The newly elected Biden administration has been enacting relief plans to aid the current economic crisis due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the effects of the pandemic. As Americans can now receive stimulus checks under the American Rescue Plan, most forget about students facing an economic crisis as well. How will they continue to pay for education?
As of Jan. 8, President Joseph Biden asked Congress to pass a plan to immediately cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt per student. This plan would be included as a part of the COVID-19 relief bill, now known as the American Rescue Plan. Biden’s plan would wipe out debt for about 15 million borrowers nationwide.
Biden aims to raise taxes for large for-profit corporations to pay for the new expanded loan forgiveness programs.
“That is a lot of money in general,” Devon Reuse, freshman broadcast journalism major, said. “There are hundreds of millions of college students. I see it being beneficial for a certain type of demographic. Definitely more people deserve it than others, regarding financial stability.”
Students who attend undergraduate public universities and earn less than $125,000 would be the most impacted by Biden’s plan. Historically Black universities and other minority-serving colleges would be the most impacted by the plan. Private universities would not be touched, as well as students attending graduate school.
“I definitely think that it’s good that they’re going for public schools because typically you have a higher percentage of students with financial dependencies going to public schools,” Reuse said. “I think that it would be good in general to make it less exclusive, but in terms of financial stability. In my perception of kids attending private schools, they usually have more money. So it would be nice if that was eliminated too.”
Not only would attending an undergraduate public school help students receive debt forgiveness from the government, but working in a public service field would also allow students to qualify. Working as a public servant, such as being a government employee, teacher, or non-profit employees would qualify for up to $50,000 canceled for up to five years of eligible service.
Democrats in the United States Senate claim that Biden’s plan to relieve $10,000 isn’t enough for students currently facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. Senators such as Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, urge Biden to include up to $50,000 in debt relief for students across the country in the COVID relief package.
“Student loan debt is crushing millions of Americans,” Warren said. “President Biden has an opportunity to fix that with a stroke of a pen. This bill helps pave the way to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt.”
Politicians aren’t the only ones noticing that more aid can be allotted to individuals with student loan debt. College students also notice that Biden can give more aid to students currently attending a university.
“So many people are already affected by student debt issues before the pandemic,” Reuse said. “If we made it so that we were canceling more student loans, there would be less financial hardship for new graduates. I think that if they were to give out more relief, that would be more beneficial for us in the future.”
As with many financial issues, such as student debt, there is criticism from the opposing side. The current issue within the bipartisan divide in the United States can be seen in the way that both parties handle finances. As Democrats seek debt forgiveness first and program reform later, Republicans urge to reform all programs before issuing any money to the American people.
Senate Republicans could come up with a counterargument to Biden’s proposal. Their main points being that the loan forgiveness is unfair to students who have already paid off their debts, as well as canceling more debt. This could lead to canceling medical and mortgage debt. The new change to debt forgiveness could be the new scare tactic for the Republican party.
“I think it’ll be much harder to do legislatively,” Schumer said. “We have not seen our Republican colleagues jump at this opportunity.”
Biden’s debt plan may scare Republicans, but it could be new hope for students struggling financially.
“I think that it’s radical in a very good way, and I think that it’s not radical enough,” Reuse said. “It’s a very good move on his part to be relieving people since there’s no end in sight of COVID. This is the bare minimum of what college students deserve during this time.”
Biden hopes to relieve debt anxiety for students in his first term, which could provide them with a life free of student loans.
“This should be the move,” Reuse said. “This should be the plan to build up our younger generations, and I think that there could be more support. At last, people can get debt relief.”