Washington, D.C. – In 1999, I walked out of college. As a joke, I taped the words “Will Work For Food” on the top of my graduation cap, knowing I had $50,000 in student loans awaiting me. Four short years later, I decided to go back to school for a master’s degree and racked up another $60,000 in student loans.
Nearly 20 years later, a great recession, several business failures, and up until this job, not a single day using my degrees due to an undiagnosed ADHD issue, I have managed to winnow a student debt of $110,000 down to a very respectable, yet still unmanageable, $60,000.
20 years of repayment and I am still a poster child for why we are in a Student Debt Crisis, yet there was a glimmer of hope this week. President Biden announced that he was giving out 40,000 golden tickets
President Bidden announced that 40,000 student loans would be forgiven under the all but defunct Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Another 3.6 Million borrowers on Income-Driven Repayment Plans (IDR) could be forgiven for three years of payments on their student loans, or basically the time during the pandemic they have been unable to make payments and were in forbearance.
This news came on the heels of a report issued by NPR on April 1, that said of the 9 Million people on IDR plans, 4.4 million people had been paying on loans for over 20 years, with a grand total of 32 IDR loans forgiven. NPR characterized this news as “a breathtaking picture of IDR’s failure, cast(ing) a shadow over the federal student loan program.”
Go figure that NPR found that news “breathtaking”. The rest of us, including more than 100 organizations who signed on to a letter to the Dept of Education on February 9 “urging (Miguel Cardona the head of Education) to deliver on the promise of IDR programs” for loan recipients, found it to be old news.
What’s really ironic is that Biden touted this idea back while he was running (thanks to the urging of Bernie Sanders), but has waited until the Dems are on the ropes in a run-up to the Fall midterms when, in all likelihood, Congress will flip back over to the Republicans in a typical midterm shellacking.
What’s going to ensure that liberals get a thorough drubbing?
What’s going to ensure that liberals get a thorough drubbing this fall is when Gen X, Y, and Zs, as well as Millennials, all find out that they are getting screwed out of their golden tickets by being part of the 4.6 million souls who got the shaft on student loan abatement this go-round.
Kelly Griffith, executive director of The Center for Economic Integrity, one of the 100-plus signers of the Feb 9 letter, thinks there is hope for the four and half million who were left off the invite list. She believes the rest of us will be given reprieve saying, “the Biden administration has done what no other admin before could do” but goes on to say, “he has the power, we believe, to do much more with a stroke of a pen…and he needs to do it.”
As Jim Bradshaw, U.S. Department of Education Press Office in Washington writes in an emailed response, “the 40,000 were not “chosen.” Rather, they were identified for forgiveness because they are public service workers who were already working toward loan relief through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. And, because we made these fixes, they have now reached the 10 years of repayment necessary for forgiveness. These actions are part of the Department’s commitment to addressing historical failures in the administration of the federal student loan program and supporting student loan borrowers through the pandemic. They also help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on borrowers with lower incomes and high debt loads. Today’s steps will help restore the promise of IDR plans by ensuring that borrowers have an affordable and effective path out of debt. The Department continues to work with the White House and Department of Justice to assess student loan cancellation, and we remain in an ongoing conversation.”
While that answers where we are, it does not answer when your golden tickets will be issued. The thing is, golden tickets are a lot like baby pigeons. We know they must exist, but I’ve just never seen one. If and when I get my golden ticket, I’ll be the first to change my tune, but it’s all too easy to assume I didn’t make the guest list. Did you?
Thumbnail Credits: Christopher German
- Jim Bradshaw, U.S. Department of Education Press Office in Washington
- Kelly Griffith, Center for Economic Integrity
- Exclusive: How the most affordable student loan program failed low-income borrowers
- 40,000: That’s How Many People Will See Immediate Student Loan Forgiveness – CNET
- IDR Waiver Coalition Letter for Sign-On