Bail Out the Students
Chelsea Peil; Roger Peet; Katherine Ball; Occuprint
New York, NY
For the first time in over three years, federal student loan borrowers must resume payments, beginning this week. The US Department of Education originally suspended repayments in March 2020 due to the financial hardships faced by many borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, there have been eight extensions to the hiatus, but unfortunately, Congress passed a law in June preventing further extension to the Covid-era pause.
The Supreme Court also callously rejected a plan to cancel $400 billion in student loans which would have eliminated balances owed by over 20 million borrowers. Currently, over 40 million Americans owe a total of nearly $1.8 trillion in federal student loans.
Anticipating the end of the three-year student loan repayment pause, President Biden proposed a plan through the Higher Education Act (HEA), to offer student loan relief to borrowers who fit into one of five categories. These include borrowers 1) with balances greater than what they originally borrowed, 2) whose loans first entered repayment decades ago, 3) who attended programs that did not provide sufficient financial value, 4) eligible for relief under programs like income-driven repayment, and 5) who have experienced financial hardship and need support, but whom the current student loan system does not address.
On Wednesday October 4th, Biden approved a $9 billion student debt relief plan for 125,000 Americans. This is a welcome and important step, but we must remember that in 2005, Biden backed a bill that stripped students of bankruptcy protections, putting millions in the financial hardship we see today. And this still leaves tens of millions of students with more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.
While banks and billionaires are repeatedly bailed out, student loan borrowers are usually ignored by the federal government. The pause to student loan repayments had been a lifeline to Americans as the cost of living continues to increase exponentially. The $9 billion in relief should be just the start.
It has been more than ten years since this “Bail Out the Students” poster was produced after the start of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and yet not enough has changed.
It is time for students to be bailed out. Cancel all student debt now!