MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – President Joe Biden’s plan to erase between $10,000 and $20,000 in student debt for millions of Americans has left many students in Alabama hopeful.
“I took out a loan when COVID started, and that would help a lot,” said Joshua Jenkins, a senior at Auburn University in Montgomery. “Things are a lot more expensive these days, so I’m sure that would help a lot of people.”
“You come here to get an education to get on with your life and get better for your career, it’s not good to start in a hole, to start in debt,” said Chesney Kelley, junior AUM.
Under Biden’s plan, borrowers who earn less than $125,000 a year, or families earning less than $250,000, would be eligible for the $10,000 loan forgiveness. For Pell Grant recipients, the federal government would forgive up to an additional $10,000 of federal debt. The White House also announced a final extension of the pause on student loan repayments until the end of this year.
According to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, 51% of Alabama graduates have student loan debt. The average debt is around $36,000 per person.
“We know that in a lifetime there’s a million dollars between someone who has a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree, but the problem is if you have all that debt and you pay it off for 10 or 20 years really impacts your ability to do the things you really want to do when you become an adult,” said Jim Purcell, executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
Purcell said under Biden’s plan, about 191,000 borrowers in Alabama would qualify for the $10,000 forgiveness, and about 124,000 Pell Grant recipients would qualify for the more than $20,000 forgiveness. Together, that’s about $2.8 billion in canceled student loan debt statewide.
“We think this will have a big impact for Alabama. Not just for the individual, but for our economy,” Purcell said. things to spend it.”
Purcell said it’s important for students to recognize that debts need to be paid. He says this forgiveness is unprecedented.
“I don’t think it would have been a conversation that would have been put into action unless we had the pandemic,” Purcell said.
Biden’s plan has proven politically controversial, with supporters saying more forgiveness is needed. Those who oppose it say it unfairly burdens taxpayers who have not had a college education and those who have already paid off their student loans. Opponents also say it would make inflation worse.
Several Alabama politicians also weighed in after Biden’s announcement. Many Republican lawmakers in the state expressed their disapproval.
In an interview with WSFA 12 News, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville described Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan as a “bad example.” He also tweeted his disapproval.
Other lawmakers shared their opinions on Twitter.
US Representative Robert Aderholt sent this statement: “In the endless series of reckless policies put in place by the Biden administration, student loan forgiveness serves as the final payment. Biden is reaching out to the radical left to appease his base, which recent polls show does not approve of his performance in the White House.
“The cost of this policy is just the final burden that will be passed on to taxpayers who have no interest in it. It’s just plain unfair to those who went to college and paid off their loans. what they understood when they chose to pursue higher education. I fear that this policy will lead to new students borrowing more and more money from the government in the hope that the taxpayer will pay the bill later.
U.S. Representative Terri Sewell, Alabama’s only Democratic federal representative, sent a statement praising the move: “A good education should be a ticket to the middle class, but across the country, the skyrocketing costs of college has made it nearly impossible for many Alabamians to pursue the American dream.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for so many Alabamians who are crushed by student loan debt. This targeted economic relief will provide peace of mind to those who need it most. I am grateful. to have a president who keeps his promises and takes care of the needs of our students and our working families.
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