Student loans are a harsh reality for students all over the country. Now that they’ve earned their degree, the question comes up of how to pay the thousands of dollars that they borrowed back. Many students go to school and focus on their grades, but don’t worry about how to pay them back until after they graduate. The numbers can come as a shock for the 44 million borrowers in the United States who have collectively borrowed $1.5 trillion. Over 1.3 million of these graduates owe six figures.

More than 50 percent of college graduates need to borrow money to finish their degrees. Some may be eligible for student loan forgiveness programs that forgive part or all of their debt as long as they meet very specific eligibility requirements. Are total forgiveness programs really the answer to the crisis? Let’s examine a few proposed loan forgiveness programs on the table.

Elizabeth Warren’s Plan

The primary downfall to Elizabeth Warren’s plan is that it looks to eliminate student loan debt, but ignores the high costs of higher education that created the crisis. The cost for one year of public college averages $10,230, but more than doubles to $21,370 when you factor in room and board.

Another drawback is that forgiveness is available for up to $50,000 for households making less than $100,000. It doesn’t help those who worked for advanced degrees or entrepreneurs who make more than $250,000 per year. It penalizes them for advancing, and Warren suggests implementing an additional 2% tax on families earning $50 million or more.

Forgiveness Won’t Work

It appears that total loan forgiveness has become a large talking point, but isn’t likely to ever get implemented because it’s not feasible. Some individuals feel that it’s unfair because they didn’t take out loans or they have already paid theirs back. The political support for these programs is lacking in Congress to get anything passed.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s likely that there isn’t going to be a major proposal for blanket loan forgiveness. Income-based repayment options for 15 to 20 years are currently in place for low-income families.

Alternative Options

A more suitable solution would be to modify the existing systems to accommodate more borrowers with less stringent requirements. It opens regulations and makes forgiveness programs more accessible, easier to understand, and simpler to regulate.

Borrowers need to look at the big picture and plan ahead for how they’re going to pay back the funds instead of hoping for a blanket loan forgiveness proposal to pass