Giving Compass' Take:

• Beth Akers argues that the solution to the student loan problem is a middle-path: loan forgiveness for those who make income-based repayments for a set number of years. 

• Will this plan serve those who need it most? Can it be improved? 

• Read a plan to target student loan forgiveness for low-income families

Some borrowers do need help. These include those who borrow but fail to earn a degree and those who have attended some of the high-cost, low-reward programs often offered by for-profit colleges.

We rely on our system of higher education to provide economic opportunity, and when it fails, the government should step in. But that doesn’t have to mean across-the-board debt forgiveness. In fact, the feds are already playing an important role — the system just needs a few tweaks.

The US currently has robust safety nets on federal student lending that should be providing the relief that distressed borrowers need.

For example, income-driven repayment plans for federal student loans allow borrowers to make payments that are determined by their ability to pay, based on their earnings and family composition. If a borrower continues to find repayment unaffordable for an extended period, they’ll have their debts forgiven. (Forgiveness comes after 10 years of repayment for borrowers working in nonprofits and government and after 20 years for borrowers working in the private economy.)

The system is designed to relieve borrowers of debt when it is truly unaffordable.

To fix the system, Congress needs to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which has been due for nearly a decade, so that a streamlined safety net can be put in place to protect borrowers who are in trouble and support borrowers with the means to pay.

Read the full article about a middle-path fix for student loans by Beth Akers at New York Post.