referring to his upcoming monthly payments.

“Right now, it’s already, like, paycheck to paycheck for me.”

He’s one of an estimated 43 million Americans staring down student loan debt they thought they were off the hook for.

Terese, a graduate of the private school St. Catherine University, was not in support of loan forgiveness.

“If you choose to go into that financial obligation, you should fulfill it,” she said, calling it a lesson in accountability for young adults that she said would be defeated by loan forgiveness.

“I get it, you know. You got to pay for what you signed up for,” Dillon responded. “But I think, you know, we were told, or we were promised something else when we graduated college, and instead, now it’s just, it’s the norm to have insane amounts of debt for just wanting an education and wanting, you know, to have a career.”

“It’s almost like a mortgage,” added University of Wisconsin-River Falls political science professor Neil Kraus. “And when you have an economy where wages aren’t keeping up, then you have sort of the perfect storm. And that’s why we had a movement for debt relief in the first place.”

These days, he said, that’s the reality for the vast majority of students, noting that 20 to 30 years ago, public higher education was a fraction of the cost “even controlling for inflation.”

While Kraus said debt relief in any form would help millions, he also said that the one-time forgiveness plan is more of a Band-aid than a solution.

“It’s like, we don’t even think about public higher education as a public good anymore. And I think that, ultimately, that has to change,” he concluded.

“Because until we really think about that, then the problem with student loans is only going to get worse.”

The state legislature could act to lessen debt in the long term by opting to fund public higher education more like K-12 and most other public services, Kraus said. He added that in recent decades, states — including Minnesota — shifted away from that, pushing the cost burden onto students and their families.