The petition asking Biden to cancel student debts received more than 1 million signatures
Austin Hossfeld and his wife Hayley.
Photo: Austin Hossfeld
Every day, Austin Hossfeld types the same words into Google: “Biden” and “Student Loans”.
“Often it is the same article,” said the 26-year-old Hossfeld. “I read it again.
“At night I talk to my wife about it.”
Like so many other Americans, the Carroll, Ohio resident is excited for new information about what President Joe Biden will do, if anything, about the country’s $ 1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan balance. Recently, Hossfeld’s online search led him to a petition from Change.org asking the president to cancel all of this debt.
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He signed it. So have more than a million other people.
“It’s a breeze to improve the lives of millions of people,” he said.
During the campaign, Biden said he supported the granting of $ 10,000 student loans to all borrowers. More recently, however, he has asked his education minister to create a memo of his legal authority to wipe out $ 50,000 each for everyone. It did so after facing increasing pressure from other Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to go further.
Borrowers are increasingly calling for forgiveness from the president.
Erin O’Brien, associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, said the petition is likely to attract attention in the White House.
“Numbers are important,” said O’Brien. “That moves politicians.”
Surveys show that two-thirds of Americans support some form of student loan forgiveness. However, only 4 in 10 believe that all debts should be canceled.
Critics of student loan forgiveness argue that this would not boost the economy much, as college graduates tend to be higher-income individuals who would likely redirect their monthly payments towards savings rather than additional expenses. Others say an anniversary would be unfair to those who have already paid off their student debt or never borrowed. These borrowers “may feel that their frugality is being punished,” Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith wrote recently.
Proponents say borrowers struggled well before the public health crisis – with more than a quarter of the crime or default – and that the pain has only worsened after more than a year of record-high unemployment.
How can you get ahead in life with this type of debt?
“Before the public health crisis of Covid-19 began, student debt was already a drag on the economy and was the worst on black and Latin American communities and women,” said more than 400 organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Psychological Association wrote in a letter to the White House in April.
“The administration’s debt relief will bring real advances in your racial justice, economic recovery, and Covid-19 relief campaign priorities.”
Hossfeld and his wife, Hayley, owe roughly $ 50,000 in student debt.
He graduated from Ohio Dominican University in 2017 with a degree in computer science and now works as a technician in a laboratory. He finds the job boring and instead wants to become a teacher.
But he’s scared of going back to school and getting into more debt.
“I feel stuck,” he said.
He and his wife would love to have a child, too, but fear that if they have to raise $ 800 a month on their student loans, they will not be able to afford the cost of childcare and health care.
“Talk about stimulus,” Hossfeld said when Biden forgave her debts.
“Eight hundred extra dollars a month would be amazing to me,” he said. “It would allow me to start a family and get another job.
“I dream about it.”
“It was really depressing”
Christine Angelique, of Portland, Oregon, signed the Change.org petition after her mother forwarded it to her.
Your student debt is more than $ 168,000.
Angelique has not been able to find a full-time job since graduating from the Art Institute of Portland with her degree in interior design in 2010. The chain of nonprofit colleges has come under fire for misleading students about their programs and career results.
“I ended up doing a lot of part-time and seasonal jobs,” said Angelique, 43. “It was really depressing.”
In 2017, she filed for bankruptcy over her credit card debt, which she had accumulated to cover bills and essentials without a steady, decent paycheck. She was unable to pay off her student loan in the process.
With the coronavirus pandemic, things have only gotten worse. She was fired from her job at a hotel in March 2020 and has since been fired. Some of their student loans are now in default.
The six-figure debt makes her hopeless, even though she knows she is not alone.
“I even said to my mother, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if suicides increased,'” she said. “It’s just how you feel trapped.
“How can you get on in life with this type of debt?”