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Yes, college graduates deserve student loan forgiveness. (Op-Ed)

President Joe Biden has announced a new plan for student debt forgiveness that aims to help people experiencing “hardship.” The eligibility to receive this aid would be determined based on several factors, such “as a borrower’s total student loan balance and required payments relative to household income, and whether a borrower has high-cost burdens for essential expenses like healthcare or childcare.” Those in hardship will likely be given the opportunity to apply. Applicants who have been in repayment for an extended amount of time, whose debt is higher than what they originally owed, or who went to a financially unsuccessful institution will also be considered. But where does that leave college graduates experiencing other forms of hardship?

The average debt accrued for a bachelor’s degree is $37,338 per borrower. For private loan borrowers, the average is $54,921. The national average wage index for 2022 was $63,795.13. The Education Data Initiative reports that “20 years after entering school, half of the student borrowers still owe $20,000 each on outstanding loan balances.”

While this plan was extremely beneficial during the pandemic, the effects of COVID-19 are still felt today. President Biden’s 1.78 trillion-dollar student debt relief plan was cancelled by the Supreme Court on June 30th, 2023, leaving Americans “angry.” This decision impacted more than 40 million people who have student loans. The U.S. Department of Education’s COVID-19 relief plan ended on September 1st, 2023, resulting in payments restarting and interest rates no longer at 0%. It feels as if college graduates are being let down by their country.

The first study that surveyed the mental health of those with student loan debt found that “Higher student debt was correlated with higher stress.” Kristen Lindgren, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Washington, further explains “if you have more student debt and you feel like things are unstable, you have higher levels of stress and anxiety.”

Even if a graduate is hired in at the national average, the amount of debt they have is overwhelming. With grocery prices soaring, rent becoming unaffordable, and high interest rates, how do we expect graduates to pay off their student loans? Isn’t every graduate facing some form hardship, whether it be financial, medical, or emotional?

College students are promised that they will have a great job with a fantastic salary after graduation, but not all graduates find that promise fulfilled. Graduates deserve to receive debt cancellation or loan forgiveness due to the likelihood that this debt will loom over their heads for decades to come, actively impacting their mental health.


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