COVID-19 has caused economic and emotional turmoil for all Americans, especially college students. Not only are students forced to do online learning and possibly stay at home altogether, many students are struggling with affording the tuition and taking out student loans.
Almost 6-in-10 borrowers reported that it would be difficult to afford their loan payments in the next month. The cost of attending a four-year university has risen more than twice as fast as inflation. And while Ohio University students have the Ohio Guarantee regarding tuition prices and fees, incoming college students must deal with increasing prices due to the pandemic.
President Biden announced at a CNN Town Hall that he would not enact a $50,000 student debt forgiveness plan. He does, however, understand the impact that student debt can have and will enact an alternative plan. Biden announced he will write off $10,000 in debt instead because he doesn’t believe he has the authority to do more.
Since day one of his presidency, Biden has outlined loan forgiveness as a part of his Emergency Action Plan to save the economy. The plan states that a minimum of $10,000 per person of federal student loans would be forgiven, after being proposed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Sen. Warren disagrees with the President’s position, saying that he has the ability to enact a larger number of student loan forgiveness.
“This is the single most effective economic stimulus that is available through executive action,” Warren said. “Research has found that canceling student debt would boost gross domestic product, create jobs, boost small business creation, supporting the housing market and help to close the racial wealth gap.”
Some may argue that student loan forgiveness is a “free handout,” but it's a step that needs to be taken in order to fix our broken economy and the racial wealth gap. It would also take the pressure off of graduating students, who are already worried about finding a job after graduation.
In addition to his initial plan, Biden has also promised to cancel the rest of the debt for those who attended public colleges and historically Black colleges and universities. 86.6% of black students borrow federal loans to attend four-year colleges, compared to 59.9% of white students, according to Business Insider. And on average, a black graduate has $7,400 more in student debt than their white peer.
The cancellation of student loan debt would allow Black graduates to focus on their studies instead of worrying about loans and help close the racial wealth gap. It would put graduates of all races closer to an equal playing field when graduating college.
Student debt does not just affect Black graduates, but students of all races and ethnicities. CNBC reports that loan borrowers 24 years old and younger have an average balance of about $14,807.69. And that number only increases as borrowers get older.
These numbers are no different than current student reports. The average debt for an Ohio University student after graduation is $20,909. The cost of tuition and on-campus living for students who enrolled in 2021 has risen to $28,602 annually, up from $26,254 for students who enrolled in 2016. Whether that is due to lack of financial aid and scholarships or lower family incomes, it is still a burden to students.
The student loan forgiveness plan would be to help many Ohio University students. Because OU is a public university, student loan debt would be cancelled for current and former students.
Biden took a great step by enacting a $10,000 loan forgiveness, but we cannot stop there. We must continue until we reach the goal of $50,000 debt cancellation. Biden has offered alternative solutions for those seeking higher education including providing two years of community college or other high-quality training programs without debt, but we need to do more.
It can be hard for some people to understand why loan forgiveness is so important, especially if they did not have problems paying for college themselves or did not attend at all. However, so many students have to work long hours, take out loans and even transfer from community colleges to try and find a way to pay for their education. We must fight for our right to a higher education. And if you have never had to fight, be lucky you don’t have to.
Hannah Campbell is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.