Did Biden Just Destroy Our Hopes Of Student Debt Forgiveness? It’s Complicated

Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Images.
During a CNN Town Hall on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden made his position on student loan forgiveness incredibly clear. Despite a push by members of the Democratic party to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower, President Biden shut that idea down, saying he does not agree with the proposal.
During the Town Hall, Biden was asked “what he will do” to make $50,000 in loan forgiveness happen. “I will not make that happen,” he responded. Biden’s cited reasoning was that he did not think that students who went to private universities like “Harvard and Yale and Penn” should have their debt forgiven, and their money should be used to “provide for early education for young children who come from disadvantaged circumstances.”
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Instead, Biden’s administration has proposed forgiving $10,000 in loans per borrower, as well as making community college free for every student and state schools free for children whose family makes less than $125,000. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order pausing payments on federal student loan payments through September 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It should be noted that the president does have the authority to cancel student debt without any action from Congress, should he choose to. 
Still, many people argue that offering only $10,000 of relief does not go far enough. Earlier this month, Democratic leaders including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) reintroduced a resolution that calls on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 of federal student loan debt for people who make less than $125,000 per year. Over 50 House members are co-sponsoring the resolution, demonstrating the growing support for addressing the student loan crisis.
"The last thing people should be worried about is student debt," Rep. Omar said at a February 4 press conference about the resolution. "We know that student debt is not the result of bad decisions or behavior. It is the result of a broken system that tells the students to get an education or go to college in order to have a stable life, but then does not provide the resources to afford that education."
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“I would never want anyone to go through this,” Vivienne, a 32-year-old with over $100,000 in student loan debt told Refinery29 last year. “I just know how it is, and how you cannot live a full life. This feeling of incredible shame makes your body sick.”
Student loan debt in the U.S. is currently at $1.67 trillion, and is on track to hit $1.75 trillion by the end of the year. About 43 million Americans currently have student loan debt. Even when the country was in a period of economic growth, nearly 1 in 4 people were delinquent on their student loan payments.
Student loan debt also disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx communities. “Debt cancellation would have a tremendous impact on those most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic: Black Americans, older borrowers and recent graduates,” Alexis Goldstein, a senior policy analyst at Americans for Financial Reform, told CNBC. A recent survey also found that the majority of Black voters want student loan debt eliminated, and 40% said they would be unwilling to vote for a candidate who did not support student loan forgiveness.
Biden coming out in opposition to wiping out $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower doesn't mean there's no hope for the millions of Americans saddled with debt to have theirs forgiven eventually. But it does mean that it won't be the simple, sweeping forgiveness that many people were hoping for.

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