Nearly a million Pennsylvanians could have their student loans forgiven under Joe Biden’s plan

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows these borrowers have $20,000 or less in federal student loan debt — which the Biden administration wants to eliminate.

  • Sam Dunklau

People walk on the University Park campus of Penn State University.

Min Xian / WPSU

People walk on the University Park campus of Penn State University.

Nearly one million Pennsylvanians who have federal student loan balances may qualify for full forgiveness under President Joe Biden’s backup plan.

It depends US Department of Education data, which shows that about 1.8 million people in Keystone State have federal student debt. The agency estimates the group collectively owes about $65 billion, on pace with similar-sized states like Ohio.

But half of this group – about 906,000 people – owe amounts that would be canceled under Biden’s plan: up to $20,000 for anyone who got federally subsidized Pell Grants, and up to $10,000 for those who didn’t. haven’t received any.

Many more of these borrowers could see some of their student loan balances wiped out as long as they meet the plan’s income thresholds: Individuals can earn up to $125,000 a year, while married couples can earn $250,000. $ per year.

Regina Yeung, a student at Shippensburg University, is among those who could see their debt wiped out under Biden’s plan. She has just started her freshman year and is the first in her family to attend college.

Yeung said a mix of on-campus work and Pell Grants has helped her pay her bills for the past few years.

“Coming to college, I knew I would have to work,” she said. “So it would take the strain off my back…I would work less and focus more on my studies.”

Yeung added that she could also set aside more money for college expenses.

“My dream job is to be a civil rights lawyer, so I’m thinking about law school right now, [and] I know it’s expensive,” she said.

Daniel Greenstein, the chancellor of the state higher education system, said he was celebrating the loan cancellation plan — but sees one caveat:

“I think we’re finally seeing… bipartisan discussions about the best way, the most effective way to help students with the cost of college, so I think that’s contributing to that discussion,” he said. he declares. “[But the plan is] telling people who have incurred debt “we can help you”, but that does nothing for the student who enrolls today.

Greenstein admits that the cost of higher education – even in public system schools – is still too high. The average student attending one of those 14 schools ends up with just over $37,000 in debt by the time they graduate, according to spokesperson Kevin Hensil.

Data from the Institute for College Access and Success shows that on average, 75% of students at public and private universities in Pennsylvania go into debt to pay for their education. Each of these students has an average of $40,000 in loans.

The Biden administration has not announced when federal student loans will be canceled. The plan can also face challenges to their legal authority In the coming months.

The White House has argued it can forgive federal student debt under the Heroes Act of 2003, though the law was originally intended to help Iraq War veterans wipe out any student debt. education.

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