Canceling student loans gives borrowers financial leeway: NPR

Americans with student loans react to President Biden’s debt cancellation plan.


The reaction continues to pour in after the announcement that the Biden administration will cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loans per borrower. And this amount goes up to 20,000 for low income Pell Grant recipients. This is a complicated and controversial subject. Some say the amounts are not enough. Others say loan forgiveness should not happen at all. But for those who have unpaid debts…

SEAN MANNING: The president’s announcement gives me incredible peace of mind right now.

KELLY: It’s Sean Manning here in Washington, DC. The discount plan cuts his loan balance in half.

MANNING: I didn’t think I was going to be able to repay those loans anytime in the near future. But now the situation seems at least manageable. Like, at some point, I could afford to do something crazy, like put down a down payment on a house before I turned 40.


Meanwhile, Carol Oldham in Boston says half of her and her husband’s loans will be forgiven.

CAROL OLDHAM: Which makes a huge difference in how much we pay each month, doesn’t it? It’s the difference between us having to be very careful about how we spend money and the rest of our lives and being able to have a little more freedom to put money back into the economy.

SHAPIRO: She says they are now considering buying a newer used car because their current car has struggled to keep running. But as grateful as she is, she wants to see the government address the root causes of the student debt crisis. And she particularly opposes those who view student loan forgiveness as a gift to the wealthy.

OLDHAM: If you’re rich, you don’t need to take out loans to begin with. And so, generally speaking, people who have a lot of loans tend to be people who are not part of the more advantaged part of society.

SHAPIRO: And as to the idea that it’s not fair to those who have already repaid their loans…

KELLY: Well, Dylan Roth is one of them. In fact, he made his last payment on Tuesday just before the announcement.

DYLAN ROTH: And I felt very, very silly.

KELLY: Thankfully, under the new discount plan, Roth can request a refund for payments made since March 2020. Even without that benefit, Roth says he’s happy for anyone who sees their debt cleared.

ROTH: I don’t want other people’s lives to be more difficult out of spite of myself.

KELLY: Roth says he felt some temporary rage for giving away a few months’ rent just before it was signed into law. But…

ROTH: But I think it’s silly to be mad at debt cancellation. If you never want conditions to improve for the people who come after you, then nothing will ever improve.

SHAPIRO: It’s Dylan Roth in Brooklyn, Carol Oldham in Boston and Sean Manning in Washington, DC

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