Joe Biden declined a proposal to forgive up to $50,000 of student loan debt during a recent CNN town hall.
President Joe Biden has essentially ruled out canceling $50,000 in student debt per person — disappointing some student borrowers who were counting on that help.
“I didn’t have my hopes up,” said Joshira Maduro, 30.
The research analyst graduated from Lehigh University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing and a student loan tab of $132,000. She has been on a strict budget in order to afford her monthly payments ever since.
The payment pause on federal student debt during the coronavirus pandemic has offered Maduro, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, a rare opportunity to chip away at the balance of her highest-interest loans and even start building an emergency savings fund.
Meanwhile, the president’s proposal to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt per borrower, which is still on the table, would go a long way toward achieving even greater financial milestones, Maduro said, such as buying a car or saving for the down payment on a house.
“That’s essentially a whole year of payments that would be taken care of,” she said. “Even just having a whole year of that money saved — I’ll know that if anything happens, I’ll feel confident I can bounce back.”
For others, $10,000 would be only a drop in the bucket. Kimberly Chatterjee, 29, took out about $200,000 in loans to attend New York University and graduated in 2014 with degrees in English and acting.
Up until the pandemic, the New York resident had worked full time as an actor and paid off about $50,000 in debt. Even now, though she’s on unemployment and her payments are paused due to Covid, she’s trying to put any extra money towards savings and paying down her student loan debt.
Chatterjee pushed back against President Biden’s argument that he shouldn’t forgive $50,000 in debt for people who went to elite schools.
“This idea that only the rich people go to the fancy schools is absolutely untrue,” said Chatterjee, who is also a project manager for the Be An #Arts Hero campaign, advocates for arts and culture workers.
She added that her degree also opened many doors for her in the performing arts. “In terms of my career and the work I’ve been able to do, it was absolutely worth it for me and a decision I wouldn’t change,” she said.
What would it mean to have $50,000 of her total debt cancelled? “It would be life-changing,” she said.
$50,000 of student loan forgiveness would be amazing for many but in the meantime $10,000 could help a lot of people out now.