What Joe Biden would do for student loan borrowers
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, United States, Thursday, August 20, 2020.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Joe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night, which could be the start of a series of reforms for the country’s 45 million people student loan borrowers.
“Joe Biden made several campaign pledges,” said Marc Kantrowitz, an expert in higher education. Some of these vows include canceling the loan, reducing borrowers’ monthly payments and allowing them to get out of debt in the event of bankruptcy.
The outstanding student debt has exceeded 1.6 trillion dollars. More than two-thirds of college graduates have student debt today, down from less than 50% in the early 1990s. The average balance also swelled to $ 30,000 from $ 9,000 at the time. Some 28% of borrowers are either in default or in default.
More than half of Americans say student debt is “a major problem” for the country, according to in a Politico / Morning Consult poll.
Biden said he would write off $ 10,000 in student debt for all borrowers. This proposal could have a powerful impact, because half of the borrowers in default in 2015 owed less than this amount.
“This is a policy that will bring significant relief to everyone,” said James kvaal, President of the Institute for College Access & Success.
Yet this forgiveness would be a drop in the bucket for the growing number of Americans with giant student loan balances. In the first quarter of 2019, more than 6% of all student loan borrowers owed more than $ 100,000, up from 5.4% in 2017, according to Kantrowitz calculations.
Biden also has a more focused debt cancellation plan: As president, he said he would write off federal student loan debts at public colleges for those earning less than $ 125,000 a year.
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In total, Biden’s forgiveness plan would end about a third of the country’s outstanding student debt, according to Kantrowitz’s calculations.
Biden would extend relief to borrowers enrolled in income-driven repayment plans, which make monthly payments more affordable by capping them at a share of borrowers’ income. The typical monthly bill is currently around $ 400.
It would cut those bills in half and make the potential debt forgiveness tax-free. At present, borrowers of these plans may be affected by a massive tax bill at the end of their repayment term.
“This will make these plans much more achievable for the students,” Kvaal said.
Biden also joins a growing chorus of Republican and Democratic policymakers who want to allow student loan borrowers to pay off their debt in the event of bankruptcy. Borrowers must now present a “certainty of despair“to get rid of their student loan debt in court.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he sees no reason why loans are treated any differently from other types of debt in bankruptcy.
Student loan borrowers deserve a fresh start, Kantrowitz said.
“Credit cards can be canceled, but student loans can’t?” ” he said.
The likelihood of any of Biden’s student debt proposals becoming law will depend on how the election unfolds, Kvaal said: “It depends on whether there is Democratic control in Congress.”