Many were excited to hear about President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loans. The plan promises an income-based program, a public service loan forgiveness program, free tuition for two-year community colleges or other high-quality training programs, free tuition for public colleges and universities for qualifying families, and an increase to Pell grants. Each proposal serves for the greater benefit of Americans financially, though may not take effect as soon as he takes office.
Biden seeks to enact the student loan plan immediately, providing $10,000 of relief. “The legislation passed by the Democratic House calls for an “immediate $10,000 forgiveness of student loans” and“It should be done immediately,” Biden said earlier this month.
The total student loan debt stands at more than $1.6 trillion, collectively owed by 44 million Americans. As the number of individuals seeking higher education increases the cost of tuition has more than doubled. More middle- and low-income families are now pursuing higher education programs as more professions are expecting a certain degree level, encouraging Congress to make easier access to receive financial assistance.
“Going into my senior year of college I have acquired a substantial amount of student loan debt,” Aaron Robertson, a student at Florida A&M, said. “Biden’s plan would clear a substantial amount of debt and relieve me from the burden of dealing with student loans.”
The plan not only benefits current students, but previous graduates and those that are seeking to attend college. According to Biden’s website, individuals making less than $25,000 a year will not pay on their undergraduate federal student loans and will not accrue interest. Other individuals will pay five percent of their discretionary income, saving a large number of Americans thousands of dollars a year. After 20 years the remainder of the loans for individuals who have kept up with their payments will be considered debt free.
The public service loan forgiveness program funds the $10,000 of relief funds to students for graduate and undergraduate debt. This will be received on a year-to-year basis, based on national and community service for a total of five years. People employed by the government, non-profit organizations and universities will be automatically enrolled in the program.
Free community college and higher quality training programs will be a program partnered through the federal and state government. The federal government will cover 75 percent of the costs while the state covers the remaining obligation. Native American tribes operating community colleges will receive 95 percent coverage from the federal government.
Families making less than $125,000 a year will be able to attend public institutions for free. This was first recognized and proposed by former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders which Biden has adopted and is now including in his proposal. Lastly, the Pell grant will increase as over seven million students benefit from Pell grants. The Pell grant is the foundation of federal financial aid programs, increasing access to college for lower income students. Biden’s proposal hopes to increase access to the Pell grant for middle class families.
“The increase of funds for the Pell great would be a huge benefit for me,” said Destiny Jackson, who attends Clark Atlanta. “Coming from a middle-class family, we are often overlooked with financial aid and left to figure out how to pay for college.”
While the plan is thorough in its effort to better the education and financial sources for Americans it is still just a proposal. In order for the proposal to be implemented, once officially in office Biden could present executive order, which can raise confrontation in the White House as the new president. Or Biden can go through the process of formally voting on the issue with Congress, in hopes that the Congress will agree and move forward to place the proposal in effect.