Faculty, student react to Biden’s debt relief plan

Student Financial Services sees increase in calls after announcement



Junior fine arts major Faith Thomas holds up cash, Sep. 5.


Editor’s note: Some sources in this article wished to be anonymous for the sake of privacy.

The Biden Administration recently announced a plan to provide college students across the country with federal student loan relief. While WSU financial services staff believe the program will be beneficial, some students express concern. 

The three-part plan is a result of President Joe Biden’s promise to do so during his campaign. It also comes to fruition after a rise in tuition costs over the past few years.  

The cost of attending four-year universities, both public and private, has almost tripled since 1980, according to a White House statement. At the same time, federal grants now only cover a fraction of tuition costs, in contrast to when they once covered a majority of them.

Saichi Oba, vice provost of enrollment management, said that Biden’s plan is especially helpful for students with loans that are eligible for forgiveness and that Biden’s “aim is right to help students who have financial need in college.”

An anonymous senior early childhood education major, expressed some concern regarding Biden’s student loan relief plan.

“From what I understand, the United States is in trillions of dollars of debt, and we’re not really taking care of the debt that we already have,” they said. “Instead, we’re making more debt, and I feel like the money that Biden is using to forgive the students could be better used, such as funding for educators that we already have, so giving our teachers increases to inspire kids to want to go to college.”

They said the impact of tuition loan debt is hard to measure because students’ tuition is going toward university facilities. 

Oba highlighted the fact that current and former Federal Pell Grant recipients receive higher forgiveness of student loans. Biden’s plan states that non-Pell Grant recipients will receive up to $10,000 in debt cancellation, while Pell Grant recipients will receive up to $20,000 in debt cancellation.

In addition to debt relief, the Biden Administration’s plan includes cutting down the price of monthly payments for undergraduate loans by half, improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and reducing college costs for future students and taxpayers, according to the White House statement. 

Joy Scourey, assistant vice president of Student Financial Services, said students will not have to file additional forms to access Biden’s program because the government will likely have their tax information from filing for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

“This does apply to current students, so they would have had to borrow a loan previous to July 1st of this year, so June 30th in previous, to be considered, and obviously there’s the income piece that will be looked at,” she said.

Scourey said Student Financial Services has seen an increase in calls and queries from students asking general questions as a result of this announcement and encourages students to visit the student aid website to determine their eligibility. 

“We’re paying attention to any announcements or updates that we’re getting from our national association or from the federal government so that we can serve as a productive resource for students and parents if they’re asking questions,” she said.

Stacy Pearson, vice president for Finance and Administration, said many students will benefit from Biden’s plan to reduce loan debt. Over the past few years, many students have listed cost and debt as the biggest impacts on their educational experience. 

Biden’s plan for student loan forgiveness might provide the boost that is needed for students to go back to school and finish their degrees, she said. 

“It’s been so important to balance out the impact of tuition and fee increases on students’ ability to pay, ability to get loans, ability to complete [school],” Pearson said.