Brow Beat

Millennial Ambassador Hasan Minhaj Explains Student Debt (and Post Malone) to Congress

Comedian Hasan Minhaj called on Congress to rein in “predatory, for-profit loan servicing companies” on Tuesday in prepared statements before members of the House Financial Services Committee.

“I think it’s a huge problem that the youth of America have to bombard their favorite rapper or pop musician and ask them to pay back their student loans,” said Minhaj, the Daily Show alum and host of Netflix’s Patriot Act, echoing past comments made by the author of this post, who is mired in student loan debt.

“We even tell kids today, ‘Look, if you don’t go to college, you might as well get a face tattoo,’ ” Minhaj told Congress. “And then, they point to Post Malone, and we’re like, ‘OK! That’s one guy!’ ”

A Grammy-nominated rap artist, Malone is “a very popular musician,” as Minhaj took pains to explain to the legislative body, whose average age, according to the Congressional Research Service, is 57.6 years old—slightly younger than the parents of this post’s author, who do not take the student loan crisis seriously.

Earlier this year, Minhaj devoted a full episode of his Netflix series to the student loan crisis, which featured, among other telling moments, a survey of his own studio audience’s college debt load. Between the 200 individuals polled, Minhaj’s audience owed a collective $6 million, a sum that this blogger’s parents did not find persuasive.

In an effort to sway lawmakers, Minhaj highlighted the stark contrasts between current tuition costs and the more modest pricing for higher education enjoyed in past decades when many current members of Congress had attended college.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, who graduated from Los Angeles State College (now Cal State, Los Angeles) in 1971, paid approximately $1,000 per year for her undergraduate degree, adjusted for inflation. Today’s Cal State students pay more than five times more, averaging about $6,000 per year. Rep. Peter King, R–New York, a private school alum of St. Francis College, who graduated in 1965, paid an approximate annual tuition of $10,000 per year in today’s dollars, according to Minhaj—$15,000 less per year than the average St. Francis student in 2019.

Despite these runaway prices, real wages, Minhaj pointed out, have only gone up 16 percent in the past three decades. “Colleges are objectively way more expensive,” he added. “And yet borrowers are still treated like deadbeats because the government has put their financial futures in the hands of predatory, for-profit loan servicing companies.”

Minhaj emphasized that loan services companies, including Navient, whose representatives also spoke before the committee, were selected by the federal government without having to compete to provide better services to loan recipients. “They will advise you to go into loan forbearance instead of income-based repayment plan,” he said, “which would probably be better for you. That simple misinformation is a problem.”

In a plea, ultimately, for a federal student loan debt forgiveness program, Minhaj concluded his statements by saying, “Really, all I’m asking today is, ‘Why can’t we treat our student borrowers the way we treat our banks?’ Because: 44 million Americans? That is ‘too big to fail.’ ” Seriously, Mom? Dad? Are you watching this?