The Biden government should give priority to student loans – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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Andy Castillo / Daily Collegian

Amid the economic fallout from COVID-19 and the ongoing party-political deadlock, President Joe Biden faces pressure from progressives to cancel up to $ 50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.

As President, Biden may be able to do this through executive action without the support of Congress.

In a Milwaukee town hall last week, Biden said he supported the issuance of $ 10,000 in federal student loan per borrower, but not $ 50,000. He thinks the money should be better invested in early childhood education, free community colleges, and free tuition for families making less than $ 125,000 a year.

These guidelines are important, but they should only be the basics. The Biden government should cut up to $ 50,000 in federal student loans to ease the financial burden on millions of college graduates.

In the third quarter of 2020, Americans owed more than $ 1.7 trillion in federal student loan debt, a number that is up nearly four percent year over year. Cancellation of loans up to $ 50,000 would eliminate all student debt for 80 percent of federal borrowers.

The financial troubles caused by student loans have worsened during the pandemic. When payment breaks are lifted, many borrowers find themselves in dire financial straits and may not be able to pay their bills. In addition to the direct incentive payments that provide instant money to spend, little or no amount of money in the form of student loans would give people room to pay rent, medical bills, or save for the next emergency.

Student loan granting is also an important step in closing the racial wealth gap. Systemic racism in housing, education and employment continues to make it difficult for black families to build wealth. Four years after graduation, black students will have twice as much debt as their white counterparts. This is unacceptable and the loan waiver is the first step in narrowing the gap.

With the Senate filibuster still intact, there are few options for Biden to make significant political changes during his tenure. Granting student loans is one of the best ways to cement progressive ideas into the fabric of the COVID-19 recovery. Democrats need tangible results to maintain their narrow majorities in the House and Senate in 2022 and the White House in 2024.

Massachusetts lawmakers agree. On Friday, Attorney General Maura Healey led 17 Democratic attorneys general in a letter to Congress leaders calling on them to support resolutions calling for the Biden administration to provide $ 50,000 in student loans.

“Student debt relief can significantly increase the wealth of black and Latinx households and help fill the racial wealth gap,” the letter said.

Others putting pressure on the Biden administration include Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who see the proposal as a way to help people of color, the elderly, and undergraduate borrowers cope with the financial burden escape.

Opponents will argue that obtaining credit is not the best way to get COVID-19 relief, and they are right. Debt relief only helps people who have been fortunate enough to attend college in the first place. It won’t cut unemployment rates, aid hospitals, or help distribute vaccines. However, it will unleash millions of borrowers who have been unable to buy a car, home or save for retirement because of their loans. Eliminating the student debt is just one step in a larger plan to alleviate the pandemic.

Another point of criticism is that the waiver of student loans is fundamentally unfair to people who have already paid off their debts. So the argument goes, why should graduates get a handout today? This is necessary because paying for a college education is far more difficult today than it was in the past. Tuition fees have skyrocketed in relation to wages and students are pressured to attend elite private universities even if they cannot afford them.

Shouldn’t we strive to leave society a little better, a little easier than we found it? Debt relief, especially during a pandemic, would do just that. Debates on fairness should not stand in the way of tangible solutions.

Catherine Hurley can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @cath_hurley.

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