Student loan forgiveness has students hopeful for debt relief

Photo by Mike Ferguson/AAUP

By Ruthie McBride 

In February, President Biden forgave $1.2 billion dollars in loans for people in the United States suffering from debt across the United States. This offered relief for upwards of 150,000 people. 

For current college students, the idea of loan forgiveness is welcome news as college tuition prices across the country continue to rise and more students worry about the debt they’re taking on. 

“From day one of my administration, I vowed to improve the student loan system so that a higher education provides Americans with opportunity and prosperity – not unmanageable burdens of student loan debt.  I won’t back down from using every tool at our disposal to get student loan borrowers the relief they need to reach their dreams,” Biden said in an official statement. 

This loan forgiveness comes along with the SAVE plan that the Biden-Harris administration launched in August of 2023. This plan offers relief for those who have been getting their payments done on time. The plan eliminates added interest when a monthly scheduled payment is made on time.  

“My parents are both teachers, so of course with that income, I had to take out loans to pay for my school,” Emma Turull, a freshman at Flagler College majoring in economics said. “Obviously, it’s not a good thing that I have this [debt] to deal with in my future, but I don’t necessarily regret it because I know it’s for good reason and I’m paying for my education.”  

While Turull said the possibility of loan forgiveness is appealing to help pay off her debt, she also recognizes that the cost of the program will have to be paid by someone.

“The money comes from taxpayers and social security, and I know that will be a burden that our generation has to take on when we’re older,” she said. “I do think the loan forgiveness is obviously a good thing, but someone is going to have to pay for that.”  

According to a fact sheet provided by the White House’s official website, the goals for the SAVE plan initiated by the Biden-Harris administration were to cut payments on undergrad loan payments in half, bring borrower’s payments to $0 a month, ensure that borrower’s balance would never grow and provide early forgiveness for low balance borrowers.  

This is all for borrowers who are keeping up with their payments and paying them on time.  

A junior at Oklahoma State, Zoe Thomas, attends her university at a slight discount due to one of her parents working at the institution. Both of her parents still deal with loans from their own educations, as her mom decided to change her career after teaching for several years and needed to get a different degree. 

“College is so expensive already,” she said. “I had to transfer schools when my mom started working at OSU so I could afford to keep going to college. I’m lucky enough that I get a lot of money discounted already because of my mom, but I’m unfortunately still in debt. Of course, my loans stress me out, it’s always at the back of my mind.”  

She called the loan forgiveness program a step in the right direction.

“I know that the government will always have the money to do things like this,” she said. “They just choose whether to do it or not. So, I hope they’ll do it again when we’re old enough to get relief.”  

It is calculated that about 43 million Americans are currently in debt from loans they took out in order to pay for education, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Approximately 7.1 million are 24 and under, and include current students.  

This brings the Biden-Harris administration one step closer to reaching their originally ambitious goal of relieving $400 million worth of student debt across the country. Throughout his time in office, Biden has managed to cancel $138 billion worth of loans for borrowers. 

Another freshman at Flagler, Gianinna Fierro, is a first-generation student and very interested to see if the plan will benefit her.  

“I’m not really sure how the whole loan thing is going to play out for me,” she said. “I know that being a first-gen student, it was already hard for me to fill out my FAFSA form. So I can imagine how dealing with loans will be when the time comes.”

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