Biden Administration Forgives Student Loan Debt


Photo Courtesy / CNN

The Biden Administration has been promising action on student loan debt for some time.

According to studentloanhero, Americans owe nearly $1.75 trillion in student debt, spread out among almost 50 million Americans. In a society where obtaining a higher education means being buried with debt, many individuals feel as if opting out from college is a more pragmatic choice than risking the guilt and shame of not being able to pay back their loans in the future. For years now, the amount past students owe in loan balance has only followed the pattern of mass increase.

“Yes, nationwide trends in the higher education landscape such as state disinvestment, rising college costs, the increasing necessity of college degrees in the labor market, and the loss of savings and other forms of wealth from the Great Recession have led us to a crossroads where student debt threatens the well-being of an entire generation of students and their families.” said Robin Howarth- a Senior Researcher at the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit organization research and policy group.

However, all this changed on August 24, 2022, when the Biden administration announced its student loan forgiveness plan. This plan provides a potential relief for millions of individuals who have borrowed a loan for their college education. As stated in studentgov, this plan consists of three parts- each one designed to ease the burden of student debt.

“Because I know this is coming through, I actually started the process of claiming Social Security the day after Biden announced it,” Abelson- a 63-year-old woman who took out $5,000 in loans more than 20 years ago to get an associate degree in computer technology from Wor-Wic Community College in Maryland said of the debt relief plan. “I am more than grateful.”

Part one entails a final extension of the student loan repayment pause. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden has extended the student loan repayment pause multiple times because of the large demographic of the population who had lost their job and weren’t able to keep up with debts they owed. The Biden administration has decided to extend the pause one final time through the end of the year. Payments will resume in January of 2023.

“It’s going to end December thirty- — I’m extending to December 31st, 2022, and it’s going to end at that time.  It’s time for the payments to resume.” said President Biden

The second part of the plan is to provide this debt relief to specifically low-income individuals and families. The US Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt relief to Pell Grant recipients. These recipients were the individuals who were given a grant by the US government to help deal with their extreme financial barriers. They will also be giving $10,000 to non-Pell Grant recipients. Individuals are eligible for this money if their income is less than $125,000 or their household incomes are less than $250,000.

A statistic from President Biden explains the significance of this. “Of the 43 million, over 60 percent are Pell Grant recipients.  That’s 27 million people who will get $20,000 in debt relief.” he said

Lastly, the third part of the plan is to make the student loan system more manageable for borrowers. For one, they plan on forgiving loan balances after ten years of payment rather than 20 if the loan balances don’t exceed $12,000. They will also cover the borrower’s unpaid monthly interest, so their loan balance won’t grow.

“The point is this: There is plenty of deficit reduction to pay for the programs — cumulative deficit reduction — to pay for the programs many times over.”  Biden said

Despite the alleged promise of student debt relief Biden has presented, many Americans have varied opinions. While some are disgruntled, claiming that it does nothing for students just starting their college journeys. However, others feel as if this will completely change their life. By having their past debts forgiven, individuals finally feel as if they have room to fulfill their potential without the burden of their debts. In fact, in an interview on NPR, host David Gura interviewed several individuals to hear their takes on this new plan. One of the individuals they spoke to was Lanience McCalla- a young mother and past student who is buried in school debt- who had nothing but positive things to say about this new plan.

“I can even plan for a house. It just is opening my eyes to possibilities now. Whereas before, it was just almost like, when is that hammer going to drop? My daughter, she wanted to do softball this year. Whereas before, I really couldn’t because that’s extra. You got to buy cleats. You know, so it’s enabling me to live – you know? – not just to survive, but to live.” McCalla said.

President Biden personally feels a connection to the burden of student debt. The White House’s official web page provided remarks by President Biden after announcing the debt plan. In these remarks, he speaks of how he and his father were forced to battle student debts during his years as a college student.

“You know, my dad would — you know, my dad was like millions of parents all across the country who want to help their kids to get to school, but there was just no way to be able to do it.” Biden said.

In these remarks, he also speaks of America’s promise to its citizens to provide them with the highest level of education possible. It is no longer enough to just provide them with twelve years of free education. Instead, we must progress as a country to formulate educated individuals past high school.

“In the 21st century — in my view and I think the vast majority of Americans’ — 12 years of universal education is not enough, and we’re going to be outcompeted by the rest of the world if we don’t take action.”

Biden’s law forgiveness plan will completely turn around the lives of countless individuals. By giving people the chance to move past their debts, it will evoke a whole new world of opportunity and possibility.

As Biden said in his remarks, “That’s what today’s announcement is about.  It’s about opportunity.  It’s about giving people a fair shot.  It’s about the one-word America can be defined by: possibilities.  It’s all about providing possibilities.”