May 02, 2022

Podcasts in the Classroom - Current Events Edition: The Future of Student Loans

Is student debt really going to be canceled? Do most people regret taking out student loans? Answers to these questions and more in this week's Podcasts in the Classroom. 

This week’s Podcasts in the Classroom uses a variety of shorter, readily available podcasts to survey the current state of student loans.  

Student Loans are usually categorized as “good debt,” given that they are used to invest in a student’s human capital (of course, with strict qualifications).  But the pandemic seems to have given many students reason to rethink their overall education plans as well as their financing.  Did they want to pay on-campus prices for online classes?  Affordability and borrowing became a bigger issue, the loan payback moratorium has been extended numerous times, repayment and forgiveness programs were revamped, and the schools themselves have grappled with their own finances and their role in supporting their students.  These recent headlines are aimed to inspire discussion of the topic.

Here are some 2-4 minute Marketplace podcasts discussing these headlines.

  • 4/8 Marketplace Morning Report Should colleges help students pay for basic living costs?
  • 4/20 Marketplace Morning Report Repaying student loans is a burden, but most people 40 and under don’t regret taking them out.
  • 4/20 Marketplace “Canceling student debt is the quickest way to narrow the racial wealth gap.”

 Here are some relevant Marketplace Minute podcasts.

  • 4/5 Closing Bell  Further extension of payment moratorium through August was announced
  • 4/21 Morning Report Thousands of loans should have been forgiven but weren’t.


Determine how much time you want to devote to this activity, and select podcasts to provide students with background information. Here are some suggested discussion questions. These questions can be answered individually, in groups, or as a class.

  1. How important do you think the student loan repayment moratorium has been for borrowers during the pandemic?  What incentive did people have to pay if they could afford to during the moratorium? Do you think the most recent postponement was necessary?
  2. How do you think the pandemic has changed attitudes of the schools towards helping to support their students beyond tuition and academic support (i.e. food pantries and rental assistance?)  
  3. How “costly” do you feel student loan payments really are for borrowers when they postpone achieving major financial goals, like savings, homeownership, and parenthood?  Do people feel the trade-off is worth it?
  4. What arguments were made in favor of forgiving the student loan debt of lower income people?  What sort of impact, if any, might this have on the Department of Education budget?

If you use this assignment in your class, please let us know how it went!

About the Authors

Ren Makino

Ren has been working part-time at NGPF since 2014, interning through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, after graduating from college in 2020, he joined the team to work full-time. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an MBA in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducts student workshops, and develops finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

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