Mark Cuban still remembers what it was like to live with student loan debt.
The billionaire entrepreneur and investor also says reducing the more than $1.7 trillion in U.S. student debt could be a key to boosting the country’s economy, which is why he says he supports President Joe Biden’s campaign proposal to forgive $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower.
“We don’t want this being a perennial problem. It has to be fixed,” Cuban said about the student debt crisis in an email to Insider on Wednesday. “As far as how much should be forgiven, I’m good with the Biden proposal.”
Cuban has long been outspoken on the issue of student loans. In 2014, he argued that mounting student debt was hurting the U.S. economy by stifling the spending power of recent college graduates, and that reducing some of that debt burden could help inspire young people to spend more.
“That’s the same money that, when you graduated, you used to move out of the house or you went out and spent money that improved the economy and helped companies grow,” Cuban said at the time.
Biden’s proposal would certainly help chip away at the student debt crisis. His campaign proposal would eliminate about $321 billion in debt, wiping the slate clean for roughly 12 million people, according to an estimate from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Some critics – who note that canceling $10,000 per borrower would still leave around 70% of borrowers in debt – want the White House to cancel even more, potentially up to $50,000 per borrower. The average U.S. student loan borrower currently has roughly $30,000 in debt, up from around $10,000 in the 1990s, CNBC reported earlier this month.
Last month, the Biden administration said it would make a decision before the latest freeze on student debt payments expires on Aug. 31. Biden hasn’t recently indicated whether he’ll hew to the number in his campaign promise or not.
The debate is personal for Cuban: He’s no stranger to student loans, and has publicly reminisced about “sleeping on the floor” of a $600-a-month Dallas apartment he shared with five other roommates to save money.
Despite his loan debt and lack of money, he was still able to launch a series of tech companies, ultimately selling one of them — Broadcast.com — to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999. That’s a lot more difficult to achieve today: Today’s average U.S. student loan borrower needs 17 years to pay off their loans, according to the Department of Education.
Cuban blames the exorbitant cost of tuition, which has more than doubled on average over the past 30 years, telling Insider that his biggest gripe is with “ridiculous tuition fees.” He has previously argued that community college should be free and that taking on massive student loan debt to attend a “big name school” isn’t always worth the cost.
“Go to a school you can afford. A community college that offers transferable credits is always smart,” he tweeted in 2019.
Cuban has even argued against completely wiping out all student debt, asserting that such a move would just allow universities to continue hiking their tuition. “All it does is bail out the universities,” he said in 2019.
In 2014, Cuban suggested capping the maximum amount of private loans per student at $10,000 per year, a move he said would force schools to lower their tuition and costs to maintain enrollment. On Wednesday, he reiterated that the cycle of students borrowing money to cover large tuition fees, only to get saddled with long-term debt, needs to be disrupted somehow.
“How do we keep students from repeating the same mistakes?” he said.