As Joe Biden took office Jan. 20 and became the 46th president of the U.S., he signed a flurry of new executive orders and discussed plans to assuage some of the issues that have been plaguing our country for years, including student debt.
Student debt is an issue that perturbs college students and alumni across the country, including here at ASU. The average in-state ASU student will spend around $20,000-$30,000 a year to attend ASU. This number only goes up if a student comes from out of state.
These numbers can leave students and their families in crippling amounts of debt. The cost of tuition is at an all-time high, and since we are in a time of financial hardship, this can create financial struggles for students before they’ve had a chance to begin their adult life and join the workforce. Students can no longer “work their way through college” like previous generations.
It’s no wonder why demands to cancel student debt, freeze student loan payments and make public college free have become popular among university students across the country. Young people are being hit the hardest with this issue, and that isn’t considering the fact that many of us will be graduating into a recession.
While campaigning, President Joe Biden announced a plan to forgive $10,000 in student loans. This plan is a good start. It would make a significant dent in the debt millions of students have hanging over their heads. However, a dent may not be enough.
Many Democrats in congress are calling for Biden to absolve up to $50,000 in student debt. This amount of student loan forgiveness would definitely be preferred, as it could cut a much bigger chunk out of the $1.7 trillion in debt plaguing today’s students.
The average college student who owes money for their education has roughly $32,000 in student debt, according to The Federal Reserve Board. If we forgave more than the median of $17,000 in student loan debt, it could aid those who have higher amounts of student loan debt, including out-of-state students and middle class students who may not qualify for monetary assistance from FAFSA, or those who are not receiving financial assistance from scholarships or family members.
We also need to make sure that this money goes into the hands of students. We do not want another CARES Act situation.
It can take decades to pay back student loans. That is a lot of money to expect from someone who is just entering adulthood.
Steven Hernandez, a senior studying journalism and mass communications, said he is currently taking a gap year from school so he's available to work, a plan that many students have taken amid the pandemic. He said that the forgiveness plan would save him a lot of time and money.
The government should be helping students as much as it possibly can. More jobs are expecting employees to have at least a bachelor’s degree, when they were only required to have a high school diploma in the past.
Additionally, more people are attending college than ever before. This is a good thing because people are furthering their education, however, we are also facing a larger financial burden. Not to mention, many of us didn't get a stimulus check.
Another issue? Some do not believe Biden will fulfill his promises. Were these words of sweet nothings that Biden whispered in the ears of young people so he could get our votes? Biden needs to assuage these doubts by acting on his words quickly if he does not want to lose the support of his young audience, including those of us in Arizona who helped him win in the first place.
One good order that Biden has already put into place is requesting that the Department of Education extend the student loan freeze, which was enacted by former President Trump. I agree with this move, but I also hope Biden takes this time to assume an enhanced progressive stance against student debt.
Hernandez said Biden's promises so far "open the door for similar legislation in the future, and that's something we don't want to mess with this early on." He thinks this bill is a step in the right direction.
Biden has only been in office for a short amount of time, but it seems like he has gotten a lot done. He has a chance to lift a burden off of millions of young people and give them a better chance at a successful life. This should not be taken lightly.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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Haley Tenore is the editor of the State Press Opinion Desk. Tenore is also a digital reporter for Cronkite News and a co-president of the Accessibility Coalition. This is her fourth semester on the opinion desk and second semester as editor.