President Biden’s initiative: Student debt discarded

A Helping Hand: President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announce plans to cancel student debt in an August press conference.

Bonnie Cash/Bloomberg

A Helping Hand: President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announce plans to cancel student debt in an August press conference.

Eshmom Haque, Staff Writer

On Sep. 29, the Biden administration began efforts to combat the student debt crisis in accordance with their 2020 election promise. In an email sent by the Department of Education, the administration laid out plans for relieving student loan debt. Over a span of 30 years, the program will cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 or households with less than $250,000 in income. 


This plan was created to address the exponential growth of college tuition costs over the past few decades. According to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, the total annual price of college has increased by 180% since 1980. Lacking congressional approval, both sides of the political aisle are criticizing Biden’s plan.


Biden’s administration, however, believes this plan will succeed because of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act). The HEROES act grants the Department of Education the ability to relieve financial debt during an emergency, which Biden’s administration argues applies to student loans and the pandemic. 


In opposition of Biden’s plan, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Carolina issued lawsuits against the federal government, asserting the HEROES act does not cover this type of relief. 


Republicans deem the initiative unfair since student debt would not be erased but instead paid through taxes on citizens. They surmise this plan would gain support from voters who haven’t paid their student loans and unjustifiably put the burden on those who already paid them or chose not to go to college. 


“In addition to being economically unwise and inherently unfair, the Biden Administration’s Mass Debt Cancellation is another example in a long line of unlawful regulatory actions,” said Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson’s office in a press release. “No statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed.”


Progressive groups like the Debt Collective, a union of debtors originating from the Occupy Wallstreet movement in 2011, believe the plan does not address the root cause of the issue as Biden’s debt relief only accounts for already existing loans and ignores student debt that will accumulate in the future. 


Although progressives and conservatives have disapproved of the plan’s principles, some representatives support it partially but want revisions. For example, California Democrat Representative Scott Peters believes that the plan shouldn’t be based on an arbitrary number, but tied to income. Additionally, a survey from CNBC to 66 representatives from all parties, revealed that 6 Democrat representatives believed that the threshold for federal student loan forgiveness should stay at $10,000, instead of the $50,000 that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren suggests. Despite the plan’s controversial implementation, progressives believe this initiative is a step in the right direction. 


“The cancellation the president is offering is historic […] It will be life-changing for tens of millions of people. I will keep pushing to raise the numbers,” Warren said to USA TODAY. “This is America saying that our people, even people who don’t have a lot of money, are our best investment.”