Saturday, September 24

Local View: Student-loan forgiveness an investment in America’s future

Students and families gave a collective sigh of relief as President Joe Biden announced an executive order tackling student-loan debt. A three-step plan from the Department of Education will help to address economic disparities facing young people in their pursuits of higher education. It will do this by extending the pandemic-related loan-repayment pause until Dec. 31, by providing targeted relief to low- and middle-class families, and by reorganizing the loan system to be easier for future borrowers.

This long-term investment in the next generation of American students is a victory for students, the economy, and the nation as a whole.

The executive order cancels up to $10,000 for all borrowers making $125,000 or less annually. For married students, this will extend to $250,000. Pell Grant recipients’ returns can be up to $20,000. Military veterans who are federal, state, or local employees or who work for a qualifying nonprofit may apply for more loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) by Oct. 31.


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Additionally, the plan will moderately lower interest rates for future borrowers and provide security for borrowers on an income-level basis. Middle- to low-income Americans will have more affordable access to higher education, which absolutely benefits those who need it most.

For the 43 million Americans currently struggling with unnecessary and exorbitant student loans, this is a huge step forward.

My student loans were entirely forgiven during the federal pause of payments due to the pandemic. It is a great feeling to have good credit, economic stability, and a positive attitude toward my education. Thanks to being debt-free, I am setting my sights on graduate school to become an educator. I will not receive a penny from this policy, but I recognize the extremely positive benefits to an accessible education.

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Knowing this student loan forgiveness program will be life-changing for some people is simply incredible.

Students who struggle with student debt do not share this experience. I know many around me, both recently graduated or not, who have been paying off high interest rates for years. Nurses, educators, business owners, and those working in trades will all benefit from a highly educated and less-constricted workforce coming out of college. A strong society is one built on the tenets of a universal and highly educated public. The very values of our constitutional republic are retained through higher learning. The pillars of wisdom, reason, freedom, liberty, and responsibility are imparted through education.

My generation is excited for the new prospects President Biden just provided. For too long, students have been shackled by the ridiculous price of education in the United States. People have been manipulated, tricked, and lied to about a universal and accessible education, and it has only hurt American society.

This does not have to be so! It is time all of us treat universal higher education as a critical investment in the future of America — to kickstart economic development, encourage higher learning, and provide hope for the tens of millions of Americans who soon will be the backbone of our great country.

Wesley Sisson of Grand Rapids graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2020 with bachelor’s degrees in history and political science and with a professional certificate of business in museum studies. He works as a researcher for the Itasca County Historical Society in Grand Rapids while preparing for graduate school to become a professor of American history. “I am also blind which has allowed me to listen to the issues that students across our region have been facing,” he told the News Tribune Opinion page. “I feel like students are not being heard. Education should be for all.”

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Wesley Sisson

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