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Your Campus: Biden’s Student Debt Cancellation Plan

We asked our readers to share their thoughts on President Biden’s recent announcement canceling some student debt. Here’s what three current students, four alumni, and one student organization had to say.

Shraddha Datta ‘25

I think while any student debt cancellation policy definitely does good considering it cancels a certain portion of debt, we have to ask whether it is enough. At the end of the day, $10K is nothing in respect to the total cost of a college education. While this debt forgiveness might benefit many for the time being, if there is no debt forgiveness policy structurally put in place due to factors other than unexpected global pandemics then student loan debt will continue to place an unfair burden on many who are below the poverty line or many who are fighting to survive on a day to day basis.

Simon Stringer ‘23 (they/them)

Incredibly grateful. This being said, bro has had both the authority and resources for years to completely eliminate all debt for American student. With midterms coming up, and democratic losses projected by most political pundits (which like fair Biden has not done a ton) the timing of this seems very calculated. All this being said it is nice to see that this administration has found the courage to occasionally do things, even though Republicans won't like it

Hamilton College Young Democratic Socialists of America

The Hamilton College YDSA is pleased to see the Biden administration finally acknowledge the crippling impact of $1.6 trillion in student debt on students and the wider country. Beyond the one-time cancellation for individuals, the administration’s substantial reforms on repayment plans are a move in the right direction to lower the chain student debt has around millions of parents, teachers, and workers of all backgrounds. However, the most crucial element of Biden’s cancelation is the precedence it sets. Despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim last year that the President cannot cancel student debt, Biden showed that the only barrier to canceling ALL student debt is political pressure and courage.

Canceling all student debt has been repeatedly argued as a strong policy that will benefit the nation. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to push Joe Biden, or the president afterward, to continue what this first debt cancellation policy started and break the chain that is student loans entirely. While total student debt cancelation will not solve all the issues within our higher-education system, it WILL make the lives of 48 million Americans and beyond better. In short: #CancelStudentDebt

Keith Ruggles ‘20 (he/him)

I feel great about it. A rising tide lifts all boats as they say. However, I think the 10k in forgiveness and 20k forgiveness for PELL grant recipients is nowhere near the level of debt cancellation that should be implemented. I imagine something of the same magnitude as recent PPP loan cancellation that has been available to and exploited by business owners

Saphire Ruiz ‘22 (they/them)

Debt cancellation (of all kinds, but especially student loans) is one of the many things needed if we ever hope for liberation. There is no such thing as freedom if millions of people are stuck in constant financial crisis, unable to truly make their own choices and lead their own lives out of fear of debt or because their debt disallows them from accessing basic needs such as decent housing, caring for themselves or family, or healthcare.

Eric Cortes-Kopp ‘22 (he/they)

I mean half of my federal loans will basically vanish, so I’m pretty fine with that. Biden still hasn’t addressed the outrageous costs private higher education institutions charge it’s students. While Hamilton’s tuition and budget has scyrocketed, our staff, faculty, and student workers have not seen any of that benefit. A 2% raise to staff and faculty that kept this school a float during a global pandemic is insulting. A 2% while Hamilton College was one of the few colleges to have a budget surplus during the pandemic is an insult. As a new alum, it’s disparaging to see the president, chief investment officer, and senior staff salaries’ ballon while many staff members who actually shaped my Hamilton experience haven’t seems substantial raises during their time here at all. Hamilton is surely not alone in this, but it is clear the current administration and Board of Trustees are content with being right in the “middle of the NESCAC pack.” But hey, this is the same college that drags out contract negotiations with SEIU and Facilities Management for a year but then put out a video saying ‘look at how much we care about our essential workers 🥰.’

Kate Connolly ‘26 (she/her)

I am personally very happy about Biden’s debt cancellation policy. Income should not be a barricade to education and nobody should have to choose between financial security or a degree. One may say choosing the latter might lead to a stable job that can repay the debt, but our increasingly unstable and receding economy cannot guarantee this. Additionally, being non-male, non-white, part of certain religions or a lack thereof, or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, amongst many other characteristics, can create even more barricades in our job market that is absolutely drenched in institutional bias. However, even though there is so much more that Biden's administration can do to make good education accessible and low-cost (and eventually free), this piece of policy sets a very important precedent. We must move forward to create a country and government that cares about us as humans, scholars, and workers. Someday, getting a solid education will always be financially practical. I want and feel obliged to partake in the movement that makes this happen.

Anonymous ‘21

I think it's great and benefits a lot of people but Biden did promise a lot more (I'm not exactly sure how much), so I think people need to be careful and not assume that the fight is over. There's always more that can be done, there's always more thats available. To fight against capitalism is to think in abundance and recognize that there's always more than what people in power say there is.

And I think going to a school where a good chunk of the students have access to mass amounts of wealth, there's a good chance a good chunk of them will have their student loans paid completely. They are the ones who need to shoulder that work to push for more because they have access to power, and wealthy folks at Hamilton don't know how to reckon their class privilege.

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