New York, NY – Student loan payments have been affecting people all over the country for years. The interest set on the loans doubles the amount originally borrowed, putting former students in an endless wheel of paying back. So, when President Joe Biden made one of his campaign strategies to cancel student loans, people were definitely intrigued. A year in and there hasn’t been much progress, so what are people to think?
I spoke with a current victim of the never ending student loan “scam”, Romola Hilerio. She’s working towards her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, interviewing for programs and hoping to gain funding. Hilerio has been unable to have a paying job with the expectations and requirements needed to start within a program.
“I am working towards my Ph.D. and that comes with a lot of necessary but unpaid hours of work to add experience to my resume and make me a good candidate,” said Hilerio. “Of course, this doesn’t guarantee admission but there is no way around it.”
While Biden has been able to provide forgiveness in the amount of $15 billion dollars to 675,000 people, there are still so much more that have not been helped. “Biden’s student loan cancellation hasn’t offered me any relief..[but] I am glad he is offering relief to those who were wronged so at least he is starting somewhere,” said Hilerio.
As of now, the money has gone to students who are disabled, working in a nonprofit or public organization under the Limited PSLF Waiver program, and students who were wrongfully charged by the school or private loan office.
If we're not going to forgive federal student loans, the requirements for PSLF need to change dramatically. 10 years is an eternity in career time. We all benefit when people in the private sector have public service experience. Build on that.
— Mallory Langston (@primnimproper_) January 22, 2022
There have been extensions put in place by the Biden administration for borrowers until May 1, 2022, but is that going to be enough? “I will admit that the interest free extension has been saving my life so that is something that I am very grateful for,” said Hilerio. “I fully understand that these loans are my own responsibility, but the interest rates are outrageous, and students end up paying almost double their original amount borrowed. That isn’t right at all, and no one is trying to address it.”
I held as many as four part-time jobs while I spent 8 years in college. I paid for my car, rent, food, and all of my tuition except for a 10k loan I had not paid as of graduation. When I hear people asking for their student loans to be forgiven, I have no concern for them.
— 🌷eve🌷 (@eveforamerica) January 25, 2022
There are people on social media who argue student loan forgiveness is “outrageous” and should not take place. Twitter user @eveforamerica shared her experience with college and paying tuition in a tweet. “I held as many as four part-time jobs while I spent 8 years in college. I paid for my car, rent, food, and all of my tuition except for a 10k loan I had not paid as of graduation. When I hear people asking for their student loans to be forgiven, I have no concern for them.”
While that is an amazing feat to accomplish, the world needs to understand that not everyone is built the same and can afford the same privileges. What’s more concerning is having to hold that many jobs just to get by, shouldn’t that be a cause for concern on how this country runs? For Hilerio, holding one job let alone four is not even an option and for many other students in her position they share the same experience. “I wish more people understood how many unpaid hours students in school, and in between school, need to work in order to achieve their goals. If you are from a low-income family, there are so many hoops you have to jump through just to reach the next level.”
Hilerio has worked her way to getting into a Ph.D. program on her own with little assistance. In order to be considered for one, she had to go through grad school and join a research lab unpaid for two years which has become a full time job for her. “I worked 3 jobs through college to be able to work unpaid for the last 2 years, but I know not everyone can do that. Even with that, I depleted my savings while gaining incredibly valuable work and research experience. If I had to start paying back the loans now, my back account would be almost whittled down to nothing while I wait to finish my obligations and hopefully gain employment before continuing on with my degree.”
As of now, over 80 lawmakers are pushing and urging Biden to hold up on his promise to cancel student loan debt. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., want Biden to immediately forgive $50,000 per borrower which would result in a $1 trillion dollar deal and help 36 million people become debt free. A spokesperson for the White House has said the president has been looking into ways to relieve the overwhelming debt crisis. However, there is worry Congress will not pass the legislation, so we’ll be sitting by idly waiting.