How Do Mother Jones Readers Feel About Biden’s Student Loan Relief?

“I’d rather see free healthcare.”

Bonnie Cash/ZUMA

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Last week, President Biden finally unveiled his plan to cancel large portions of student debt—up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for most others—fulfilling a key campaign promise to deliver relief for a generation saddled with skyrocketing student loan debt. The plan’s details have since kicked off a wave of reactions, editorials, and, rather unsurprisingly, Republican lies about how Biden’s decision will mostly benefit the elite. (It doesn’t.)

But beyond the commentariat, the announcement has clearly struck a deeply personal note for countless Americans. We asked our newsletter readers (subscribe here!) to weigh in on how they’re feeling about Biden’s move. Will any new life plans be possible now? Are they disappointed that Biden didn’t go bigger? Or, did they oppose canceling student debt altogether? Some of the answers might surprise you. Let’s take a look.

Laura is grateful:

I am on of the millions affected by the student loan debt cancellation and I have a LOT of opinions about how awesome this plan is.  Currently working off my insurmountable debt on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan (thank you Obama) and not too far to go on that to qualify for forgiveness (on year 9 of my 10 year plan) and as someone for whom literally almost every person I know has student debt, I know this plan is, as Bernie would say, YUGE. One of the biggest boons is the policy on interest, which made it almost impossible for those with crushing debt to get free. This offers a window of hope for those of us who have nearly $100,000 in debt but make less than half that in a year to find a way out.  
 
Sometimes, politicians actually help us. This is one of those times. Really grateful for this relief.

Donaleen is unimpressed:

I’d rather see free health care.

Paul feels cheated:

I agree with canceling student loans, but feel cheated that those who refinanced their loans like me are not included. 

Trudy wants to keep the momentum going:

Having had the ‘luxury’ of attending San Jose State University, graduating in 1984, I am beyond distressed at what students in the past few decades have had to pay to go to college.

 
To the best of my memory, I was paying $300 or, at most, $600 per semester. At possibly $1200 for a year just factoring inflation that would be $3,248 now. In fact, it’s actually $3,950 for one semester now, so  $7,900 for a 2 semester year. That’s over double. 
 
I presume it’s obvious that I’m in favor of the forgiveness of the debt, even $10,000 is a help to many, and feel we need to go a lot further by making college less expensive for anyone that wishes to attend. 

Nina is pessimistic but open-minded about life’s twists and turns:

My initial reaction was: that will make no difference. With over a hundred grand in student debt, 10 grand is hardly a peep. But thanks Joe. I’m looking for full student debt forgiveness for folks who make under 50,000 like myself.  At least until I make more. If I make more, then I give more.  Keep it open if you want. You never know, I could strike it Rich! 

Bridget is disappointed:

As a 55+ person with student loan debt from an MA degree, I was disappointed that there was no plan aimed specifically at senior student loan debtors. It would really help with savings for retirement for those of us who will have to work until we’re 70. They should have added a plan to progressively forgive student loans starting at age 55 and until all debt is relieved by age 70 or when on SS, whichever comes first. With the exception of high income earners, of course.

Timothy has an eye on the midterms:

The school loan program will increase president Bidens poll numbers!! Way to go joe!! 

Beth fears that this is a bad teaching moment:

I think that teaching people not to repay their loans is a terrible horrible no good very bad plan. How do you plan to make that “fair“ to all the people who didn’t think that they could afford the education and just kept working while other people got amazing education that now they don’t have to pay for?
 
Tough stuff, huh?

Greg is concerned:

Canceling some of the students loan debt will somewhat alleviate a symptom of the problem.. overwhelming debt. But it does nothing to address the root cause of the problem. Consequently the problem will start over and continue when new college freshmen sign up for new student loans this Fall semester.

BJ wishes Biden went further:

Even with the $10k, & possibly $20k, I’ll STILL have $10-$20k in debt & I’m 72 years old.
I’m attempting to live on $712/month in Social Security & p/t work to cover the rest of my bills.  Where do I get the money to make even a minimum payment that doesn’t get eaten up with interest?
 
I only borrowed $6k for school & the rest of the $32k I owe is INTEREST!!
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

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A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

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