Saturday, March 25, 2023

Editorial: Loan forgiveness begins, students save

President Joe Biden has finally released the student loan debt relief application after making promises back in August. The relief program will relieve up to $20,000 for students who receive Pell Grants, and up to $10,000 for those who do not. This action from the federal government is life-changing.

The White House released a graphic, on their own government website, demonstrating how the cost of higher education continues to increase, but support from sources such as the FAFSA and Pell Grant have remained stagnant. The Pell Grant is based on income, including the student’s parent or parents’ income if they are legally a dependent, to determine how much funding is given to the student, but even then there are limitations. 

According to the Education Data Initiative, students graduate with about an average of $31,100 in debt to student loans. Graduates also tend to owe more than undergraduates due to high-interest rates. 

The Education Data Initiative’s website also states: “The average total student loan debt-to-income ratio for a new graduate is 54.6%. Before adjusting for inflation, the average student loan debt at graduation has increased 2,807% since 1970; after adjusting for inflation, the average debt increased 317%.”

With the cost of education so high, it is nearly impossible to afford getting a degree of any kind in the United States. Even if one were to graduate and get their desired degree and desired job with relatively moderate debt, starting salaries are not enough to handle the upkeep of interest plus the already owed funds. 

The application process is simple. The applicant provides their legal name, social security number and email. Then, they must agree that they make under $250,000 for the 2021 tax year. That is the entirety of the process. The website warns to be wary of scams. Never give out your social security number unless you trust the source. 

Many conservatives were originally outraged by the proposition to relieve student debt, claiming it would cost too much and that it would be a burden on taxpayers. The White House responded by sharing how many GOP politicians benefited from Paycheck Protection Program loans and their relief.

Republican Congressman Mike Kelly tweeted in disagreement with the loan forgiveness program, calling it a “bad policy.” The White House tweeted in response, “Congressman Mike Kelly had $987,237 in PPP loans forgiven.”

Congressman Markwayne Mullin had over $1.4 million forgiven, Congressman Kevin Hern had over $1 million forgiven and Congresswoman Majorie Taylor Greene had $183, 504 forgiven according to the White House. All of these congresspeople tweeted their disdain for the policy, while having millions of dollars forgiven in PPP loans. 

If these politicians are comfortable using taxpayer money to forgive PPP loans, then why is there an issue with using roughly $20,000 per student? It could just be a ploy to continue the gap between the upper class and lower class, gatekeeping higher education from those who simply cannot afford it and must work menial jobs to live paycheck to paycheck. 

This policy is a step for the future. A future where knowledge is not locked behind a paywall. A future where education is free for all who are willing to learn. A future for the better. Hopefully, legislation will continue to follow this direction, and there will be a time when parents do not have to worry how they will pay for their child’s education. 

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