It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Folks everywhere are getting ready to spend quality time with friends and family for the holidays—perhaps some of their first large gatherings since the Covid-19 pandemic began. As much as everyone is excited to open gifts and dig into their favorite recipes, there is one thing most people are still afraid of: conversations at the dinner table.
There’s a decent chance that Biden’s student debt cancellation plan will come up. Given all of the shifting news surrounding student debt relief these past few months, you might get some hard questions that need answering. Fear not! We are here to carefully guide you through these conversations, and, hopefully, into holiday cheer.
Even after the holidays, you can find these answers useful with friends and colleagues when they have questions about student debt. They can also offer talking points for social media posts and letters to the editor. Organizations like the Student Debt Crisis Center are on the front lines of the movement with new actions you can take, such as the recently announced major debt collection. We cannot always change peoples’ minds, but we should speak up about the issues that matter most to us—including student debt cancellation. Here are some questions you might get during the festivities.
Why should Biden cancel student loan debt?
The student debt crisis has caused individuals and families to choose between paying their debt or putting food on the table. People are forced put off major life decisions—like buying a house or car—to pay off their loans. This is a massive burden on tens of millions of Americans. Today, the best way to move up the economic ladder has become a financial nightmare. Canceling student debt is the best way to give people financial freedom so they can live up to their full potential.
Wasn’t there a lawsuit that said Biden’s debt relief plan was illegal?
Unfortunately, there are lawsuits challenging President Biden’s student debt relief plan and federal judges have halted the program. That does not mean the plan is illegal, though. The president and Department of Education have the authority to cancel student loans given the HEROS Act passed by Congress. The legislation specifically gives the secretary of education the authority to eliminate federal student loan debt. This can be done in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is crucial, as many student loan borrowers are still recovering financially from it. The legal process is not over and thus, while the program has been stopped, that outcome is not final. The relief plan is legal.
What happens now that the Supreme Court is involved? Where does Biden’s student debt cancellation plan stand?
The program was recently halted by a district court ruling, but the Biden administration is fighting in front of the Supreme Court to protect it. Two cases before the Supreme Court are challenging the legality of the president’s plan, but they are incorrect. The president has the legal authority to cancel student debt in response to the pandemic—and for other purposes as well—but the plan’s opponents are fine with millions of Americans’ being crushed under an immoral amount of debt. The Supreme Court’s hearing on these cases will likely take place in February 2023 and a ruling will be issued months later—sometime in the summer.
Why did President Biden extend the payment pause? When will student loan payments resume?
Many borrowers are still unable to pay off their student debt, whether they are financially recovering from the impacts of the pandemic or dealing with inflation. Fortunately, the Biden administration has extended the payment pause for federal borrowers. This means borrowers have time to save money to help pay for housing, food, and other necessities while the student debt relief plan is challenged. Student loan payments are set to resume either 60 days after June 30 or 60 days after a decision is reached by the Supreme Court—whichever comes first.
Why should taxpayers pay for someone else’s education?
College degrees are crucial not only to individuals but also to the economy. Without higher education, many jobs would be impossible to perform. As a result, we have to work together to help better the economy and society together. The student debt relief plan is not a burden on taxpayers, as there will be no tax increases on working and middle class families.
Is student debt cancellation fair for those who already paid off their debt?
Doing something good for others does not always come at the expense of something good for ourselves. Even if student debt relief doesn’t impact you, financial freedom for borrowers will still benefit the country. When people with student debt are able to participate in the economy, everyone benefits—whether they have a small business, are selling your home, or want the city to fill a pothole. Polls show that a majority of Americans support some form of student debt cancellation, including a majority of people who didn’t go to college, as well as those who already paid off their student loans. So, the real question is: Is it fair that millions of Americans are drowning in debt for trying to receive an education?
Would student debt cancellation worsen inflation?
Borrowers have been forced to choose between paying for food, rent, health care, and other necessities versus paying their student debt. With rising costs, debt cancellation actually helps individuals pay for these necessities, rather than adding to the burden many Americans and their families are dealing with from rising inflation.
If they didn’t want to pay off their debt, then why did they go to college?
A college education is still a crucial step in achieving economic mobility and stable employment for many Americans. Despite its steep costs, higher education is an investment and a means to economic prosperity. But increased tuition and skyrocketing student debt have limited this mobility for millions of borrowers. Education is and always will be a human right—meaning it should be inclusive, accessible, high-quality, and debt-free.