President Joe Biden’s extension of the federal student loan and interest payment pause through Sept. 30 has left many talking about the possibility of student loan forgiveness.
The payment pause began with the CARES Act signed into law last March and was extended throughout the rest of 2020 until Jan. 31 when Biden extended it once again.
Many local students are relieved that Biden has chosen to include student loan relief in the COVID-19 package.
“I’m happy that he decided to include loan forgiveness in his COVID-19 relief package,” Alayna Fell, a junior majoring in political science and economics, said in an email. “However I think student debt is a crisis of its own and should have had its own separate plan.”
Savannah Peck, a junior studying nursing, believes that the student loan forgiveness plan is just the start.
“I feel that it is a good start and trial to seeing how effective student loan forgiveness will play out, but only just a start and not a complete solution,” Peck said in an email.
The plan to forgive student loans may only impact and benefit a small portion of college students, Peck said.
“I predict that it will be beneficial for those who owe close to or under the $10,000. But those who owe much more than that will not benefit as much due to the nature of student loans,” Peck said. “I also predict that with the partial effectiveness, it will lead to larger plans of forgiveness and create a system for it.”
Fell said she is upset with the idea that the government can forgive the entirety of student loans if they desired to do so.
“My only real concern is that his current plan will only significantly help about a third of federal borrowers because most people are a lot more than 10,000 dollars in debt,” Fell said. “Even though I'm thankful for the $10,000, it's very frustrating to know that the government has the means to cancel all federal debt and they’re just choosing not to.”
Additionally, some students are unsure of how the plan for student loan forgiveness will play out.
“Some concerns of mine are that this hasn't been done before so no one can be 100% certain on how this will all turn out,” Peck said
Some hope that this plan will help show the way through which the Biden administration could forgive student loan debt.
“My hope is that, when we consider as a nation the very real burden of student loan debt, we avoid irrelevant ‘I paid mine’ arguments,” political science professor Jennifer Fredette said in an email. “My mom's tuition in 1972 was about $100 a quarter; it's apples to spaceships, there's just no comparison.”
Although COVID-19 has impacted a plethora of plans and development over its course, some believe that it will have no impact on the student loan forgiveness plan.
Though the debt relief was packaged with the January pandemic relief, some say that the government should have not waited so long to address student debt in America.
“I don’t think COVID-19 will impact the plan at all really, student debt relief is something that has been talked about for a while,” Fell said. “It's just sad that it took a deadly pandemic for our government to do anything about it.”
Additionally, it may be a motivator for the plan to take action, Peck said.
“I feel that (COVID-19) can be used as ammunition for receiving more forgiveness due to students being pulled off campuses and not getting their money's worth,” Peck said.
With or without the student loan forgiveness plan, Fredette said student loans have negatively impacted the American education system overall.
“I hope we keep in mind that the present student debt crisis is inextricably tied to ... racial justice and ... the systematic disinvestment in education in the US that has cheated Americans out of our potential for decades now,” Fredette said.