By: Ariana Ceballos
For years children have been told by educators and family members that higher education leads to a successful life. That claim ignores the fact that money is needed to achieve a higher education. Many students take out federal and private loans to afford their college educations, and it is these very financial decisions that prevent them from seeking higher education needed for their chosen career paths.
Student loans worsen the lives of many students by applying a burden on them that they may have to live with for most of their adult lives. Because of this, President Biden should stop extending the pause on student loan repayments. He should forgive them and end the decades-long pressure among students and adults.
Since March 2020, people who have received federal student loans have not needed to repay loan providers under the CARES act passed by the Trump administration. President Biden extended the pause in January 2021 after Omicron emerged in the US, and it was expected to end on May 1. As of right now, the pause is held until August 31, 2022. These enacted pauses were a part of emergency COVID relief — as COVID is one of many things that prevent holders from making payments. While these pauses have been great and considerable in this time of need, officials should be aware that many holders depend on the cancellation of their loans.
However, as the recent focus is on student loans, it is important to note that federal student loan providers have been failing student borrowers long before the pandemic. NPR reports on the failures made by an affordable student loan program meant to help low-income borrowers. This program, called the income-driven repayment plan (IDR), is structured to help borrowers who are unable to make large payments every month.
NPR’s investigation notes that borrowers with the lowest income are impacted the most by faults in the IDR. Based on internal documents from servicers, it was stated that “in a 2016 review, officials warned $0 IDR payments that qualify for forgiveness are not adequately tracked,” and people making these payments were reported to be “earning less than 150% of the federal poverty line.”
Representative Persis Yu of the Student Borrower Protection Center states that, “people with $0 payments are folks in financial distress with their payments not tracked” and were in “debt that they don’t owe.” Federal student loan providers are simply not helping borrowers or attempting to make things easier for them. This means that an executive order is needed to address this issue.
In an article for Forbes, a representative for the Debt Collective described as “a debtor’s union advocating for student loan borrowers,” Braxton Brewington echoes that Biden should put an end to student debt as a solution to the problem. He stated, “Biden repeatedly touted plans to eliminate student debt on the campaign trail…at a time when costs for families are at a record high,” the pandemic mounted pressure on ordinary payments. I think this is a good idea because student loans are a constant threat to keeping stable finances, and many loan borrowers are adults who want to maintain their household.
We are living in a time of great uncertainty with the pandemic and fears of inflation still lingering. What has remained constant is the extension of payments, keeping borrowers on their toes. After two years of deciding whether they should consider a financial plan that includes how to pay their student loans, if extensions keep happening, it signifies that student debt can be forgiven while not impacting much of the country’s economy.
For a long time, student loan borrowers have suffered repaying their loans, shown through the failures of the federal level. If no changes are made to improve federal student loan providers, then student loans should be canceled. Borrowers should not be made to suffer by those who are obligated to help them through such an important process. After all, education is a need and the opportunity to achieve higher education should be accessible to everyone.