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360: Should some student loan debt be erased? President Biden is considering the idea

Student Loan Debt
Posted at 3:58 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 19:15:04-04

MILWAUKEE — As President Joe Biden expresses openness to forgiving some student loan debt, we're going in-depth to hear why some support the measures being proposed and why others oppose them so boldly.

It's been a conversation since the president was on the campaign trail, and pressure is on. On Wednesday, Attorneys General from 8 states and U.S. Territories, including all of Wisconsin's neighboring states, called on President Biden to fully forgive student debt.

2022.05.02 - Ltr Re Canceling Student Loan Debt by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd

Recently the president said he is "taking a hard look about whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness."

So, TMJ4 News is going 360 to look at this issue from all sides. TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins shares the perspective of two Wisconsin lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and spoke with a current UW-Whitewater student who calls the ideas being floated around by the president "unfair."

First though, we start with a woman who pressed President Biden on this issue at a town hall in Milwaukee in 2021. She believes debt forgiveness should happen soon.

The president has floated the idea of forgiving up to $10,000 per borrower, based on income.

"I think we just need to take at least a step one, which if 10,000 could be that, that would be wonderful," said Jocelyn Fish.

She is now anxiously awaiting the president's decision. He says a decision will come soon.

"He seems to understand that people are struggling, coming back from the pandemic has not been easy, we're still not back to normal, so I don't know what has really taken this long to make any movement on it. But I'm hoping that now is the time were going to take steps to get there," said Fish.

While she says $50,000, which many Democrats are pushing for, would help the most, Fish says any amount of debt forgiveness is helpful.

In addition to the debt, she says the government must begin addressing the cost of education as a whole. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin agrees.

"I definitely support a measure of debt relief," said Baldwin.

Baldwin now says she does support ideas being floated around by the president, but that the conversation is about more than debt elimination.

"I would like to deal with this issue both retroactively as well as prospectively," said Baldwin. "Forgiveness will not do anything to bring down the cost of education."

On the other side of the aisle is Republican Congressman Bryan Steil. He agrees there needs to be focus on the cost of education. But, he dismisses President Biden's ideas all together. He's worried about the impact Biden's plans could have on taxpayers.

"I think what the Biden Administration is doing is incredibly unfair," said Steil.

The congressman says he's fighting for those who have already paid off their loans and for those who chose not to go to college because of cost.

"(President Biden) is shifting that burden from the individual who received the benefit of going to college to all Americans. Regardless of whether that American paid off their student loans, worked through college, or maybe chose a path that didn't involve taking out student loans, and they're working maybe as a welder or an electrician," he said.

So what do students think about all of this? Turns out they're split on the issue, too.

TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins: "Many people are quick to assume that all college students would be in favor of President Biden's plans. What do you think of this?"

Trenton Kerbs, a student against Biden's plans for debt forgiveness: "Yeah, I am definitely opposed to this."

Kerbs is with the College Republicans of UW-Whitewater.

"For me, I went to college, I made that choice, I fully intend to pay off all my loans," said Kerbs.

He says going to college is a choice and that people should "have to work for what they have."

Kerbs also agrees the cost of loan debt should not be passed down to taxpayers.

"If we were to forgive the students' loans now, it's only going to be passed down the road to students after they graduate. We're going to have to pay off the loans one way or another," said Kerbs.

In the meantime, because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education has extended the current pause on Student Loan Repayment until Aug. 31, and President Biden's loan forgiveness plans are not final or promised. So what should you be doing to prepare for Student Loan Repayment to continue? We asked Lauryn Williams. She is a consultant with Student Loan Payment. Watch the web exclusive video here:

Lauryn Williams

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