Biden gives some reprieve for student loan debts, but it is a Band-Aid for the deep fissure in the wealth gap in the U.S.
It’s been a busy first week for the Biden Administration with 30 executive orders and counting. Among the executive orders was an extension of student loan repayments to September 30, 2021. While the temporary relief is welcome, for many students the executive order is a temporary solution to a long term problem.
“We’re encouraged by the pause however we’re also mindful that whenever the administration gets around to lifting the pause, all its done is move the burden down the road…So what we’re committed to doing over this time is to make the case that what’s really needed is a broader program of debt cancellation,” says Kyle Southern, Policy and Advocacy Director, Higher Education and Workforce of Young Invincibles.
“Joe Biden owes Philly,” stated the Debt Collective, a group that protested in front of Biden’s headquarters leading up to him taking office last week. The organization was pushing for President Biden to cancel all student debt on the first day in office.
Chenjerai Kumanyika, a member of the Debt Collective, detailed the irony when police arrested several people at the protest after their refusal to leave. “As we stood in front of the Biden headquarters (also in front of a bank) in one of America’s poorest cities, (a city that played a key role in electing him) the linkages between debt, race, poverty and policing were not lost on anyone.”
Kumanyika are like many others who say that crippling student loan debt is an issue hurting many Americans. CBS News reports, on average student loan borrowers owe between $200 and $299 every month, an amount for many that is unmanageable. As it stands now President Biden’s Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona is in full support of his plan to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt. An Ark Republic story showed that African Americans are the largest group to default.
“It would be a welcome start I would say. At Young Invincibles we’ve endorsed a resolution that would cancel $50,000 of debt for borrowers earning up to $125,000 a year…That proposal would effectively eliminate balances for three quarters of all borrowers whereas the $10,000 proposal only eliminates it for one quarter,” Southern told Ark Republic.
Forbes reports that the House resolution to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has been gaining momentum over the last few months.
Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted, “President Biden and Vice President Harris should direct the Department of Education to #CancelStudentDebt to help so many Americans across this country.”
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In the future there is a two step process that needs to occur to eliminate the student debt crisis according to Southern. First there needs to be a broad program of debt cancellation. Second policy choices that would provide more financial support from the federal government and push states to invest in higher education, would help students avoid drowning in debt.
Indeed that idea is not far fetched. Recently President Biden tweeted, “In the 21st century, twelve years of school isn’t enough. That’s why under the Biden-Harris plan, community college will be free — and public colleges and universities will be tuition-free for families earning less than $125,000 a year.”
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