“Forgive student loan debt,” says former Obama Sec. of Education

by Ezekiel J. Walker
Published: Last Updated on
"Forgive all student loan debt," says former Obama Sec. of Education
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Forgive all $1.75 trillion of debt Americans still owe on their student loans. That’s the shot-in-the-arm our “post-pandemic” country needs to speed economic recovery, according to former U.S. Secretary of Education John King.

King, who served under President Barack Obama, told CBS News that the federal government paid roughly 80% of the cost of college for students through its Pell grant program in the 1980s. But the government’s move in recent decades to cut its investment in higher education has left many students deeply in debt, with today’s Pell program covering less than a third of annual tuition for grant recipients.

Without the burden of student loans, the Roosevelt Institute estimates Black wealth could increase by up to 40%.

More than 43 million Americans — nearly 13% of the U.S. population — carry student debt, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. The average borrower owes about $37,000.

Debt holds many households back.

Recently the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think-tank, conducted a study on student loan borrowers. The study noted that forgiving student loans  “would provide more benefits to those with fewer economic resources and could play a critical role in addressing the racial wealth gap and building the Black middle class. The reason for this progressivity is simple: People from wealthy backgrounds (and their parents) rarely use student loans to pay for college.”

That anvil of debt often weighs borrowers down for years, forcing them to postpone plans to buy a home, start a business or even have children, King said. Programs such as 2020’s CARES Act proved beneficial for student loan borrowers. Yet, it didn’t leave much of a dent in the total $1.7 trillion price tag of higher education.

Will President Biden forgive all student loan debt?

Per UCI News, in his first year-plus in office, President Biden has canceled about $16 billion in federal student loan debt through programs primarily targeted at borrowers with disabilities, students who were defrauded by their institutions, and people who work in public service.

Other Democrats, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have also urged the Biden-Harris Administration to cancel student loans. Meanwhile, Pres. Biden has yet to make the ultimate executive decision.

The White House, dating back to 2020 under President Donald Trump, placed an interest-free forbearance on student loan payments during the pandemic. As a result, since March 2020 nearly 37 million borrowers have been excused from making payments on their student loans — an estimated $195 billion worth of waived payments, according to the New York Federal Reserve. But the forbearance ends May 1, and many borrowers are worried about being able to resume payments.

“We’ve got to make up for that policy mistake of the last 40 years by addressing the crushing burden of student debt that so many young people feel today and fixing the problem going forward by committing to debt-free college in the United States,” King said.

Current Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told CBS Mornings last week that Biden administration officials are talking internally about how to offer more student loan debt relief.

4 comments

Nicole Leb March 31, 2022 - 3:18 am

Hell no! I took on loans, read the fine print & gratefully accepted money with the acceptance that I had a limit & knew I would have to make sacrifices, but now have closed out each debt of 7 years from BA to JD. It’s over & finances are better. I actually have no debt of any kind.

There must be accountability & responsibility for these kids taking on debt & now fighting for discharge.

I understand the amounts and you rates are nearly usurious, but a flat out erasure is not apppropriate. Pay 75%, 50%… but NOT 40% or less. It’s ridiculous

Grow up, you are now adults. Not everything is paid in cash or debit as my son might say. You took on CREDIT: pay it back! The rewards come after that!

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