In response to the pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was implemented to alleviate the effects Covid-19 had throughout society. One section of the bill is specific to students and the financial burden of student loans.
Since Biden’s inauguration, the United States Department of Education has canceled $9.5 billion in student loans and another $1.1 billion in student loan forgiveness approved for distribution. Student loan debt is at $1.73 trillion according to CNBC.
The Trump Administration stopped the collection on defaulted loans, offered 0% interest and suspended payments until Jan. 31, 2021, according to the Federal Student Aid Office. When the Biden Administration came into office, they extended the CARES Act for another full year, along with offering a student loan forgiveness plan for individuals who have a total disability or have been defrauded by their university, according to the United States Department of Education.
These statistics regarding student debt and Biden’s plans for loan forgiveness have sparked reactions amongst students.
“I didn’t know we collectively owed that much. I think it is a good thing that the government is forgiving loans for individuals in those situations because medical costs aren’t getting cheaper,” said junior Autumn Garofola.
Similar to Garofola, other students say that student loan forgiveness is needed especially for those that are negatively impacted by a disability.
“When it comes to individuals with disabilities and those who have been defrauded by their university, I think student loan forgiveness is beneficial for them because they cannot generate a livable income, whether that be due to medical bills or having to pay back student loans with a useless degree,” said senior Barak Mustafa. “It’s not fair to hold them accountable for events out of their control.”
Some other students question the availability of loan forgiveness.
“Student loan forgiveness should be determined on a case-by-case basis, due to Covid-19. It left hundreds of thousands of Americans without jobs, and the last thing they need to worry about is how they are going to pay back student loans,” said senior Hailey King. “I think it is a good thing that the government is stepping up to help people who want a higher education, but they should make it more widespread.”
Some students agree that making student loan relief more widespread is a good idea.
“I think we should extend it to those who do volunteer work for government workers, teachers and other non-profit services,” said senior Ryan Conte. “They should expand on those programs and make it so they have opportunities to get their loans forgiven through the program with no strings attached.”
Some students also say that receiving a college degree should not come with years of debt. “I think that a college degree is worth the educational value but it’s not worth the amount of debt,” said senior Matt Ferri. “It is not easy to get a full-time paying job that’s comfortable for you to live off of after college.”
“The fact that institutions are charging $60,000 a year to get just a bachelor’s degree is ridiculous. Then it forces people like you and I to have to take out loans to the point that before we even graduate college, we’re going to be in debt,” said Ferri.