Student loan recipients blame system for debt
By JO EARLY
Relief. That’s what President Biden promised during his 2020 campaign, and when he announced a plan Aug. 24 to forgive up to $20 thousand in student debt for millions of Americans, graduates across the country felt that relief.
“I felt excited, relieved, and a little bit shocked,” Hannah Houser, an Amarillo College alumnus who earned her master’s in communication disorders this year, said. “I didn’t think it would be a reality, at least not for a long time. I’m happy for not only myself, but for all the others I know who will be positively impacted by this decision.”
Others had mixed emotions about the announcement. “I immediately went to the thought that it doesn’t make any sense at all, to continue to give out these loans while canceling the exact same loans,” Garrett Eggleston, special projects coordinator, said. “It’s really good to get some money back in circulation, give people a little bit of breathing room. The bigger thing that stands to be said, I think, is that the predatory nature in which these loans are given and that unbanked, corruptible system that still exists.”
Houser expressed a similar opinion. “I think the student loan system is incredibly predatory,” she said. “Speaking as a low-income, first-generation student, we are the ones most negatively impacted by student loans.”
Biden’s administration also continued the pause on student loan payments through the end of the year, which includes a halt on collections of defaulted loans and a freeze on interest.
“I think the continued pause on payments is a great benefit for people at the current time, mainly – if nothing else – for the stop on interest growth during the pandemic,” Jackie Llewellyn, speech communications instructor, said. “I think the amount granted in relief is going to be especially helpful to those who have been working to pay down the debt, but simply didn’t have the income to make a dent in it while interest was accruing.”
The momentary relief can be life-changing for some, but many still criticize the system that caused students to need debt forgiveness to begin with.
“I’m not sure that universal education and free college for everyone is the right answer,” said Eggleston. “I’m not sure that complete forgiveness of these loans is the answer. I just know that if they’re deeming them dangerous enough to forgive them, they should stop giving them out.”
“I love the idea of open access to education or at least affordable education, as we have here at AC,” said Llewellyn. “Our society wants a smarter community, and we need to help more people have access to the education required to achieve that goal.”
The Department of Education already has relevant income data for nearly 8 million Americans who qualify. If they don’t have your income information, applications will be available in early October. The application deadline is Nov. 15 to receive relief before the pause expires on Dec. 31.