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Commentary By Jason L. Riley

Student-Loan Forgiveness Raises a Question About College

Education Higher Ed

Are too many young people attending to begin with? Degrees have benefits for many, but not for all.

Some 20 million students will head off to college and university this fall, and we wish all of them well. But are we allowed to ask whether that number is too high?

Economists call it the “fallacy of composition,” which is the assumption that what’s true for members of a group must also be true for the group as a whole. To use a popular example: It’s true that if someone stands up in a football stadium, that person will be able to see better. But it’s not true that if everyone stands up, everyone will have a better view.

Much public support for President Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan rests on the same faulty logic. Just because some will benefit from a four-year degree in pay and choice of jobs, it doesn’t follow that everyone will. Yes, the student-debt problem stems from the dramatic rise in college costs in recent decades. But it’s also a function of too many young people who have little to gain from four more years of classroom instruction being tempted to take out loans and attend college anyway.

This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal (paywall)


Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator. Follow him on Twitter here.


This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal