President Joe Biden announced his plan to “forgive” $10,000 of student debt for qualifying, low- to middle-income borrowers, while Pell grant recipients may get up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness. This plan could affect roughly 43 million federal student loan borrows nationwide, although not all of them would qualify. To take advantage of President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, applicants must make less than $125k a year as a single person, or $250k married or as head of household. They would also have had to take the federal loan out before July 2022. With historically low-income wages and the cost of higher education on the rise, many wonder if this relief is enough. Federal aid and Pell Grants used to cover up to 80 percent of someone’s college tuition, but today it only covers a third.
How does this affect minorities and people of color?
For those with relatively smaller loans, Biden’s plan is a dream come true, while for others, it barley moves the needle. For example, the average student borrower has a loan debt exceeding $30,000, but for women of color, the number is much higher. On average, Black women are in debt about $41,000, with Native American women owing about $36,000. White women, on the other hand, are on the lower end owing about $33,000 according to the American Association of University Women. While minorities will be receiving the shorter end of the stick with this plan, another affected population will be lower income Americans. The Penn Wharton Budget Model showed that about 70% of overall debt forgiveness would go to the top 60% of Americans by income, meaning individuals making between $82,400 and $141,096 would receive the greatest share of overall forgiveness, at 28.1%.
But is it really that bad?
Of course not. Anytime the federal government wants to give back to its students, it’s much appreciated. In addition to the student federal loan forgiveness program, President Biden also added the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This program would allow qualifying public servants, that have federal student debt, and have also made 120 payments towards their loan to have the remaining balance be forgiven.
Impact on Social Work
This program would encourage people to join the profession and fill the urgent need for more social workers. By eliminating the constant worry of paying for school, people would feel more motivated to receive a social work education and ultimately, more social justice could be done in communities. Student loan debt can weight on a person’s mental health, even social workers. It has been said
that most people in their professions feel like they cannot give their best in their career because of the financial burden hanging over their head. Some people may have to get second jobs just to make ends meet. This can be very stressful. So, is this relief a good thing? Is it enough? What do you think about the student loan forgiveness plan?
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