President Joe Biden announces student debt forgiveness plan

President Joe Biden greets guests after disembarking from Marine One, returning to the White House from Rehoboth, Delaware, on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced a student loan forgiveness plan that would relieve up to $10,000 for borrowers who make less than $125,000 yearly, according to AP News

It also applies to families making less than $250,000, and current students would be eligible if their loans originated before July 1, 2022.

Fresno State is waiting for further information from the Biden Administration over the next several weeks but will keep students informed.

“Student debt relief is an issue of national concern in higher education. At Fresno State, we recognize how important a college education is for our students, their families and our entire community,” said Lauren Nickerson, associate vice president for University Communications. 

According to Nickerson, around 9,000 students have federal student loans with an average of $14,000 in debt. These loans cover “tuition, housing and other expenses that students incur while receiving their education,” she added. 

“While this student debt amount is significantly lower than the national average of $30,000 per borrower, we believe this debt relief plan will help provide needed financial relief for our graduates,” Nickerson said. 

Fresno State students shared their reactions to Biden’s announcement.

“I feel like it’s going to help a lot of people out,” said Daniel Ayon, a freshman at Fresno State. 

Ayon currently has no student debt but said he still thinks it’s good for the other students that are paying off loans. 

Over 60% of Fresno State students are Pell Grant recipients “who have some or all of their college tuition paid for,” according to Nickerson. Pell Grants do not have to be repaid. Borrowers who receive the grant can receive up to $20,000 in debt relief.

Other students are skeptical about Biden’s plans to relieve debt and said they doubt it will happen.

“I feel like it’s a scam, and I feel like [Biden’s] not going to do that,” said Javon Daniels, another student majoring in biology.

“He hasn’t done anything he said he’s talked about, so I feel like he’s just saying he’s going to do it to make his name look good,” he said. 

Daniels noted Biden’s original promise during his 2020 presidential campaign to relieve all student loans and says $10,000 is not enough. 

Timothy Mills, a business administration management major, did not vote for Biden but said he agrees with the plan because it made it “more practical” and “easier” for students like him to pay it off.

He added that it’s good “helping the students during their time of need.”

“When there was no job[s] [due to COVID-19]… and people are losing their homes. They have to make choices like, ‘Do I pay for food or do I pay for this loan?’” Mills said.

Mills also noted that this is not a long-term solution and “somewhere along the line, there’s going to be repercussions” because the money still has to come from somewhere. 

“I feel like for the poor they should have more resources. They should be able to get more assistance where they shouldn’t have to take out a loan in the first place… I feel like [universities and colleges] are set up for the rich,” Daniels said.  

Nickerson said the university will guide students with further financial aid questions and information. There are currently no applications available for debt forgiveness, but more information will come out soon.

“Our financial aid office will continue to work with our students to help guide them through their financial aid options. We look forward to learning more about the details regarding President Biden’s announcement within the coming weeks and we will keep our students informed,” she said. 

Students can contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships by calling its office at (559) 278-2182 or going in person to the North Lobby of the Joyal Administration Building. 

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