During the presidential race in 2020, several candidates talked about the possibility of forgiving millions, if not billions, of dollars of student loans. That rhetoric morphed into the current possibility that somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000 (or even more) per student might be wiped off the books. All of which probably prompted the following conversation overheard at a local bistro recently.

Diner 1: Order whatever you want. Dinner is on me.

Diner 2: Really? Terrific. What prompted this largesse?

Diner 1: Well, I’m about to come into some serious money.

Diner 2: Nobody’s dying, are they?

Diner 1: No, but an “uncle” (wink, wink) of mine is involved.

Diner 2: What’s with the wink, wink? You got something in your eye?

Diner 1: Just tears of joy.

Diner 2: Okay, I give up. What’s going on?

Diner 1: I’m going to get all my student loan money back.

Diner 2: But you don’t have any student loans anymore. You paid them all off. Didn’t we celebrate that last year?

Diner 1: We did indeed. It took a lot of time, but I finally paid off every nickel.

Diner 2: Then how are you getting that money back?

Diner 1: From Uncle Sam. Haven’t you been listening to the news? The government is going to forgive all the student loans.

Diner 2: Yeah, I heard. So how does that affect you?

Diner 1: Well, surely if Uncle Sam’s going to forgive all the current loans, he’ll also pay back the money I spent on mine.

Diner 2: Uh, I hate to tell ya, but I don’t think it works that way.

Diner 1: Whattaya mean?

Diner 2: You don’t get any money back.

Diner 1: Come again?

Diner 2: That loan forgiveness I’m pretty sure is only for people who currently have outstanding student loans.

Diner 1: But what about me?

Diner 2: You don’t have any unpaid student loans. We just established that.

Diner 1: No, I don’t, because I paid them off.

Diner 2: Hmmm. Bad move there, dude.

Diner 1: Let me see if I’ve got this straight. I went thousands of dollars into debt. Then I worked hard every month for years and like clockwork sent in what I owed. And I don’t get any of that back?

Diner 2: ’Fraid not.

Diner 1: Meanwhile, somebody who knowingly took out loans but hasn’t paid them back is going to get a pass?

Diner 2: I think that’s the gist of things, yeah.

Diner 1: How the heck is that fair?

Diner 2: I didn’t say it was fair.

Diner 1: Whose brilliant idea was this?

Diner 2: Well, a couple of folks in Congress are pushing it. And then there’s the White House. It seems to like the idea too.

Diner 1: Did any of them happen to mention who’s going to pay for all these unpaid loans?

Diner 2: There was some mention of the rich.

Diner 1: Define “the rich.”

Diner 2: Well, let’s see. You’ve got a good job, right? And make a good salary?

Diner 1: Pretty good, yeah.

Diner 2: Well, I don’t know for sure, but you might be included in “the rich.”

Diner 1: I see. So, if that’s true, I not only had to pay off my OWN student loans, I might also have to start paying off OTHER people’s loans too.

Diner 2: That sounds about right.

Diner 1: No.

Diner 2: What do you mean, “No”?

Diner 1: Not gonna do it. To quote George Bush, “Wouldn’t be prudent.” If the government wants to forgive those loans, it’ll have to come up with something else.

Diner 2: Such as?

Diner 1: How about cutting the cost of college? I’m just taking a wild guess here, but I would imagine there’s just a little bit of fat in the budgets of most colleges.

Diner 2: What would make you think that?

Diner 1: (pulling out phone) Here. Look at this. Fifty years ago, reportedly the average tuition at a public college was $500 a year, and $1,950 at a private school.

Diner 2: So?

Diner 1: Today, tuition is 30 times higher! Somebody in the ivory towers of academia is making some serious cash.

Diner 2: And you think that includes a bit of financial fat?

Diner 1: It’s a distinct possibility. All I ask is that since Congress likes to investigate everything under the sun, perhaps before it okays spending even more taxpayer cash on forgiving loans, it might want to look at why college costs so much in the first place.

Diner 2: That’s not a bad idea.

Diner 1: Well, I am a college graduate, you know.

©MMXXII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer