Student loans have played a big role in freshman civil engineering major Samantha Quinlan’s education. She understands firsthand how the concept of student loans plays a big factor in important life decisions, especially the choice to pursue higher education.
“Some people would say ‘Money is a big factor, so I can’t go to college,’” Quinlan said. “They feel that they can’t get the education they want because they’re more scared of financial reasons holding them back.”
Like Quinlan, 43.6 million Americans experience the impacts of student debt, though the Biden-Harris administration is determined to lower this number drastically.
On Oct. 4, the administration received approval to administer a $9 billion increase in debt relief to the American people. This brings its overall debt cancellation total to $127 billion, impacting 3.6 million Americans during their time in office.
Though the Supreme Court denied President Joe Biden’s proposal, which would have eradicated around $400 million in student debt for nearly 43 million people in June, his administration has continued its advancements in debt forgiveness through the second half of the year.
The administration has specified forgiveness for individuals who meet criteria such as public service workers, victims of college fraud and those who have been paying off death for years. These specifications allowed for an additional $48 billion in debt relief despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that blocked initial plans.
For further expansion in its efforts, the administration released a draft plan on Oct. 30 outlining an additional four groups who would qualify for potential student loan forgiveness:
- Current or former students with remaining loads exceeding the initial amount
- Current or former students who have been paying for at least 25 years
- Current or former students who attended high-debt institutions with high-debt rates without adequate earning resources
- Current or former students eligible for income-based repayment plans, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Discussion has risen regarding a potential fifth group to be added to this draft, which covers those with financial hardships who cannot afford to continue repayment within the current system.
In his collaboration with Biden, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has remained publicly enthusiastic about their efforts for national student debt relief.
“President Biden and I are committed to helping borrowers who’ve been failed by our country’s broken and unaffordable student loan system,” Cardona said in a press release on Oct. 30. “We are fighting to ensure that student debt does not stand in the way of opportunity or prevent borrowers from realizing the benefits of their higher education.”
While the administration has expressed its intentions to continue expansions in national debt relief, its most recent draft remains in its early stages.
The Department of Education currently awaits upcoming discussion sessions to be held in November and December where the draft will be evaluated, questioned and negotiated by both government officials and the American public. It remains to be seen whether or not the draft will withstand scrutiny.
College students and non-college students in America are both beginning to question how these potential plans could directly impact them.
While understanding that the constraints of the Supreme Court’s ruling limit the groups of people who receive debt relief under current proposals, some students feel optimistic that the potential future for debt relief could end up impacting a great majority of past and present students.
This potential increase in student debt relief could “relieve some stress of going to college,” Quinlan said, making higher education an easier and more enjoyable experience for those Americans who wish to pursue this path.
Some students concur, like junior medical diagnostics major Faith Hadley, who feels that the idea of student loans “discourages [individuals] from getting an education” regardless of whether or not the student has a job or is receiving financial assistance from outside sources.
With an increase in debt relief, student loans would become much less of a factor in this decision.
Ultimately, Quinlan and Hadley expressed that, contingent upon the passage of debt relief plans, many current and future American students will feel more at ease with the decision to pursue higher education.
While speaking to the American public on Oct. 4, President Biden emphasized his beliefs in the importance of debt relief and his intentions to pursue further action.
“My administration will continue to use every tool at our disposal to help ease the burden of student debt so more Americans… can be free to achieve their dreams. It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our country, and it’s going to change their lives.”