The Carr Report: Forgive us our student loans

by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier

When President Joe Biden was campaigning to become president of the United States, he promised to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt. When he became president, it appeared that he was playing politics. When asked about student loan forgiveness, he said he wasn’t sure if he had legal authority to do so.

What he did instead was extend the payment pause on federal student loan payments. Student loan payment pauses were originally put in place by President Donald Trump in March 2020. The freeze had since been extended six times.  Federal student loan pauses halted collection efforts on student loans, reduced the interest rate to 0 percent, and deferred  required payments on federal student loans. Millions of people have not been required to make payments on their student loans for over two years and counting. With nearly 45 million people burdened with student loan debt totaling approximately $1.7 trillion, that’s billions of dollars of foregone interest accrual projected for the federal budget.

As federal student loans were being put on pause, I saw several articles circulating creating a narrative that those student loan payment deferrals were in fact debt cancellation. While the narrative was shifting to tout payment deferrals as debt cancellation, the Biden Administration approved the cancellation of $32 billion in student loan debt, including $13 billion for borrowers who were taken advantage of by the institutions they attended and $9 billion in total for people with permanent disabilities. Also inclusive in this was $10 billion in student loan debt cancellation awarded to people under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This program was under intense scrutiny because at one time only 1 percent of those eligible for Public Loan Forgiveness had their student loans forgiven. The Biden Administration gave attention to this program. Qualification requirements were relaxed. As a result, more people started seeing their loans forgiven. 

As I observed all of this happening, I ascertained that President Joe Biden would play politics and use the aforementioned debt cancellation efforts that I just detailed as him making good on his promise to cancel a portion of federal student loan debt. Frankly speaking, I’m surprised that President Biden has indeed done what he said he would do on his campaign trails, cancel anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for those who are eligible.

While I’m shocked by the President’s move, others are either elated or perturbed by his announcement. I wanted to see what others thought on this subject. I decided to pose this question to my Facebook group, “What are your thoughts on student loan forgiveness?”

This question sparked interesting conversation within my group. I’ll share some of the conversation below. First, here’s a quick summary of President Biden’s proposed Student Loan Forgiveness mission:

The Biden Administration Student Loan Debt Plan:

Single people earning less than $125,000 and married people earning less than $250,000 who currently owe federal student loans are eligible to receive $10,000 in student loan forgiveness. Low to moderate income families who were awarded a federal Pell Grant will be eligible to receive up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness. Private student loans are not eligible.

Approximately 8 million people whom the United States Department Of Education has current financial information on will have their $10,000 to $20,000   debt canceled automatically. My guess is these 8 million people are people who recently applied for and received financial aid. Others will have to apply and provide income documentation before a portion of their loans are canceled.

Student Loan Payment Pause extended through December 31, 2022. They’re calling this the last extension.

Undergraduate loans monthly payments will be capped at 5 percent of discretionary income. It’s currently 10 percent. Under this arrangement, loan balances will be forgiven after 10 years of repayments instead of 20 years if loan balance is under $12,000. Interest accrual to be subsidized to ensure loan balance doesn’t continue to grow while making these payments.

Below are some excerpts my Facebook group conversation:

I can’t pretend to know all the details because honestly I can’t even watch it.  The idea of it doesn’t sit well with me because it penalizes those who make sacrifices to do the right thing.

~ Maureen

 

I been forgave mine!!

~ Shante

 

The least “they” can do.

~ Cynthia

 

Mine are already paid off!

~Alicia

 

Been paying since 1991 and interest is still keeping it going. Some of my friends died and still owed.

~ Stephanie

 I think this is a horrible decision.  It will add to inflation, and it doesn’t address underlying issues of rising college costs, lack of financial literacy in most of our population, too many borrowers not graduating with a useful degree (or any degree), too many borrowers using school loans for cars and spring break trips, and government being in loan guarantee business to begin with.  I owed $14k when I finished all of my schooling in ‘93.  I paid it off by ‘98 because I understood that I needed to make extra payments to attack the principal.  I was only making $17k.  I didn’t take deferment when in grad school because I understood compounding interest.  I then started putting my monthly payments into college funds.  Both of my sons will graduate debt free.  We will help with grad school as much as possible.  The average loan today is $37k, the average starting salary is $42k, so debt to income has not drastically increased. This is merely transferring debt.

~ Tracy

 

I hope they forgive my loan! The school I went to is not even in existence anymore.

~ Jason Y.

 

They need to forgive at least 50k and fix the system. They pushed people to go to college telling them it’s the only way to make it. We were scammed. We shouldn’t have to start out life 80k-100k in debt. I should only need to take my core classes. When you’re 18 you don’t know any better. They will give you student loans and credit cards at 18 but won’t give you a house loan. The system was meant to keep you in debt to this country. They need to do the right thing.

~ Jason C

 

Only forgive those that finished school.

~ Eric

 

Give everyone a tax break or credit of some kind. People know what they’re signing up for with student loans.

~ Janeen

 

So, mine are paid off. It took me a long time. BUT…I knew what I was signing up for, and how much they would be, and still did it. Was it outrageously priced, yes, absolutely. However, I was responsible enough to know that it was a debt that I WILLINGLY incurred…no one forced me to. The amount of people these days that refuse to take responsibility for their actions and want someone (everyone) else to excuse them is ridiculous.

~Sarah

 

They owe my ancestors. I’ll take that and more!

~ Lea

 

The real problem is the skyrocketing tuition costs and this doesn’t solve that. If anything, it gives incentive to go ahead and enroll in those overpriced schools, because there is loan forgiveness. College prices will drop if people refuse to pay that much. It does suck, because it limits options. We just looked for my son. Some of my son’s favorite college options were priced through the roof. We had a decent sized 529 and it was a drop on the bucket. He found an affordable option with scholarships in the end, but many expensive schools wouldn’t budge on their price. It’s also unfair to those who paid for trade schools.

~Angela

(Are you looking to Beat Debt, Boost Your Savings, or Make Good Financial Decisions? Contact me.  Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached at 412-216-1013 or visit my website @ www.damonmoneycoach.com)

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