OPINION: Biden has a golden opportunity to tackle student loan debt
In a few days, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will be inaugurated. As baseless allegations of electoral fraud continue, their historic inauguration will also take place amid a pandemic. Undeniably, 2020 has been a year in which Americans have been forced to adjust to a “new normal” and need a different direction of events in 2021.
To help Americans under these unprecedented circumstances, Biden vowed to extend the hiatus on federal student loan payments on his first day in office. If he does not act, student loan payments will resume on January 31. Additionally, Biden’s transition manager David Kamin said Biden was backing Congress immediately. $ 10,000 cancellation of federal student loan debt for every person due to the pandemic.
Student loan debt in the United States continued to spiral out of control, leading to nearly $ 1.6 trillion in debt among more than 40 million Americans in 2020. This crisis has escalated due to the pandemic-related pay cuts and job losses that many Americans have faced. Today more than ever, struggling Americans need more time and government help to pay off their student loan debt.
Although Biden has previously said he will support efforts by Congress to forgive $ 10,000 in federal student loan debt per person, he has not given a specific timeline for this or to whom exactly this debt cancellation will apply. . It is likely that the Congressional initiative to write off $ 10,000 in student debt will only apply to borrowers with federal student loans rather than borrowers with private student loans.
At IU, many undergraduate and graduate students rely on federal student loans to fund their college education. Approximately 31% of all undergraduates at IU-Bloomington use Federal Student Loans. Among incoming freshmen, 35% of students take both private and federally funded student loans. The proposed student debt cancellation will greatly benefit these UI students, who are on average $ 20,500 in debt after graduation.
Biden revealed his $ 1.9 trillion in economics and health care on Thursday rescue package which focuses on helping Americans, testing for coronavirus and distributing the vaccine. Surprisingly, student loan debt cancellation was not included in the aid program. While this led student advocacy groups to say that they believe the president-elect will use immediate executive authority to settle student loan debt seems unlikely.
As Biden has taken a more moderate stance on tackling student debt, many Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, have offered to cancel up to $ 50,000 per person indebted on a student loan. According to Biden, the president may not have the executive power to carry out this task.
“Arguably the president may have the executive power to write off up to $ 50,000 in student debt,” says Biden. “Well, I think that’s pretty questionable. I’m not sure of it. I probably wouldn’t do that.
While writing off up to $ 10,000 in student debt is a good place to start, tackling the $ 1.6 trillion in student debt is not enough. Biden’s moderate approach is insufficient and he must heed Warren’s proposal in order to make a meaningful change in student loan debt ratios.
From January 20, Democrats will control the House of Representatives and the Senate after securing a slight majority over Republicans, who are widely opposed to student debt cancellation. While Democrats now have an advantage, it’s unclear whether or not they intend to prioritize student loan debt cancellation.
As voters, it is important for us to hold our elected officials accountable for the promises they made during their campaigns. According to a survey of Vox and Data for Progress, 51% of voters Support the cancellation of up to $ 50,000 in student debt for those earning less than $ 125,000 per year. Helping those who are struggling to make ends meet and pay off student loan debt, or even cancel student loan debt, is a good thing. Student debt has hit families hard lower net values and racial minorities. Tackling this major problem will help close this problematic wealth gap.
Americans have struggled to pay off student loan debt for years, and this has been dramatically worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Democratic lawmakers will need to seize the opportunity to tackle the problems they are committed to solving and to come to the aid of those who have suffered far too long under the Trump administration. Otherwise, what’s the point of winning this election?
Rama Sardar (she / she) is a first year student majoring in media with a concentration in cinema. She aspires to be a screenwriter and director.