I am on Paul Holmes's side and a brilliant article by Jeffrey J. Williams in the American Dissent Magazine has helped crystallise my views. He draws a parallel between the burden of debt that is placed upon students from modest backgrounds and the system of indentured labour that existed in colonial America.
One of the goals of the planners of the modern U.S. university system after the Second World War was to displace what they saw as an aristocracy that had become entrenched at elite schools; instead they promoted equal opportunity in order to build America through its best talent. The rising tide of student debt reinforces rather than dissolves the discriminations of class, counteracting the meritocracy.And:
Although it seems as if it crept up on us, student-loan indebtedness is not an accident but a policy. It is a bad policy, corrupting the goals of higher education. The world we inhabit is a good one if you are in the fortunate third without debt, but not nearly so good if you live under its weight. Student debt produces inequality and overtaxes our talent for short-term, private gain. As a policy, we can and should change it.