Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

As I write this column, my screen is split between the document I’m typing and live coverage of the Supreme Court case deciding the fate of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. I imagine I am not the only college student who has done this within the past week.

Rising college tuition costs, which push college students to take on overwhelming amounts of student loans, have left us drowning in debt even before we can enter the workforce and attempt to pay it off. 

Like many other students, the last thing I want to do is spend my future paychecks paying off an obscene amount of debt. I would much rather use that money to travel, invest and buy a home, all of which would benefit my future and my family.  

The choice to attend college is not just about receiving an education, but it is also about being closer to high-paying employment opportunities. However, student loan debt ends up being one of the main reasons why homeownership and financial stability are inaccessible to many. It seems that by making the choice to attend college — or trying to increase our chances of financial upward mobility —  we actually end up with a completely new financial burden, which will likely hold us back from our future goals.  

This problem is systemic and generational, so there is no blanket solution. However, there is something that can be done to help students begin a path to financial mobility while at the University of Maryland.

This university should implement a format of the Live Near Your School Program established under Maryland Senate Law 637. The law does not require universities to adopt it. It authorizes and provides the resources for universities to, if they choose, provide grants to current students and recent university graduates to buy homes near their school. 

As such, this university needs to take advantage of this program and allow its students to reap the benefits.

Not only would this program enable this university’s students to start building their wealth just out of college, but investing in our recent graduates will also provide numerous benefits to current students, the city of College Park and local communities. 

The Live Near Your School Program was established as an extension of a highly successful Live Near Your Work program implemented by the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which provides housing assistance to its employees. A similar program for employees was enacted here in College Park that saw immediate positive impacts on our local community. 

Provisions under the Live Near Your School Program would extend this home-buyer assistance to the students and graduates of public institutions too, not just employees. So, at this university, it would see some of our recent graduates staying in College Park.

After graduation, it seems most of our graduates leave the College Park area. Some students end up staying in Maryland, while others take their talents and intellect to other areas. While it’s obviously great to see this university’s graduates working around the globe — particularly in influential and high-paying positions — it would benefit the state of Maryland to keep highly-skilled graduates within the state. As such, subsidizing housing for recent graduates and students can add new incentives for students to remain in the area and put their skills to work — and begin their adult lives — locally. 

Being able to keep talent within College Park would significantly strengthen the city’s economy, as local businesses can suffer when students aren’t in town. A steady, year-round stream of income would help revitalize the College Park economy and surrounding neighborhoods, which could help establish College Park as a nationally-renowned “college town.” A program like this would improve the experience for current students, and also give past students a reason to return to and invest in the area.

And ultimately, enacting the provisions under the Live Near Your School Program ordinance would provide a pathway for young adult homeownership, which can be one of the best investments for recent graduates on their quest toward economic upward mobility. Considering how representatives from the University System of Maryland expressed their support for the bill while it was getting passed, we know this institution sees the benefit in subsidizing homeownership for recent graduates. It’s time we adopt this program at this university and support the students struggling with the increasing homeownership costs

This program comes at almost no cost to our administration, considering government subsidies are available should this university choose to implement the program. Therefore, there should be nothing stopping College Park from becoming a top-tier college town, full of inquisitive students and productive young professionals.

When we graduate from this university, we shouldn’t just be walking out with a good education. Rather, we should walk out feeling secure that our university has not only prepared us academically and professionally, but has also set us up for a financially stable future — as a result of bringing the Live Near Your School Program to College Park.

Imaan Shikoh is a sophomore public policy major. She can be reached at