Student loan cancellation becoming a more realistic possibility

Recently, some Democrats have been publicly pressuring President Joe Biden to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt. SIUE students and faculty are reacting to the prospect and what it would mean. 


While the number many want is $50,000, there’s a chance it won’t be that high, if at all. Political Science Professor Andrew Theising said he thinks it will likely happen, but he’s not sure on it being such a high number. 


“I think the question is how much, rather than if it will happen. The numbers I’ve seen being tossed around are between $10,000 and $50,000, and because the range is that big my thinking is that will be closer to [$10,000] than [$50,000],” Theising said. 


There are multiple avenues through which the cancellation could actually happen, one being an executive order by Biden, and the other is for it to go through Congress. Political Science Professor Ken Moffett said it’s more likely to end by going through Congress than anything else. 


“Democrats have asked President Biden to cancel student loan debts by executive order … Given the sheer size of student loan debt, his preference is for the legislative process to play out,” Moffett said. 


Talk about cancellation is happening now because it would be coming as a part of the COVID Relief Plan. Moffett said canceling student loan debt would come with plenty of benefits to Americans struggling right now. 


“Higher levels of student loan debt are connected to delays in other major life decisions. So, for example, high student loan debt is oftentimes connected to delays in marriages, and delays in buying homes and also delays in having kids, and so forgiving student loan debt ostensibly would allow people to make some of those bigger picture life choices a little bit sooner than they otherwise would,” Moffett said. 


Theising said, like the stimulus checks, canceling debt would come with a benefit to the economy. 


“The disposable income goes up for the household, and even though the national government may not be getting those student loan payments anymore, local governments are sure getting the sales tax … those sales taxes are going to benefit the economy,” Theising said. 



Students have varying opinions on the idea. Freshman nursing major Jessica Hoelter of Troy, Illinois, said while she does see problems with the loan system, she doesn’t think canceling current debt is the way to fix things. 


“To erase all this student debt, I don’t think it’s necessary. I think the bigger problem is we have an insane interest rate on student loans, so these companies are making almost double their money, which shouldn’t happen … The issue shouldn’t be to erase the debt that’s already happened, it should be to fix it for the future,” Hoelter said. 


Sophomore geography major Charlie Brown of Owensboro, Kentucky, said he thinks cancelling student loan debt makes sense.


“It’s a great idea because a lot of people are unable to pay it off … A lot of times people could have been paying off debt for years just for the amount to remain the same,” Brown said.


Those interested in learning more student loans can check out the U.S. Department of Education’s page on loan forgiveness.

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