Biden-Harris administration offers student debt relief plan

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced a student loan forgiveness plan which will allow Americans to have up to $20,000 of debt canceled. The plan also includes an extension of the student loan payment pause, which has now been scheduled to resume in January along with blueprints for an income-based repayment scheme. The plan will impact people all over the country including many current and previous West Liberty students. Any previous or current student who received a loan before June 30, 2022 may qualify for debt forgiveness.

The student loan forgiveness plan will allow those with federal student loans who earn less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 as a household) to have up to $10,000 of their debt canceled. Both subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans qualify for forgiveness under Biden’s plans.

Students who received a Pell Grant, a need-based award given to students based on household income levels, are eligible for up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness. Anyone who received a Pell Grant at any time during their education is considered eligible for this relief. Students can check to see if they have received a Pell Grant by viewing their financial aid account through WINS.

The plan has been put in place in an attempt to ease the strain felt by the current generation of college graduates. “An entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for an attempt at least at a college degree,” Biden said. “The burden is so heavy that even if you graduate, you may not have access to the middle-class life that the college degree once provided.”

You can sign up for updates about how to apply for student loan forgiveness via the U.S Department of Education’s website. White House officials have indicated that applications are likely to open in early October. Starting the forgiveness process before the loan pause is over in January will prevent more interest accruing.

Recent WLU graduate Kaelyn Oskin is one of those benefiting from the plan. “Finding out that some of my debt would be covered was a huge relief. I had been stressing out all summer about the start of payments in September,” she said. Oskin graduated from West Liberty University last year with a master’s degree in criminology following the completion of her undergraduate degree in criminal justice. She said, “This gives me the chance to apply that money to more traveling, maybe buy a new car or save money for a down payment on a house.”
Biden’s plan has helped to relieve some stress for Oskin. “The relief has hugely impacted me. I am now going to be able to save a lot more money and become debt free quicker,” she said. “Finding out it was going to be forgiven literally made me feel giddy with relief.”

Biden’s plan will significantly reduce debt for many students, but this action may not be enough. WLU senior Annalise Murphy said, “I think that it is going to bring relief for a lot of people, but it doesn’t fix the issue of college being entirely too expensive for people to go.” Though some groundwork has been laid to change the way loans are repaid, the future of affordable education is still unclear. “I think it would be beneficial to see how we can make college a more affordable option for people,” said Murphy.

To learn more about the future of Biden’s student debt relief plan, visit Federal Student Aid.